Thursday, March 06, 2008

The plan with respect to Tobruk

In February 1942, General Auchinleck had told General Ritchie to do everything possible to keep Tobruk from capture. What General Auchinleck resolved not to do was to have a division in Tobruk and have the Axis forces surrounding the fortress. The intent was to withdraw to the frontier rather than allow a division to be tied down and put at risk. The commanders in chief concurred, apparently, at least in February. February to May would be spent in building up the tank forces for a new offensive that would reconquer the western Cyrenaican airfields. They were desperately needed to allow convoys to run to Malta and to operate against Axis shipping. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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