Thursday, June 08, 2006

Decisions about the British attack in North Africa in late 1941

General Auchinleck and Air Marshal Tedder had been called home to speak with the Defence Committee, after they were appointed. The Defence Committee had been anxious to mount some sort of offensive quickly so that the British could be perceived as taking pressure off the Russians, as we have previously discussed. Much of the rationale for the change in command was politically driven, as was the need for an offensive. General Auchinleck was able to successfully argue that the offensive should be delayed until November, when the chances of success were much better.

Everyone expected that by November the RAF could be reinforced with new aircraft, so that they would be in a better position to gain air supremacy over the battlefield. British forces generally had been very small, relative to the Italians and now that had been even more true since the arrival of the Germans. The record so far in the Mediterranean and Middle East had been that the RAF had been unable to meet the demands placed upon them to support and defend British ground and naval forces. The challenge was to correct that situation. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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