Sunday, October 16, 2005

General Wavell intervenes with a bad result

When General Wavell realized that General Neame was prepared to uncover the cost road to Benghazi, in order to block or impede the desert route, he intervened. He ordered that the armoured division must block the coast road. General Wavell had flipped on his original directive, which was to preserve units, above all else, even if it meant abandoning Benghazi. All this happened on April 2, 1941. The only positive result was that the order was overcome by events. General O'Connor had been ordered forward, with the intent that he would take command in the field. He brought Brigadier Combe with him. On April 3, the situation took a drastic turn for the worse. General Neame ordered that a demolition plan be executed in Benghazi and General Gambier-Parry was released from having to cover the coast road. The 6th RTR, armed with a few Italian M13/40's acted as the rearguard for the 2nd Armoured Division. By the morning of April 4, the HQ of the 2nd Armoured Division was at Msus, with no gasoline available. A Free French motor battalion had destroyed what was there when there was word of a enemy force headed that way. The news was false, but it doomed the 2nd Armoured Division. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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