Monday, June 11, 2007

General Ritchie was making pretty good decisions in December 1941

From what we have seen so far from Vol.III of the Official History, my initial impression is that General Ritchie, the new 8th Army commander, was making pretty decent decisions and had a better grasp of the action than someone nominally closer to what was happening, General "Strafer" Gott, the 7th Armoured Division commander. I am sorry to say that I have a pretty negative view of General Gott, based on close scrutiny of his decision making during the Crusader Battle. In the opening days of the battle, he squandered his armoured forces by dispersing them to be defeated in detail. By the time that more serious action was joined with the Axis armoured forces, the 7th Armoured Division was not in a position to fight on an equal basis. At the start of the battle, the British were superior in numbers of tanks in their three brigades equipped with mobile tanks. That situation had quickly changed for the worse. Only the 4th Armoured Brigade, which was operating independently, was effective. The 7th Armoured Brigade was removed from the campaign at Sidi Rezegh. The 22nd Armoured Brigade was almost in the same state, but was reconstituted later in the battle.

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