Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Chiefs of Staff and Prime Minister force premature action

The Prime Minister and Chiefs of Staff refused to acknowledge that the army in North Africa was seriously out-matched by the Axis forces in May 1942. They were back to the late 1940 mentality that thought that the army needed to go forward when needed, regardless of the consequences. Strategic factors outweighed the facts on the ground. General Auchinleck was also concerned about the situation in the Far East and was fully prepared to go in the defensive so that more forces could be sent East. The concern in Britain, though, was that Malta was very vulnerable and could be easily lost. They felt that such a loss would seriously compromise the entire Commonwealth defense posture. Therefore, the army had to attack soon to relieve the pressure on Malta and allow air forces to operate closer in support. Those in Britain also had reason to expect an Axis attack in North Africa in June and wanted to forestall that attack. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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