Thursday, October 28, 2010
Command questions and an army for Persia and Iraq
Because the Prime Minister wanted the new commanders in the Middle East to focus on defeating Rommel, he proposed a separate command for Persia and Iraq. He proposed that General Auchinleck be the commander. Auchinleck, himself, opposed the idea, as he felt that command over forces in Persia and Iraq belonged with the Middle East. Because General Auchinleck refused the command, General Maitland Wilson was appointed as commander. Auchinleck left the Middle East with Churchill's undiminished admiration, despite all the troubles. Auchinleck had been able to stop the Axis advance in the July battles and had thrown the Axis back on the defensive, with the British forces on the attack. Auchinleck had reported that the British would not be ready until mid-September, but in the event, the attack was not launched until 23 October. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History, which we have summarized here.