Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Axis forces fighting the British in Libya were dubbed Panzerarmee Afrika on 22 January 1942. The nominal list of divisions, all low in strength, were the Deutsche Afrika Korps, with the 15th Panzer Division, the 21st Panzer Division, and 90th Light Division, along with the Italian 10th Corps, with the Bologna and Brescia Divisions, the Italian 20th Corps, with the Ariete Armoured Division and the Trieste Motorized Division, the Italian 21st Corps, with the Pavia, Trento, and Sabratha Divisions. Rommel had some officers who later were quite famous: Major F. W. von Mellenthin and Colonel Westphal. As early as 12 January 1942, Major von Mellenthin, Rommel's senior intelligence officer told him "that for the next fortnight the Axis forces would be slightly stronger than the British immediately opposed to them". The operations head, Colonel Westphal, suggested that the British forces exposed near Agedabia should be attacked. The Axis forces would be too week to push forward, but this was a good opportunity. Once Rommel agreed to this plan, he decided to keep it secret, even from their superiors. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.