Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Gazala front, in retrospect
When the two armies faced each other at Gazala, they were both well-supplied and of similar strength. When the Axis forces were at Gazala, they could be supplied by road from Tripoli and by supply ships arriving at Benghazi. The British were also well-supplied from Tobruk, by the rail line, and by road from the east. With the British being defeated in the Gazala battle, the situation became fluid and Rommel was able to take Tobruk and then, ultimately, to push all the way to El Alamein. At El Alamein, Auchinleck was able to fight a defensive battle, where he was able to stop the forward progress of Rommel's army. As the British fell back to the east, they were more easily supplied, plus new equipment, units, and reinforcements arrived in greater quantity. They started to receive the new American Sherman tanks, with a good medium velocity 75mm gun in a turret. From the UK, they started to receive the 6pdr anti-tank gun in increasing numbers, along with newer marks of British tanks. This marked the turning point in the war in North Africa. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.