Monday, January 18, 2016

The commanders in Britain and the Middle East were indulging in wishful thinking in February to March 1941

When the 2nd Armoured Division arrived in the Middle East, the commander, Major-General Tilly, remarked that the division's cruiser tanks had worn out tracks and engines. General Wavell's reaction to that information was that perhaps, they would do better in the desert than they would have somewhere else. Of course, the British in the Middle East lacked tank transporters, vehicles that were later considered to be essential. The Germans had to demonstrate their utility before the British could learn. The British were trying to get by with as little effort and expense as possible, yet try to take on large responsibilities. The British solved their tank problem by shipping them to Greece, where they broke down in the mountains. Given the current operations, there were the New Zealand Division, the three Australian Divisions (the 6th, 7th, and 9th), one British division (the 6th, eventually renamed the 70th), and the Polish Carpathian Brigade. For the divisions, they were short of artillery and other supporting arms. Wavell sent the best armor to Greece and kept the worst in the Western Desert. Of course, Churchill and the War Cabinet were driving events, so they were ultimately responsible for the results. Wavell was a man desperate to hold onto his position as the theater commander, so he did whatever was asked, whether it was a good idea or not. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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