Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Rommel was a high-stakes gambler
Rommel functioned by taking risks in exchange for occasional big wins. In December 1941 to January 1942, he pulled his forces back to Agedabia and then to El Agheila, almost to Tripolitania. Wikipedia has a nice map of the locale of the Crusader Battle. By giving up territory, Rommel was able to largely preserve his force, except for the troops trapped on the Libyan-Egyptian frontier. The Axis supply lines were greatly shortened, while the British were stretched. Rommel was able to build strength fast enough that Rommel was able to push them back to the Gazala line by February 1942. Both sides rested and re-equipped and built strength. The British brought in new tanks, primarily the American-built Grants and Lees. The Germans received a very few of the new "specials", Pzkw IIIs with the 50mm L60 gun. The next battle would be fought on the Gazala line. That battle almost lost the campaign for the British, and would have if General Auchinleck had not intervened again.