Friday, June 10, 2005

Correlli Barnett referred to General Godwin-Austin as an "eighteenth century kind of general"

We now jump back to the crisis in the Crusader battle. General Cunningham, the Eighth Army commander had lost his nerve, on understanding that he had lost control of the battle, and that the British situation was increasingly desperate. British tank doctrine was fatally flawed, since the British view was that "tanks fought tanks". The Germans, as I have already written, used their tanks against the opposing soft transport and infantry, and used their anti-tank guns to engage the British armour. Cunningham's BGS was Brigadier Galloway. He had sent him to speak to one of his corps commanders, Lieutenant-General Godwin-Austin, who commanded 13th Corps. Galloway broached the subject of a withdrawal to Egypt, and Godwin-Austin reacted violently, saying that he couldn't ask Bernard Freyburg and the New Zealanders to stop their attack. The officers and men under Cunningham's command conspired to keep the attack going until General Auchinleck could arrive and stabilize the situation. Cunningham could no longer function as army commander. This is based on the account in Correlli Barnett's book, The Desert Generals.

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