Thursday, July 16, 2009
On 15 June, Rommel was told by the high command that they were going to withdraw air forces in late June and that he had to take Tobruk, because the current plan could not support an investment of Tobruk for a long period. The priority was to take Malta, because Malta was interfering with the supply route to North Africa. Rommel wanted to move east towards Egypt as fast as possible, so his thinking was not incompatible with the high command. The British response to Axis movements and possibilities was limited by the depleted forces that were available. That led General Ritchie to consider the use of "Jock Columns". General Auchinleck disapproved of them, because they were too weak to fight a serious battle and dispersed what forces were available. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.