Friday, March 06, 2009

Bir Hacheim

Rommel was in a somewhat more secure position by 2 June 1942. After taking the Sidi Muftah area, he intended to attack Bir Hacheim with some of his better infantry: the 90th Light Division and the Italian Trieste Division (motorized). The Official History notes that by this phase of the battle, Rommel had lost General Gause and Colonel Westphal to wounds.

Since 30 May, the British had been very active in the air, but by 2 June, they had taken many losses and had to stop low level attacks on Axis ground forces due to the dwindling stocks of Kittyhawks. The British had lost 50 aircraft in the first 5 days of the battle. The only good sign was the arrival of the first Spitfires in the fighter role. The plan was to use them to fly high cover for Hurricanes used as fighter-bombers. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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