Friday, February 02, 2007

After reading Robert Crisp's lament, I wonder if the lack of senior officers present played a part in the British failures in the Crusader Battle

I read Robert Crisp's account of the failed attack by C Squadron, when had expected to be supported by at least the rest of his battalion. We might recall the Battle of Sidi Rezegh, where at least Jock Campbell was present (he was a Brigadier) and directing the troops. Contrast that with these small actions with up to a brigade size tank unit, the senior officers did not seem to be present, directing operations. Instead, pieces of units were sent off on some operation and left to fend for themselves. Their senior officers only found out the status after the survivors returned to the headquarters. I wonder how much this was a factor. The Germans tended to have senior officers present, commanding battlegroups, and directing the troops from the immediate vicinity. That had been more the system under General O'Connor, in late 1940 and early 1941. You had battlegroups such as Combeforce that had a senior officer present and directing operations and providing leadership. The only problem was that Rommel went through a lot of generals in 1941 and 1942 who were mainly killed. After all, Generals O'Connor and Neame were both put in the bag, when they were driving around, close to the front. Also, Jock Campbell was killed, driving around in the forward areas, when his car drove off an escarpment.

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