Sunday, May 27, 2007

The British plan in December 1941

General Ritchie, now 8th Army commander, started December 1941 with a plan. He wanted 30th Corps to capture El Adem, which seemed like a critical point for the Axis forces. 30th Corps would have the 7th Armoured Division, 22nd Guards Brigade, 1st South African Division, and the 4th Indian Division, when it was available. The 2nd South African Division would relieve the 4th Indian Division so that it could move forward to western Cyrenaica. To begin with, only the 11th Indian Brigade was ready to participate. 13th Corps would hold Tobruk and the newly won ground. General Ritchie gave General Godwin-Austen the freedom to withdraw back into the fortress, if he needed to do so to keep his forces intact. Of the New Zealand Division, only the 5th New Zealand Brigade would participate, under the command of the 2nd South African Division. The remainder would "refit at Maaten Baggush". On 1 December, "General Auchinleck arrived at 8th Army Headquarters to be at hand if needed". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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