Friday, December 31, 2010
The New Zealand Division attacks
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The battle after the Battle of Alam el Halfa
General Montgomery realized at the end of the Battle of Alam el Halfa that the Eighth Army was not ready for an attack with the aim of busting open the front. He still wanted time to prepare for the big attack. After the end of the last battle, he wanted to only harass the enemy, although he would proceed with General Freyberg's planned attack to close the minefield gaps.
That attack would begin late on 3 September 1942. The 132nd Infantry Brigade had been replaced in the line by the 5th Indian Brigade, so it became available for the planned attack. The attack would consist of two three mile advances. The second would have the 151st Infantry Brigade by 4 September. The 7th Armoured Brigade would attack to the west in support of the operation.
The attackers on 3 September consisted of the 132nd Infantry Brigade and the 5th New Zealand Brigade with supporting Valentine tank squadrons. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The attacks on 3 September 1942 went badly
Monday, December 20, 2010
The Australians attack on 1 September 1942
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On 1 September 1942
Monday, December 13, 2010
The end of the first day, 31 August 1942
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The first tank fight of Alam el Halfa
Monday, December 06, 2010
Early on 31 August 1942
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
the Allied bomber force in North Africa in late August 1942
Monday, November 29, 2010
Montgomery's plans prior to Alam el Halfa
Right before the Battle of Alam el Halfa, Montgomery talked about his planned offensive. He would attack in October, and he would form a corps that mimicked the DAK. The new 10th Corps would be strong in armour. In keeping with that plan, Montgomery urged General Brian Horrocks to preserve his armour, so as to be ready for the attack in October.
For the immediate battle, Montgomery intended to use the Desert Air Force to continuously attack the Axis forces. He would also keep the Luftwaffe from interfering in the battle. The convoy battles in August 1942 were largely fought by the Italian air force, which allowed the German air forces to be repositioned to better support Rommel. The Axis air force in North Africa was now 720 aircraft strong, although about 450 were actually serviceable. To oppose them, the British had about 400 serviceable aircraft. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The British position on 30 Augusts 1942
Monday, November 22, 2010
Rommel's plan vs. reality for Alam el Halfa
Friday, November 19, 2010
The Axis supply situation was grim
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Rommel in August 1942
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
The air forces in August 1942
Monday, November 08, 2010
Run up to battle: August 1942
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Operations in the air in August 1942
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
The Axis supply situation in the late summer and fall 1942
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Command questions and an army for Persia and Iraq
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The air strength situation in the summer and fall 1942
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tanks shipped to the British forces in the Middle East
This shows the tanks shipped to the Middle East from North America:
We don't know this, but we can only imagine that many of the 407 in September were M4 Sherman tanks. This information is from Vol.III of the Official History: The Mediterranean and Middle East.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
General Montgomery takes command
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The replacements: August 1942
Friday, October 15, 2010
Churchill gives Auchinleck guidance
On 12 July 1942, the Prime Minster, Winston Churchill informed General Auchinleck that there no available divisions that could be sent to the northern front by October. At this date, there still had to be negotiations with the Americans about future plans and dispositions. Churchill recommended beating Rommel as the best solution for now. The General Staff expected that the winter would postpone the threat in the north until spring 1943.
Churchill had long been an Auchinleck supporter. He had from early on encouraged him to take command of the army in the field. Auchinleck had always thought that taking command of the army would cause the overall theater command to suffer, so he kept looking for subordinates to fill in as proxies in the army command. By May 1942, Churchill had become increasingly irritated that Auchinleck would not step in and command the army when Churchill had urged him to do so. By the time of his visit to the Middle East in the fall of 1942, Churchill decided that new commanders were needed in the Middle East to fight Rommel. He would move Auchinleck to a different command in the area (Iraq and Persia). Churchill wanted General Brook, the CIGS, to theater commander, but he demurred. Instead, Harold Alexander was become theater commander with Lt-General Gott as the 8th Army commander. These plans were disrupted when General Gott was killed when a Bombay was intercepted by German fighters, was forced down, and destroyed. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Uncertainty in the Middle East
Monday, October 11, 2010
High level meetings in July 1942
Winston Churchill was in negotiations with the Americans in July 1942, at a time when the British had no military successes. The Americans had been keen for a cross-channel invasion in 1942, but Churchill was able to dissuade them and to put in place plans more compatible with what he wanted to see happen. He was successful in getting the Americans to agree to a North African invasion and to postpone the cross-Channel invasion until the Allies were better prepared. The North African invasion was named "Torch" and was planned for 30 October 1942.
After these discussions, Churchill turned his attention to the Middle East. He had the sense that a change of leadership was needed in North Africa and the Mediterranean Theater. The British ought to have beaten Rommel in North African, and the generally held opinion was that with a better general, they would have. While Churchill was thinking of visiting the Middle East, he received an invitation from Stalin to visit Moscow. In the event, he made the trip on an American B-24 Liberator, an aircraft with the necessary range. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
The situation at the end of July 1942
Monday, October 04, 2010
Tanks, anti-tank mines, and anti-tank guns
The Official History's assessment was that at the end of July 1942, the British had not figured how to use infantry and armour in cooperation, at least in a changed environment dominated by more powerful anti-tank guns (used offensively) and by widespread use of anti-tank mines. The British plans for the battles in July were formulated as if the old situation were still in place. That is, that infantry could attack and open up corridors for armour to advance into the enemy's rear area.
The situation had also changed in that Rommel had gone on the defensive, rather than being prepared to blitz to exploit British weakness. The land in the narrows between the Qattara Depression and the Mediterranean was fast being blocked by mines and barbed wire. Fortunately for the British, by November, they would be commanded by the master of the fixed-piece battle, Bernard Law Montgomery.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
British special operations in support of the attack
Monday, September 27, 2010
The 69th Brigade comes to a bad end
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The operation starts to go wrong
Monday, September 20, 2010
One last attempt to break the Axis front
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
30th Corps, now an infantry corps
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The 2nd Armoured Brigade tries to intervene
Friday, September 10, 2010
The 161st Indian Motor Brigade attacks
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Another disaster for the New Zealanders
Monday, September 06, 2010
Trouble for the 1st Armoured Division on 18 July 1942
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
The planned attack on 21 July 1942
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
British forces after the three day battle (circa 18 July 1942)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The situation on 18 July 1942
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Air activity from 14 to 17 July 1942
Friday, August 20, 2010
Unhappy New Zealanders after taking heavy casualties
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Australians on 17 July 1942
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Action on 16 July 1942 at El Alamein
Monday, August 09, 2010
From later on 15 July 1942
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Thr 4th NZ Brigade in dire straits
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
The New Zealanders regroup
Friday, July 30, 2010
The 2nd Armoured Brigade intervenes
Monday, July 26, 2010
The Axis forces respond on 15 July 1942
Thursday, July 22, 2010
An assessment of the New Zealand Division on 15 July 1942
Monday, July 19, 2010
The New Zealand Division commences its attack: 14/15 July 1942 at El Alamein
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Auchinleck's plan of attack for 14 July 1942
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
British armour on 15 July 1942
2nd Armoured Brigade
6th RTR (with 1 squadron of 10th Hussars)
9th Lancers (with 1 squadron of 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars)
equipped with 46 Grants, 11 Stuarts, and 59 Crusaders
22nd Armoured Brigade
3rd County of London Yeomanry
joined in the afternoon by the Royal Scots Greys
equipped with 31 Grants, 21 Stuarts, and 23 Crusaders
This is based on Note 1 on page 349 of Vol.III of the Official History. I find this sort of information helpful, as the usual high-level descriptions lack actual strength data.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Air action on 11 and 12 July 1942
Monday, July 05, 2010
The Australians on 11 July 1942
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Axis forces fight back on 10 July 1942
At Panzerarmee Afrika headquarters, Rommel was absent. The officer left in charge, Lt-Col Von Mellenthin showed his usual energy and initiative. He ordered a portion of the 382nd regiment (they were a component of the newly arrived 164th Division) to form a defensive position facing he Australian advance. Lt-Col Von Mellenthin also commandeered some machine guns and anti-aircraft guns to be part of his improvised force. They were able to halt the Australian advance at the coast rail line.
Rommel had been caught in the south at Bab el Qattara. He hurried north with a battle group assembled from the 15th Panzer Division. The counter attack mounted broke through the 26th Australian Brigade front, but was thrown back. They left behind four knocked out Pzkw III tanks, one with spaced armour. All four had been knocked out by 2pdr anti-tank guns firing at their sides, where the armour was weaker. The British forces ended the day with about 1500 prisoners, most of them Italian. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The action at El Alamein on 10 July 1942
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
8 July 1942 in the north
Monday, June 21, 2010
A change in air operations
Columns in action after 4 July 1942
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Rommel regrouping on 4 July 1942 and later
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The situation by 4 July 1942
Monday, June 14, 2010
The action on 3 July 1942 at El Alamein
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
2 July to 3 July 1942 at El Alamein
Even though the British armour, backed by their artillery and New Zealand and 7th Motor Brigade columns, were left in possession of the ground, Rommel considered the fight on 2 July to have been indecisive. Rommel intended to attack the next day, although the German tank strength was down to 26 runners. The Italian 10th Corps would hold El Mreir, while the 20th Corps would more forward in the south.
The British mounted heavy air attacks all night, including one where the attacking Wellington was destroyed by the blast on the ground. The Axis ground forces did not receive the force of the attack, however, which was directed against the supply dumps near the coast.
General Auchinleck also intended to continue with his current plan. He made a few adjustments, as he placed the 1st Armoured Division under 30th Corps command. He ordered the 13th Corps to turn the enemy flank and attack their rear. The British armour actually absorbed the Axis attack in place, fighting a sharp action near Ruweisat Ridge. As we heard, the Germans started 3 July with 26 tanks while the 4th Armoured Brigade had 18 Grants, 22 Stuarts, and 12 Valentines. The 22nd Armoured Brigade had a further 20 Grants, 28 Stuarts, and 8 mixed cruisers, probably mostly Crusaders. The Official History, in Vol.III., upon which this account is based, says that at the end of the tank battle, the German troops were at the breaking point.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
The afternoon of 2 July 1942
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
2 July 1942 at El Alamein
Early on 2 July 1942, the 90th Light Division had attacked without success at El Alamein. Instead of sending the DAK around the British rear, Rommel redirected them to help the 90th Light Division break through to the coast road.
General Auchinleck also changed his plans, given the progression of the battle. Rather than have the %th Indian Division HQ and the 9th Indian Brigade be exposed in the far south, they would leave a column and pull back. The same was ordered for the 6th NZ Brigade somewhat further to the north. With Rommel clearly readying an attack at El Alamein in the north, Auchinleck planned a counter-attack by the 13th Corps, with the 30th Corps containing the Axis attack. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Later on 1 July 1942 at El Alamein
Monday, May 24, 2010
The afternoon of 1 July 1942 at El Alamein
Only at 1:30pm did 30th Corps HQ realize that the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade was in extreme danger. They were informed by the 1st South African Division of the situation. The armoured cars, however, made an erroneous report that made the brigade position was quiet. This report was made at 2:30pm. Finally, at the last moment, 30th Corps ordered the 22nd Armoured Brigade towards Deir el Shein, where the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade was near collapse. The 22nd Armoured Brigade ran into German armour and had fight. The Germans were from the 15th Panzer Division and were driven back.
Over the same period, the 90th Light Division had gotten in trouble. They had finally been able to disengage from the El Alamein position by 1:30pm. They came under fire from the entire 1st South African Division (all three brigades). They lost their composure and when they had regained it, they had "gone to ground". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The heroes of the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade
Monday, May 17, 2010
At the beginning of July 1942 at El Alamein
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The German air situation in late July 1942
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Rommel's opinions on 21 July 1942
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Rommel asks for reinforcements
Monday, May 03, 2010
British success in July 1942 meant an Axis disappointment
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Behind the lines
Monday, April 26, 2010
The air situation in July 1942
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
More about the British air effort in July 1942
When they were not supporting the army at El Alamein, the British air forces were engaged in a wide variety of operations. They hit distant targets with bombs, such as "Benghazi, Tobruk and Matruh", as well as Heraklion and Suda Bay. The types of operations included the strikes, providing air cover, and all types of reconnaissance (strategic, tactical, survey, and photography). The British air losses in July 1942 exceeded those of the German and Italian air forces. The British lost 113 aircraft "against about 80 German and 18 Italian".
Both Axis and British air forces and armies had difficulty in cooperating in July. The organizations that had been built up on the British side were all disrupted by the defeats and long retreat. Also, Auchinleck's HQ was separate from Air Marshal Conyngham's. The British were successful enough that the Axis forces were forced to disperse widely in the night. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The RAF in July 1942 in the desert
The retreat of the desert air force to Egypt resulted in a great dislocation. There was a shortage of airfields due to the large number of aircraft that were involved. One result was that the medium and heavy bombers were moved to airfields in Palestine. The fighters and light bombers were located from behind the front to airfields in Cairo and the Canal Zone.
With the front stabilized at El Alamein, the air force was able to commence a high intensity of operations against Axis forces. From 1 July to 27 July, there were an average of 570 sorties per day. The targets included the enemy supply lines, against the German and Italian air forces, and the actual direct support to the army. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The action in July 1942 at El Alamein
Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
No "last stand" at El Alamein
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Auchinleck's plan for El Alamein
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Back to the desert to El Alamein
As June 1942 ended, Rommel was intent on blitzing on t0 the Nile Delta. He hoped to keep the British on the run and not allow them to block his forward progress. General Auchinleck, for his part, was intent on setting up a blocking line at the narrow point of El Alamein. A few troops were already there and there were men streaming back from Mersa Matruh. Other troops were in transit from Iraq and Palestine, headed for El Alamein.
In the end, Auchinleck was successful and Rommel failed. Rommel's task was made more difficult by the lack of transport and the unpreparedness of the Axis transport organization. They had been promised a six week pause to recover after Tobruk fell, but that never happened. The leading Axis forces reached El Alamein about the same time as the forces retreating from Mersa Matruh. General Auchinleck planned to hold strong points, rather than establish a complete line. He hoped to "channel" the Axis forces into positions where they could be successfully engaged. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Air exploits in July 1942
Two events of note associated with aviators took place in July 1942. In one case, six Bristol Bombays were loaded with 1500 gallons of fuel and 60 gallons of oil. On the night of 9/10 July, they flew to an abandoned landing field near Fort Maddalena. Ten Fleet Air Arm Fairey Albacores flew in and fueled up for a mission. They intended to attack an Axis convoy near Crete. Sadly, they didn't sink any ships, but it was a good attempt.
In another incident, a Beaufort had to make a forced landing behind enemy lines. They were taken prisoner and were being flown to Italy. However, they were able to takeover the seaplane they were on and fly it to Malta. The seaplane was later used in service from Malta. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Effects of the retreat on land
Saturday, March 27, 2010
More about Malta
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Phases in the effort to keep Malta supplied
Monday, March 22, 2010
Axis forces that attacked the Pedestal convoy
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The merchant ships of the Pedestal convoy
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
The Pedestal convoy: the morning of 13 August 1942
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Heavy attacks on Pedestal in the night of 12-13 August 1942
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The Pedestal convoy takes damage on 12 August 1942
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
The last half of 11 July 1942: the Pedestal convoy
Monday, March 01, 2010
The first air attacks on the Pedestal convoy
Friday, February 26, 2010
The opening act of Vigorous
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Situation at Malta
Monday, February 22, 2010
The forces for "Pedestal"
Victorious: 16 Fulmars, 6 Hurricanes, and 14 Albacores
Indomitable: 10 F4F Martlets, 24 Hurricanes, and 14 Albacores
Eagle: 16 Hurricanes
This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
More of the war at sea in late June and July 1942
Monday, February 15, 2010
Other events in June 1942
Friday, February 12, 2010
Malta resurgent in July 1942
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
The failure of the June 1942 convoys
Friday, February 05, 2010
The Vigorous convoy returns to Alexandria
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Early on 15 June 1942: the Vigorous convoy
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Italian fleet menaces the Vigorous convoy
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
14 June 1942: the Vigorous Convoy
During the day on 14 June 1942, the Vigorous Convoy was in range of shored-based fighter cover. Late in the afternoon, they passed out of range so that only long-range Kittyhawks and Beaufighters were providing cover. Between 4:30pm and 9:15pm, seven different air attacks were mounted by Ju-87's and Ju-88's. At about 6pm, the merchant ship Bhutan was hit and sunk. The merchant ship Potaro was damaged but stayed with the convoy. As the sun set, the destroyer Pakenham had a near miss from a submarine-fired torpedo. A little while later, six motor torpedo boats were seen. After sunset, aircraft dropped flares to help the submarines and torpedo boats.
Earlier on 14 June, the main Italian fleet sortied from Taranto, intending to attack the convoy. The fleet was substantial: two battleships, 2-8-inch gun cruisers, 2-6-in gun cruisers, and 12 destroyers. They were on course to intercept the convoy at 9am on 15 June. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.