Saturday, November 12, 2005
Axis transport to North Africa from February to May 1941
The transport of the 5th Light Division to Libya started in early February. By the end of March, 15 convoys had crossed with 25,000 men, 8,500 motor vehicles, and 26,000 tons of supplies. The transport of the 15th Panzer Division had been completed by the end of May, and that freed up shipping so that Italian troops could be finally brought across to Libya. From March to May, 9 German ships were sunk and 9 were damaged during the transport operation. The trip could have been much safer if ports in Tunisia were available. Protracted negotiations with the Vichy French ensued, but fortunately for the British, they never resulted in the ports becoming available to the Germans. Since Hitler was focused on Russia, no pressure was applied to the French. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.