Monday, February 11, 2008

Some analysis

From what we have seen so far in 1942, following the Japanese attacks in the Far East, the British and Commonwealth forces were stretched to the breaking point. We can say with hindsight that the Middle East was stripped down too far and the British paid dearly during the spring and summer, because of that. The situation in the Pacific was stabilized not by the force of arms on the ground but because of naval successes at the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway. The battle that was spread across 1942 into 1943 in the Solomons was what finally wore down the Japanese enough that the Allies were able to go on the offensive. Because of that overreaction, which is understandable but regrettable, North Africa was almost lost. Another factor as the Axis air superiority, partly due to their geographical advantage in Cyrenaica and partly due to better aircraft in the Bf-109f. More Spitfire V's had to be sent to the Mediterranean theater to restore the situation in the air. The great influx of American-built aircraft also helped, even when the fighter aircraft were inferior, initially. It was only when the P-51B's entered service that there was a better aircraft available.


RegOpus said...

Hi Jim, like your analysis, but I do have to disagree on one point.

The allied Weakness in the Desert in 1942 set up a fatal trap for Germany in World War Two. Over 250,000 Battle hardened German troops surrendered in March, 1943 in Tunisia. If you add this to the losses beforehand in men & equipment , the blow was staggering.
The green American army was hardened & upskilled in Africa into a true fighting force.

Nazi hubris drew the Africa Korps, & Rommel into the trap of Egypt. The Torch landings were a master stroke.

Picture Normandy, 1944, with Rommel & Von Armins's 325,000 evacuated vets facing an untried American Army...

Jim said...

Thank you for the observation.
I agree that the American invasion of North Africa was an important step towards making American soldiers "combat ready". The invasion might never have happened, however, if General Auchinleck had not stopped Rommel in the First Alamein. Rommel came very close to blitzing to the Suez. That is what would have happened if the British had to rely upon Neil Ritchie or even Strafer Gott.

RegOpus said...

thanks Jim,

I agree that Auchinleck does not get the recognition he deserves.

As a navy man, I am sure you will agree that the US Navy, battered in the Solomons, truly rose to the challenge from Morocco to Tunisia. The trap at Cape Bizerte,& the collapse at Tunisia was a real shock to German morale. The romantic African front suddenly -vanished.

It was a complete campaign victory, at a time when it was really needed.

RegOpus said...

Hi Jim:
I agree totally with your analysis of the 1941 Blunder in Greece.

Question: what would have happened if the allies had decided to Garrison & defend Crete only?

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