Thursday, June 21, 2007

More moves from 17 December 1941

On 17 December 1941, Rommel ordered the DAK "to move south of Benghazi and be ready to operate towards Agedabia". He sent the Italian forces to head for Benghazi. The Italian commanders were angry, but couldn't stop the movements. Rommel intended to pull back to El Agheila and Agedabia, so as to contract his supply lines and stretch the British lines, hoping to severely tax them. The relatively new 8th Army commander, General Ritchie, sent the 4th Indian Division to Lamluda and the 7th Armoured Division to Mechili. He also sent a force across country to try to get "as far to the west as possible". He wanted to send the 22nd Guards as part of an all-arms column "Bencol" to Benghazi, but it only was ready by 20 December. By 18 December, the British could see that Rommel only intended to withdraw, not fight. He gave Bencol orders to head for south of Benghazi to attempt to cut off Axis forces. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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