Tuesday, November 18, 2008
British preparations up to 25 May 1942
General Auchinleck had hoped to be able to build up the British army in the Western Desert to the level that they would be superior in strength to the Axis army. He did not want to be pushed into a premature action where the strength that they had would be squandered. To be ready for the planned offensive, the British had built three forward bases: Tobruk, Belhamed, and Jarabub. Belhamed was the largest with 26,000 tons of supplies. Tobruk had 10,000 tons and Jarabub only had 1,000 tons. The coastal railroad was pushed forward so that the railhead was now up to Capuzzo. By late May, they had reached Belhamed, although the railhead was still incomplete and temporary. By the 25 May 1942 date, they had 80% of the supplies that were needed, although they only had two thirds of the fuel that they wanted to have on hand. The shortfall was created by the loss of fuel ships to attacks on the run west along the coast. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.