Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
This shows the tanks shipped to the Middle East from North America:
We don't know this, but we can only imagine that many of the 407 in September were M4 Sherman tanks. This information is from Vol.III of the Official History: The Mediterranean and Middle East.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
On 12 July 1942, the Prime Minster, Winston Churchill informed General Auchinleck that there no available divisions that could be sent to the northern front by October. At this date, there still had to be negotiations with the Americans about future plans and dispositions. Churchill recommended beating Rommel as the best solution for now. The General Staff expected that the winter would postpone the threat in the north until spring 1943.
Churchill had long been an Auchinleck supporter. He had from early on encouraged him to take command of the army in the field. Auchinleck had always thought that taking command of the army would cause the overall theater command to suffer, so he kept looking for subordinates to fill in as proxies in the army command. By May 1942, Churchill had become increasingly irritated that Auchinleck would not step in and command the army when Churchill had urged him to do so. By the time of his visit to the Middle East in the fall of 1942, Churchill decided that new commanders were needed in the Middle East to fight Rommel. He would move Auchinleck to a different command in the area (Iraq and Persia). Churchill wanted General Brook, the CIGS, to theater commander, but he demurred. Instead, Harold Alexander was become theater commander with Lt-General Gott as the 8th Army commander. These plans were disrupted when General Gott was killed when a Bombay was intercepted by German fighters, was forced down, and destroyed. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Winston Churchill was in negotiations with the Americans in July 1942, at a time when the British had no military successes. The Americans had been keen for a cross-channel invasion in 1942, but Churchill was able to dissuade them and to put in place plans more compatible with what he wanted to see happen. He was successful in getting the Americans to agree to a North African invasion and to postpone the cross-Channel invasion until the Allies were better prepared. The North African invasion was named "Torch" and was planned for 30 October 1942.
After these discussions, Churchill turned his attention to the Middle East. He had the sense that a change of leadership was needed in North Africa and the Mediterranean Theater. The British ought to have beaten Rommel in North African, and the generally held opinion was that with a better general, they would have. While Churchill was thinking of visiting the Middle East, he received an invitation from Stalin to visit Moscow. In the event, he made the trip on an American B-24 Liberator, an aircraft with the necessary range. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
The Official History's assessment was that at the end of July 1942, the British had not figured how to use infantry and armour in cooperation, at least in a changed environment dominated by more powerful anti-tank guns (used offensively) and by widespread use of anti-tank mines. The British plans for the battles in July were formulated as if the old situation were still in place. That is, that infantry could attack and open up corridors for armour to advance into the enemy's rear area.
The situation had also changed in that Rommel had gone on the defensive, rather than being prepared to blitz to exploit British weakness. The land in the narrows between the Qattara Depression and the Mediterranean was fast being blocked by mines and barbed wire. Fortunately for the British, by November, they would be commanded by the master of the fixed-piece battle, Bernard Law Montgomery.