Monday, July 16, 2007

Fighting dispersed

Even if Generals Gott, Norrie, Godwin-Austen and others seemed oblivious to the basic principle of keeping their forces concentrated, the Germans did that and were acutely aware of the British propensity to disperse and took advantage of it in the Crusader Battle and into 1942. General Cunningham assumed that his commanders would keep 30th Corps concentrated and that they would follow his plan. Gott was especially bad about sending individual tank squadrons off on a mission in some far location. "The German report on the battle" mentions this fundamental error on the British part. The DAK commander concentrated his forces so that he could incrementally defeat the British. After General Auchinleck's intervention to continue the Crusader Battle in late November, the British material superiority finally overwhelmed the Axis. The British superiority on the Axis supply lines that choked the Axis forces was a major factor. Rommel was wise enough to keep his forces largely intact, except for the lost units at the frontier, which were beyond help. The Axis forces temporarily pulled back so that the British supply lines were stretched to the limit, and then in a few weeks, pushed back to Gazala. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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