Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The British sacrificed a great deal of good will from the Commonwealth nations in 1941, including the Crusader Battle, when the New Zealanders and South Africans suffered needless losses. I am sure that Churchill was chagrined, that this would have happened. Politics, on a global scale, drove much of what Churchill wanted to do in the war. When Russia was attacked and driven back by the Germans, he wanted the British army in the Middle East to respond. Churchill’s desire for action ignored the realities of the British position in North Africa, where the newly arrived equipment and troops were not ready for action. General Auchinleck successfully resisted, but at some cost to his favor with Churchill. Churchill was also very aware of the tendency among the British senior officers, such as Bernard Law Montgomery, to be slow to move and to required overwhelming superiority in men and material. Churchill could contrast that with Rommel’s opportunism and willingness to act when the occasion demanded. Even while the British had waited to be better prepared, the South Africans and New Zealanders took their lossed in the Crusader Battle. New Zealand responded with a request to withdraw the division in early 1942.

The page on the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry describes another view of the Crusader Battle. The story of the South Africans being overrun is described, although it says that in the process, the German armour suffered.

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