Saturday, September 30, 2006
The British won the Crusader Battle
The Official History summaries the Crusader Battle by saying that the British won the battle, relieved Tobruk, but it took longer than planned, and by the time the battle was won, the British had "exhausted themselves". The battle took place between the border, as far south as Fort Maddalena, and Tobruk, including towards the south to Bir el Gubi. The stretched out over two weeks, as the British initial thrust misfired, and they were confused and ineffectual for some time, really until General Auchinleck intervened. The area is pretty much ideal for armoured warfare, except near the coast, where there is the escarpment and poor going. The ground inland is quite good for tanks and vehicles, except when there is rain. Near the coast is the Via Balbia, the coast road built by the Italians. Much of the important fighting occurred near the Sidi Rezegh airfield. On the British side, almost the entire army was now motorized, even the infantry. The infantry divisions drew their transport from a pool, while motorized units had integral transport. 30th Corps was completely motorized while the 13th Corps had units that were not. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.