Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What happened in early 1941 was incomprehensible

The British reaction to driving the Italians from Cyrenaic (eastern Libya) was to disband the force that took the area. We can imagine that Churchill's Greek (mis-)adventure played a role. General O'Connor, the victor of Beda Fomm, went to Egypt. He was still having stomach problems. In his place, General Neame was put in charge of a "static area command". The 7th Armoured Division was withdrawn and scattered about Egypt. 13th Corps was disbanded. The newly arrived 2nd Armoured Division and an Australian brigade occupied the front facing Libya. Rommel attacked on March 31, 1941. When he realized that there was no organized resistance, he pushed harder. One group advanced up the coast road. Another crossed over the route used by O'Connor from Msus and Mechili. Another crossed further south, along a line connecting Mechili and Derna. For anyone who has followed this action, these names are quite familiar. Wavell ordered General O'Connor forward to help General Neame. They got lost and were bagged by the Germans.

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