Monday, August 01, 2005
The situation in Western Cyrenaica in late January and early February 1941
General O'Connor had ordered that the 7th Armoured Division not let General Babini's force escape from Mechili, but they succeeded withdrawing to the north in the darkness. The 4th Armoured Brigade attempted to pursue, but rains, soft ground, and mechanical breakdowns, and lack of fuel thwarted that effort. The Italian armoured brigade was still intact, with 100 medium tanks and 200 light tanks. Of course, only slightly more than half were still runners. The British armour was in bad shape, with too many miles and only 50 running cruiser tanks. Marshal Graziani, Governor-General of Libya, decided to save what forces were remaining, and in early February, ordered a withdrawal from Cyrenaica. He left Benghazi on February 3rd. This is based on the account in Vol.I of the Official History.