Monday, February 27, 2006

The situation on 17 June 1941 got worse for the British

The British were in a increasingly worsening situation with the German attack on 17 June 1941. The 4th Armoured Brigade had been pulled out to the desert flank, and that left the 22nd Guards Brigade and the 11th Brigade Group very vulnerable. By 9:30am, the 7th Armoured Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade had been reduced to 22 cruiser tanks and 17 infantry tanks still running. The unfortunate feature of the British situation was that they lacked the recovery capability that the Germans relied upon for returning damaged tanks to combat. General Wavell went forward to the 7th Armoured Division HQ with General Beresford-Peirse, and decided to order a halt to operations, after finding that General Messervy had ordered a withdrawal to prevent the loss of the 22nd Guards Brigade. A feature of the day is that the RAF still held air superiority over the battlefield. Only one divebombing attack broke through.

The results of the attack were disappointing. General Wavell had reservations about the operation, but at the insistence of Churchill, had gone forward. The British losses were 122 killed, 588 wounded, and 259 men missing. They lost 27 cruiser tanks and 64 Inf.Mk.II Matildas either trhough mechanical problems, mines, or hits by anti-tank guns. They also lost four guns. The RAF "lost 33 fighters and three bombers". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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