Friday, September 29, 2006
Rommel outclassed all of the British generals in North Africa, with the possible exception of Claude Auchinleck. The British ultimately won the Crusader Battle because General Auchinleck stepped in, after the battle had gone horribly wrong, and defeated Rommel and the Axis forces. Auchinleck was very focused on his position as theater commander, and he did not want to be commanding the army in the field. Only after General Cunningham showed that he had lost control, and had no idea about how to remedy the situation, that Auchineck took over. General Cunningham had only recently fought a brilliant campaign in East Africa, against the Italians and colonial troops. I speculate that Cunningham had accepted the armour mystique, and thought that you somehow used armoured forces differently. You did, but the British did not have a clue, in November 1941, as to how that was done. They were seriously rattled by Rommel's lack of reaction to British moves, and his use of the "sword and shield" methods. Auchinleck had some of the characteristics of Rommel, in that he was able to know about the flow of battle and make informed decisions. As we study the Crusader Battle, we will see how all this unfolds.