Thursday, November 20, 2008
The downside of having the huge stockpile of fuel and supplies at Belhamed was that the base was really too far forward. That meant once the battle started, the British were forced to use forces to defend Belhamed rather than to be able to fight as the battle flowed. Already by 10 May 1942, General Auchinleck was informed that the British needed to fight in May, and as soon as possible, as a German offensive was imminent. The army was still not really prepared to fight. General Ritchie's forces were widely spread across the desert, generally out of supporting distance. The Free French at Bir Hachiem, were hung out 13 miles from the 150th Infantry Brigade and six from the 69th Infantry Brigade. With their forces spread out wide, they relied heavily on minefields to block the gaps. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.