Sunday, May 07, 2006
The root of Wavell's problem
The Official History says that the real problem with relations between Churchill and General Wavell was the General's lack of verbal skills. Churchill was the consummate speaker, and he apparently expected his commanders to be able to speak well. Churchill first met General Wavell in August 1940, and it was only the favorable opinions of General Dill and Anthony Eden that kept him from removing Wavell, after the meeting. Of course, General Wavell could tell that Churchill had taken a dislike for him, and that was enough to erode his attitude, over time. With the constant telegrams from Churchill and orders to take actions which further eroded British security in the theater, General Wavell went from being a good soldier, following orders, to the point he reached in May and June, where he was resistent to direction from Britain. Because of Churchill's priorities, they had a setback in the Western Desert, which jeopardized the whole British position in the Middle East, they had been forced to pursue the disastrous campaign in Greece and the further losses at Crete. By the time Iraq and Syria had been ordered, Wavell had become useless, really, because his attitude had broken. It turned out that Iraq and Syria went well, and the next obvious step was to remove Wavell from his command.