Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
- 38,300 Italian and Libyan prisoners
- 237 guns
- 73 tanks (L3/33, M11/39, and M13/40)
- More than 1000 vehicles
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Friday, June 24, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
The British put out a covering force to be ready for the commencement of hostilities with Italy. The 11th Hussars, equipped with Morris AC9 and Rolls Royce Model 1924 Mk.I armoured cars, were spread out across the desert as much as 40 miles from the coast on June 11th. That night, they crossed the border and took surprised Italian outposts that weren't aware that war had been declared. The 7th Hussars and 1st/KRRC moved up to the border, and on June 14th, took Fort Capuzzo. Fort Maddalena fell to the 11th Hussars. On the 16th, a squadron of the 7th Hussars and J Battery, RHA, routed a column of 17 Italian light tanks, guns, and infantry and captured all the tanks.
As early as June 11th, the Italians commenced bombing Malta. Malta had never received the planned AA artillery outfit. Instead of 112 heavy and 60 light AA guns, they only had 34 heavy and 8 light. They did have the famous three Gladiators named Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Friday, June 17, 2005
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
- 12 Hurricanes
- 12 Blenheim IVs
- 6 Lysanders
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
On September 13, 1940, the Italians attacked British forces in Egypt. They bombarded Musaid with artillery, and then advanced up the coast road. The British had expected the Italians to outflank them from the desert, but the Italians were concerned that the British were more at home in the desert than they were, so they didn't make the attempt. Count Ciano wrote that "Never has a military operation been undertaken so much against the will of the Commander" (quoted in the Official History). He was writing about Marshall Graziani.
British opposition was limited to the following units:
- 3rd Coldstream Guards,
- C Battery RHA
- later, a portion of F Battery, RHA
- one section of 25/26th Medium Battery, RA
- one company 1/KRRC
- 1 machine gun company from 1st Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
Monday, June 13, 2005
Correlli Barnett criticizes Major-General Percy Hobart as the source of the mistaken idea that "tanks should fight other tanks". That was not the German way, although they often did fight other tanks, at least on the Eastern Front and later, on the Western Front, after there was one. Rommel used the "Sword and Shield" approach where armour was the sword and the shield was his anti-tank weapons. The 88mm FLAK36 was his key weapon in the shield, although the 50mm PAK38 was also highly effective, at least against the British cruiser tanks that Rommel's forces faced.
But Percy Hobart was a maverick and a champion of mechanized warfare. I would treat him better than Correlli Barnett. He was tossed out of the British Army by Archibald Wavell, after Hobart's commanding officer wrote an "adverse report" about him. When confronted on this incident later, Wavell could not adequately explain his dismissal of Hobart. This was the same mindset that later forced out Eric Dorman-Smith, another mechanized warfare expert.
Through the efforts of Winston Churchill, Hobart was returned to the army, although only in an organizing and training role, for which he was well-suited.
Trevor Constable has a paper about Hobart in the Journal of Historical Review. I have drawn upon that, as well as Correlli Barnett, in my discussion here.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
- 135 Matildas
- 82 Crusader tanks
- 21 light tanks (I believe that these were Lt.Mk.VIC's)
Saturday, June 11, 2005
- 3rd Hussars with light tanks
- 2nd battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment with cruiser tanks
- 7th battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment with 50 infantry tanks
- 48-2pdr anti-tank guns
- 20-Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft guns
- 48-25pdr guns
- 500 Bren guns
- 250 0.55in Boys anti-tank rifles
- 50,000 anti-tank mines
- 300 tons of spare parts and equipment
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Monday, June 06, 2005
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
For the first time British and Empire troops will meet the Germans with an ample supply of equipment in modern weapons of all kins [sic]. The battle itself will affect the whole course of the war. Now is the time to strike the hardest blow yet struck for final victory, home and freedom. The Desert Army may add a page to history which will rank with Blenheim and Waterloo. The eyes off all nations are upon you. ALl our hearts are with you. May God uphold the right!
Correlli Barnett wrote that Cunningham was not fit to command, as he was near a nervous breakdown, from the strain of combat since February. Being thrust into an unfamiliar environment, mobile warfare in the desert, simply increased the strain.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
The 8th Army was deployed, ready to attack, by late November 15, 1941. They had about 100,000 troops at the ready, along with 453 cruiser tanks (or equivalent) with the 7th Armoured Division. 166 of these were American M3 Stuart tanks with only the 37mm gun. The rest were mostly Crusader I and II tanks with the 40mm 2pdr gun. There were still a few A13 Cru.Mk.IV and Cru.Mk.II tanks, but they left the scene after Crusader. The American Stuart tanks could make 40mph, if they were ungoverned, but along with the Crusaders, they had governors to increase their mechanical life and reliability.
British intelligence thought that the opposing forces had 272 German tanks and 138 Italian tanks. Of the German, they thought that there were as many as 96 Pzkw II's, with only a 20mm gun. The British assumed that there would be an "armour-to-armour" battle, and that they had superior forces. To bring the Germans to such a battle, the British intended to occupy a position that would bring Axis forces to counterattack. At 6am on November 18th, the 8th Army set out around the Axis flank. They crossed "The Wire" south of Bir Sheforzen, headed towards Gabr Saleh, and then to Bir Gubi and the airfield at Sidi Rezegh. As they moved forward, the British command was perplexed that Rommel had not responded. What did they have to do to bring Rommel into a battle?
This is based on Correlli Barnett's book, The Desert Generals, augmented with what I know from other sources.