The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS

All About Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel(7)…

Operation Crusader…

Allied counter offensive…

Following the costly failure of Battleaxe, Wavell was replaced by Commander-in-Chief India, General Claude Auchinleck. The Allied forces were reorganised and strengthened to two corps,XXX and XIII, as the British Eighth Army under the command of Alan Cunningham. Auchinleck, having 770 tanks and 1,000 aircraft to support him, launched a major offensive to relieve Tobruk (Operation Crusader) on 18 November 1941. Rommel had two armoured divisions, the 15th and 21st with 260 tanks, the 90th Light Infantry division, and three Italian corps, five infantry and one armoured division with 154 tanks, with which to oppose him.

The Eighth Army deeply outflanked the German defences along the Egyptian frontier with a left hook through the desert, and reached a position from which they could strike at both Tobruk and the coastal road, the „Via Balbia”. Auchinleck planned to engage the Afrika Korps with his armoured division, while XXX Corps assaulted the Italian positions at Bardia, encircling the troops there. The British operational plan had one major flaw. When XXX corps reached the area of Qabr Salih, it was assumed that the Afrika Korps would move eastward and accept battle, allowing the British to surround them with the southerly armour thrust. Rommel, however, did not find it necessary to do as the British planned, instead attacking the southern armoured thrust at Sidi Rezegh.

Rommel was faced with the decision of whether to go through with the planned late May attack on Tobruk, trusting his screening forces to hold off the advancing British, or to reorient his forces to hit the British columns approaching. He considered the risks too great if he chose to attack Tobruk, and so called off this attack.

The British armoured thrusts were largely defeated by fierce resistance from antitank positions and German and Italian tanks. The Italian Ariete Armoured Division was forced to give ground while inflicting losses on the advancing British at Bir el Gobi, whereas the 21st Panzer Division checked the attack launched against them and counterattacked on Gabr Saleh. Over the next two days the British continued pressing the attack, sending their armoured brigades into the battle in a piecemeal fashion, while Rommel, aware of his numerical inferiority, launched a concentrated attack on 23 November with all his armour. 21st Panzer Division held defensively at Sidi Rezegh, while 15th Panzer Division and the Italian Ariete Division attacked the flanks and enveloped the British armour. During this battle, among the biggest armoured battles of the North African campaign, the British tanks were surrounded, with about two-thirds destroyed and the survivors having to fight themselves out of the trap and head south to Gabr Saleh.

Rommel’s counterattacks…

On 24 November Rommel, wanting to exploit the halt of the British offensive, counterattacked into the British rear areas in Egypt with the intention of exploiting the disorganisation and confusion in the enemy’s bases and cutting their supply lines. Rommel considered the other, more conservative, course of action of destroying the British forces halted before Tobruk and Bardia too time consuming. Rommel knew his forces were incapable of driving such an effort home, but believed that the British, traumatised by their recent debacle, would abandon their defences along the border at the appearance of a German threat to their rear.

General Cunningham did, as Rommel had hoped, decide to withdraw the Eighth Army to Egypt, but Auchinleck arrived from Cairo just in time to cancel the withdrawal orders. The German attack, which began with only 100 operational tanks remaining, stalled as it outran its supplies and met stiffening resistance. The counterattack was criticised by the German High Command and some of his staff officers as too dangerous with Commonwealth forces still operating along the coast east of Tobruk, and a wasteful attack as it bled his forces, in particular his remaining tank force. Among the Staff officers who were critical was Friedrich von Mellenthin, who said that „Unfortunately, Rommel overestimated his success and believed the moment had come to launch a general pursuit.” In Rommel’s favour, the attack very nearly succeeded: Cunningham ordered a withdrawal, and only Auchinleck’s timely intervention prevented this.

Tobruk relieved, Axis retirement to El Agheila…

While Rommel drove into Egypt, the remaining Commonwealth forces east of Tobruk threatened the weak Axis lines there. Unable to reach Rommel for several days, Rommel’s Chief of Staff, Oberstleutnant Westphal, ordered the 21st Panzer Division withdrawn to support the siege of Tobruk. On 27 November the British attack on Tobruk linked up with the defenders, and Rommel, having suffered losses that could not easily be replaced, had to concentrate on retrieving and regrouping the divisions that had attacked into Egypt. By 6 December the Afrika Korps had averted the danger, and on 7 December Rommel fell back to a defensive line at Gazala, just west of Tobruk, all the while under heavy attacks from the RAF. The Italian forces at Bardia and on the Egyptian border were now cut off from the retreating Axis. The Allies, briefly held up at Gazala, kept up the pressure to some degree, although they were almost as exhausted and disorganised as Rommel’s force, and Rommel was forced to retreat all the way back to the starting positions he had held in March, reaching El Agheila on 30 December. His main concern during his withdrawal was being flanked to the south, so the Afrika Korps held the south flank during the retreat. The Allies followed, but never attempted a southern flanking move to cut off the retreating troops as they had done in 1940. The German-Italian garrison at Bardia surrendered on 2 January 1942.

Recapture of Gazala…

On 5 January 1942 the Afrika Korps received 55 tanks and new supplies and Rommel started planning a counterattack. On 21 January the attack was launched, which mauled the Allied forces, costing them some 110 tanks and other heavy equipment. The Axis forces retook Benghazi on 29 January, Timimi on 3 February, and the Allies pulled back to the Tobruk area and commenced building defensive positions at Gazala.

During the confusion caused by the Crusader operation, Rommel and his staff found themselves behind Allied lines several times. On one occasion, he visited a New Zealand Army field hospital that was still under Allied control. „[Rommel] inquired if anything was needed, promised the British medical supplies and drove off unhindered.”Eventually, Rommel did supply the medical unit with some medical equipment.

Anunțuri

2 responses

  1. Hello,

    can anyone tell me which is the best counter strike guide ? :)…i found this one :

    http://www.downloadzdb.com/Counter_Strike_Best_Guide

    What do you about wits it ?

    Thanx in advance

    Sorry for my bad english :s

    10 Martie 2010 la 8:53 AM

Lasă un răspuns

Completează mai jos detaliile tale sau dă clic pe un icon pentru a te autentifica:

Logo WordPress.com

Comentezi folosind contul tău WordPress.com. Dezautentificare / Schimbă )

Poză Twitter

Comentezi folosind contul tău Twitter. Dezautentificare / Schimbă )

Fotografie Facebook

Comentezi folosind contul tău Facebook. Dezautentificare / Schimbă )

Fotografie Google+

Comentezi folosind contul tău Google+. Dezautentificare / Schimbă )

Conectare la %s