Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Events in August 1941

Because of the difficulties experienced in Crete with an airborne attack, the Germans declined to mount another airborne attack against Cyprus. The British expected the Germans to attack, as they thought the island was vulnerable. In fact, the Germans expected that Cyprus would be reinforced, and that is what happened in the event. Cyprus had only been garrisoned by the 7th Australian Cavalry, but they were replaced by a British Hussar regiment, which was reinforced by the 50th Division, which had just arrived from Britain. This had all happened by late August. By holding Syria and Iraq, the British had better secured their vital interests in the Suez canal and the oil fields.

The British expected that the Germans might penetrate to the Middle East through Turkey or through southern Russia. They told Turkey that they would support them, if attacked, with four divisions. As 1941 progressed, there was increasingly less likelihood that the Germans would reach the Middle East from the north. General Blamey told his government in Australia that he thought that the year was too late for the Germans to attack to the Middle East. General Blamey was a rather problematic man, exemplified by his treatment of General Lavarack, but he was competent enough to have a good strategic sense. He was also a strong advocate for the Australian government in the face of Churchill and his demands on the Australians. The British had a lot of uncertainty about the Turkish government and their potential attitude towards the Germans. There was no guarantee that they would not allow the Germans to pass through Turkey to reach the Middle East, in some assessments of the prospects. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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