Friday, October 28, 2005

The causes of the collapse in Cyrenaica

The causes of the quick defeat in Cyrenaica were largely due to the strategy of sending most of the available forces to Greece and leaving Cyrenaica denuded of forces. What were available were understenght and raw. The core blame was Churchill's for his refusal to consider finishing the victory in Libya. General Wavell was a willing accomplice in this scheme. The result was predictably bad. I can't believe that those who were stuck as targets in western Cyrenaica didn't feel pretty vulnerable, especially when they realized the Germans were operating in the field. During the collapse, they pretty much were deprived of air cover, as they had been intended to have No.3 Squadron RAAF for fighter cover, but No.73 Squadron was not sent to Greece, but went to Cyrenaica. At first, only No.55 Squadron was equipped with Blenheims, until April 8th, when No.45 Squadron arrived. A retreating air force is at great disadvantage, as they don't have a secure base from which to operate. The logistical issues are immense. This is based, in part, on Vol.II of the Official History.


NORMAN said...

The cause of the British defeat in Cyrenacia had nothing to do with all the best troops being sent to Greeece. Neame the British commander had plenty of troops and a good defencive position at the Salt Marshes of Mersa El Brega. He also had water and supplies. The British lost because they had poor leadership and organisation.

Jim said...

The diversion of forces to Greece had to weaken the forces available to defend Cyrenaica, but with Richard O'Connor ill and unable to command, that left remaining forces commanded by men without the necessary skills and ability to match the Germans under Rommel. The Wikipedia entry for Richard O'Connor shows that Churchill was responsible for stopping the further offensive against the Italians and diverting the forces to Greece.

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