Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Operation Compass in December 1940

General Wavell gave his approval on December 5, 1940, for the attack on the Italians in Libya. The field commander was General O'Connor, who had prepared his troops for this moment. The army had trained for 6 months with the attack in mind. The attacking force was not large. They had the 4th Indian Division and the 7th Armoured Division. The 4th Indian Division was provided with 57 infantry tanks (Inf. Mk. II Matildas). There was also a battlegroup called "Selby Force" after its commander, Brigadier Selby. The attacking force consisted of 36,000 troops. The attack was launched on December 7th, 1940. O'Connor's plan was to move forward in two moves. The first would put them part way into the desert. The second would position them for the attack. In the strange happenings of the times, in five days, General Wavell intended to withdraw the 4th Indian Division for use in Eritrea. He didn't want to spoil O'Connor's concentration by letting him know ahead of time. On the morning of December 9th, the attack began with the 4/7 Rajput Regiment assaulting Camp Nibeiwa.

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