Monday, June 06, 2005
The situation in February 1941
The Italian commander, Marshal Graziani, concluded that they must abandon Cyrenaica and evacuate their forces to defend Tripolitania. They would fall back to Syrte and concentrate there. General O'Connor's forward headquarters was located at Bomba. His staff included his Brigadier General Staff, Brigadier Harding and Brigadier Eric Dorman-Smith, who had arrived on January 29th. General Wavell had send Brigadier Dorman-Smith to document the campaign and write a study for future reference. The situation was getting tense, as reinforcements had not arrived and they were down to 50 cruiser tanks as runners. O'Connor dispatched Brigadier Dorman-Smith back to Cairo to ask permission to advance further. The goal was to cut off the Italian retreat. General Wavell gave permission to move forward, and Brigadier Dorman-Smith arrived back at Bomba to witness the action. On February 4th, the 7th Armoured Division with 50 cruiser tanks and 8 light tanks advanced from Mechili. They headed out across the rugged terrain towards the coast near Beda Fomm. This is based on Correlli Barnett's account in The Desert Generals.