Saturday, July 09, 2005

Another view of the capture of Tobruk in January 1941

Correlli Barnett wrote that on January 11th, 1941, Hitler made the decision to send troops to support the Italians in Libya. The event that caused this determination was the fall of Bardia. A new formation, the 5th Light Division, organized as a mixed division of tanks and motorized infantry, would be formed and sent to Libya. The move would start on February 15th. General Wavell really wasn't perpared to fight a blitzkrieg-style campaign, but General O'Connor had his forces already investing Tobruk, so he allowed the campaign to continue. Typically, during this period, the British were trying to do everything "on the cheap", with insufficient forces and equipment. The attempt to save Greece was a forlorn effort because of this, and the situation in the Western Desert would be compromised by the same problem, along with too many WWI-minded officers at various levels. This is based on the account in Correlli Barnett's book, The Desert Generals.

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