Tuesday, March 13, 2007
It is quite telling that the 4th Armoured Brigade was the last tank unit in the 7th Armoured Division by 29 November 1941
Ian Paterson's narrative about "Battles 1941" summarizes that story quite well about Operation Crusader, as well as the other battles in 1941 in the Middle Eastern theater. It says a lot about the state of the 8th Army and British leadership that by the end of 29 November 1941, they had expended all the armoured forces in the 7th Armoured Division (and 30th Corps), except Brigadier Gatehouse's 4th Armoured Brigade, which included Robert Crisp and the 3rd RTR. I place much of the blame squarely on General Gott, who squandered his division, piecemeal, by scattering them across the desert in squadron and battalion actions for the first two weeks of the Crusader Battle. By the time they were needed, there were few tanks left. The Germans concentrated and presented a major problem, because of that. Fortunately, their supply situation was bad and the RAF and SAAF had air superiority over the battlefield. Otherwise, the situation would have been even worse.