Sunday, February 21, 2016
The situation in Libya in February to March 1941
In February 1941, Marshal Gariboldi had become the Italian commander-in-chief in Libya. Theoretically, Gariboldi commanded Rommel, but Rommel operated independently of higher authority. He had learned to operate with a lot of initiative in the Great War, when he was a keen practitioner of the new form of warfare that almost won the war for Germany. Infiltration came close to salvaging the war for Germany. Once Rommel had learned how infiltration tactics were used, he became a keen practitioner. He found in France in May 1940 that they worked with mechanized forces as well as they had with infantry. The British found out that Rommel was to be the German commander in Libya on 8 March 1941. When the Germans landed in Libya, they were not very well prepared for what they faced. They were forced to learn "on-the-job" and adapt to the new conditions. The Germans were forced to modify their equipment for the unexpected aspects of operation in the North African theater, with sand, heat, and rocks. Rommel had visited Rome on 11 February to consult with his allies. Rommel arrived in Tripoli on the next day. The first German units to arrive were an anti-tank battalion and a reconnaissance battalion. Rommel vowed to take immediate command at the front and start pushing against the British. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.