Friday, January 20, 2006
Correlli Barnett points out all that was happening in April to June 1941
Correlli Barnett says, in The Desert Generals, that General Wavell hoped for relative quiet in Cyrenaica, as he was fully occupied in many other places. He characterizes withdrawal from Greece as the British being "thrown out", with the loss of one fifth of their forces on 29 April 1941. In Iraq, on 5 May, Rashid Ali led a coup that was sympathetic to the Germans. On 20 May, the Germans attacked Crete. Intelligence indicated that Germans were entering Syria, so Wavell resolved to take the country. The British invasion launched on 8 June, with forces inferior to the Vichy French. From 12 May, Churchill starting pressing Wavell for a date when the Tiger Convoy tanks would be used in an offensive. Wavell seems to have been unable to deal with this sort of political pressure for premature or unwise action, and it ultimately led to his downfall. Churchill's lease on power must have seemed tenuous enough to him, that he continually made decisions based on politics, and his anxiety to see action taken.