Monday, June 09, 2008

Malta and North Africa in May 1942

The Middle East commanders continued to obliviously send communications to Britain that greatly incensed the prime minister and the Chiefs of Staff. For example, on 9 May 1942, they stated that they thought that the loss of Malta would not be fatal to the position in North Africa, as long as the supply lines through the Indian Ocean remained open. The restated their opinion, which proved correct, that an attack without adequate force strength would result in the loss of the attackers. If there was no reserve, Egypt would be lost. They did acknowledge that the Axis forces seemed to be grouping for an attack on the Gazala line. The Middle East commanders thought that such an attack risked the loss of significant Axis strength and might even open the way to a successful counterattack. The Prime Minister would have none of it, however: "We are determined that Malta should not be allowed to fall without a battle being fought by your whole army for its retention". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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