Saturday, May 24, 2008
Naturally, the decision to allow time for training the troops greatly angered the Prime Minister. He decided that his men who he had sent to the Middle East had simply not answered the arguments. Churchill assumed that he was correct and that the commanders in the Middle East were wrong! After accepting mid-May, the commanders in the Middle East decided that they could not commit to an attack, even at that date. All this had occurred very early in April 1942. By 9 April, the Chiefs of Staff had become very concerned about the safety of Ceylon, and ordered the Middle East to send further forces East. They were ordered "to send 30 Hurricane IIs, 20 Blenheim IVs and a squadron of Beaufort torpedo-bombers". When the Middle Eastern commanders inquired about the situation, they were warned that the Japanese could well threaten India and very soon. General Auchinleck's reaction was that under the circumstances, it would be foolhardy to risk and offensive in North Africa when the situation in the East was so grim. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.