Friday, August 31, 2007

Bad news on 25 January 1942

After the 1st Armoured Division mauled by the DAK on 25 January 1942, General Godwin-Austen ordered the 4th Indian Division to withdraw from Benghazi. The remains of the 1st Armoured Division were ordered to make for Mechili. In the rear, General Ritchie and Air Marshal Tedder decided that the German success on 25 January was not serious and just a fluke. General Ritchie ordered that the withdrawal cease. General Ritchie made the statement that showed just how out of touch with reality he was: "The most offensive action must be taken, together with the greatest risks". General Ritchie took the 4th Indian Division under his immediate control. General Godwin-Austen protested, and then commented on General Ritchie's "loss of confidence in himself". General Ritchie, once he had taken control found that the two division commanders doubted their ability to hold on. The 1st Armoured Division was down to 41 tanks and 40 field guns. The 4th Indian Division only had been reduced to the strength of a single brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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