Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Middle East was to be further stripped of forces
The Middle East was informed on 17 February 1942 that they would lose the 70th Division, which was to be sent to the Far East, in the face of Japanese advances. They were also warned that they were likely to lose the 9th Australian Division, as well. At the same time, Alan Brooke, the CIGS, warned General Auchinleck that a division in Iraq would be withdrawn to India. At best, one more division was would be sent from Britain to the Middle East before the fall of 1942. The Chiefs of Staff in London was ready to assume a defensive posture in the Middle East in order to stop the Japanese offensive in the Far East. In response, General Auchinleck replied that an offensive in the Western Desert prior to 1 June would put the entire enterprise in North Africa at risk. The one spot that the Chiefs of Staff were determined to protect was Malta. They were prepared to commit a considerable force to pass a convoy through with supplies and arms. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.