Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

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Urmel
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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 22 Jul 2022 09:33

ClintHardware wrote:
21 Jul 2022 18:25
And the major locations of the plateau were not needed to be held until a suitably resourced operation could be launched to take them.
I think that's a pretty fundamental failure on your part to correctly appreciate the role of terrain in the fights between May and December 1941. The Axis considered the border area crucial to their operations around Tobruk, and they were completely right. Handing it to them by default made the task of 'dealing with' the Axis forces immeasurably harder. Whoever noted the importance of preventing the Axis from securing Bardia - Capuzzo - Sollum was completely corrrect. If it was really Gott's view that this wasn't an important corner of the desert then he sinks even further in my estimation.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Gooner1 » 22 Jul 2022 17:23

Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:33

I think that's a pretty fundamental failure on your part to correctly appreciate the role of terrain in the fights between May and December 1941. The Axis considered the border area crucial to their operations around Tobruk, and they were completely right. Handing it to them by default made the task of 'dealing with' the Axis forces immeasurably harder. Whoever noted the importance of preventing the Axis from securing Bardia - Capuzzo - Sollum was completely corrrect. If it was really Gott's view that this wasn't an important corner of the desert then he sinks even further in my estimation.
Which is to assume that the British could have held the border areas if they chose to.

And were the Axis correct to consider the border areas crucial to their operations around Tobruk? By the time the British had built up their forces enough to take to the offensive with a prospect of success it seems the Axis border garrisons were as much a liability as an asset.

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 22 Jul 2022 19:46

You're still on my ignore list.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 22 Jul 2022 20:52

David W wrote:
21 Jul 2022 21:03
Against the Prime Minister, that was easier said than done. There is only so much resistance he could offer.
Yes, the PM was pressing hard - but at the end of the day, Churchill wouldn't override direct military advice. If Wavell and Dill had flatly stated that the resources provided were insufficient, it is highly unlikely that Churchill would have directly ordered them to implement Battleaxe.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Peter89 » 23 Jul 2022 08:19

Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:28
Peter89 wrote:
22 Jul 2022 07:51
If Battleaxe didn't happen, the British wouldn't be prompted to adress a series of issues. The structural dynamics behind how they reached the level to Crusader is way less emphasized than it should have been. The whole force structure of the British was inadequate. Playfair is neutral enough, but does not go as deep as Porch. These failures were of crucial importance, because not simply the troops and the generals learned, but the Londonites too. They were learning how to win, and they had the strategic depth and resources for that. One might even argue that an overly successful and premature victory could leave the British with false ideas and a much weaker organizational structure, both of which could offset their superiority in resources.
Which issues (other than air support, which is well documented by Bechtold) were addressed? They ended up getting a lot more stuff and additional formations, but that was in the pipeline anyway, they didn't have to lose BATTLEAXE for that to happen.
The crucial point was to get familiar with desert warfare: how do they translate the material superiority into battlefield victories? That went beyond getting more stuff. Issues of maintenance, logistics, medical care, artillery preparation, night actions, CCC were all on the table. The guys in London realized that Wavell was not faking his requirements, those needs were true. Both were important factors.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Peter89 » 23 Jul 2022 08:20

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
22 Jul 2022 20:52
David W wrote:
21 Jul 2022 21:03
Against the Prime Minister, that was easier said than done. There is only so much resistance he could offer.
Yes, the PM was pressing hard - but at the end of the day, Churchill wouldn't override direct military advice. If Wavell and Dill had flatly stated that the resources provided were insufficient, it is highly unlikely that Churchill would have directly ordered them to implement Battleaxe.

Regards

Tom
Why wouldn't he? He overrode Wavell in the case of Iraq and he was right. Was it not up to Churchill, Iraq would have been lost, and probably the whole Middle East destabilizes for the year.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 24 Jul 2022 14:41

Peter89 wrote:
23 Jul 2022 08:19
Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:28
Peter89 wrote:
22 Jul 2022 07:51
If Battleaxe didn't happen, the British wouldn't be prompted to adress a series of issues. The structural dynamics behind how they reached the level to Crusader is way less emphasized than it should have been. The whole force structure of the British was inadequate. Playfair is neutral enough, but does not go as deep as Porch. These failures were of crucial importance, because not simply the troops and the generals learned, but the Londonites too. They were learning how to win, and they had the strategic depth and resources for that. One might even argue that an overly successful and premature victory could leave the British with false ideas and a much weaker organizational structure, both of which could offset their superiority in resources.
Which issues (other than air support, which is well documented by Bechtold) were addressed? They ended up getting a lot more stuff and additional formations, but that was in the pipeline anyway, they didn't have to lose BATTLEAXE for that to happen.
The crucial point was to get familiar with desert warfare: how do they translate the material superiority into battlefield victories? That went beyond getting more stuff. Issues of maintenance, logistics, medical care, artillery preparation, night actions, CCC were all on the table. The guys in London realized that Wavell was not faking his requirements, those needs were true. Both were important factors.
I honestly don't see much of this. The first training pamphlet came out in September, and it was light, not unit-specific. The next ones (armour, motor battalions, possibly armour/artillery) didn't come before November 1941, and time for the troops to digest them was close to nothing. Maybe one exercise worth. These pamphlets were quickly re-issued and new ones came out in short order through CRUSADER and after into early 1942. There was a very systematic lessons-learned exercise after CRUSADER, much of which has survived in Kew.

So I don't see the failures of BATTLEAXE translate into a better army that could substantially improve its performance based on the experience. The whole performance during CRUSADER is testament to that. Allied forces remained as incompetent and badly led on the whole as they had been before. They were rescued by the fact that they had more stuff to throw at the Axis, and that the Axis command tried to out-incompetence them, and did very well at that, not because they had learned some deep lessons.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 25 Jul 2022 05:57

Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:33

I think that's a pretty fundamental failure on your part to correctly appreciate the role of terrain in the fights between May and December 1941. The Axis considered the border area crucial to their operations around Tobruk, and they were completely right. Handing it to them by default made the task of 'dealing with' the Axis forces immeasurably harder. Whoever noted the importance of preventing the Axis from securing Bardia - Capuzzo - Sollum was completely corrrect. If it was really Gott's view that this wasn't an important corner of the desert then he sinks even further in my estimation.
I don't agree. The positions were important to the Axis and to British and Commonwealth troops but the Axis hold on them was something that did not stop Crusader or the launch of previous limited operations. The Axis believed that they had to divide their forces between laying siege to Tobruk and shielding Tobruk by holding those positions close to the frontier. The two British retreats from Halfaya were not a show stopper and meanwhile those Axis positions had to be supplied and were subject to daily air interdiction. Why was the Halfway House Pass not more heavily developed to make Halfaya less significant? And Bardia was a port in which to locate and attack Axis shipping. There was no report or expectation that the Axis hold on those positions made operations impossible to relieve Tobruk.
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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 25 Jul 2022 10:30

You're clearing moving out of the realm of reasonable and fact-based discussion, so I suggest we leave it there. Good luck with your books.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 25 Jul 2022 19:46

Urmel wrote:
25 Jul 2022 10:30
You're clearing moving out of the realm of reasonable and fact-based discussion, so I suggest we leave it there. Good luck with your books.
No. That is insulting. For decades reporting of what happened has not been good enough or complete, and publishers have cut hundreds of pages out of books to make their profits higher. You and I have been driven to discover more from further research. So far my research of original war diaries and reports do not support your opinions on this limited aspect of the history of the frontier 10th April - 14th May. The DAK KTB does not overturn what I have discovered either - each side was quite unclear of what the other had or was up to.

I look forward to one day reading your book on Crusader, I am sure it will be a very good read.
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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 25 Jul 2022 22:00

I'm sorry you don't like it, but your claims about the lack of importance of the escarpment or the benefits of leaving it to the Axis uncontested are not based in reality.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Peter89 » 26 Jul 2022 05:47

Urmel wrote:
24 Jul 2022 14:41
Peter89 wrote:
23 Jul 2022 08:19
Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:28
Peter89 wrote:
22 Jul 2022 07:51
If Battleaxe didn't happen, the British wouldn't be prompted to adress a series of issues. The structural dynamics behind how they reached the level to Crusader is way less emphasized than it should have been. The whole force structure of the British was inadequate. Playfair is neutral enough, but does not go as deep as Porch. These failures were of crucial importance, because not simply the troops and the generals learned, but the Londonites too. They were learning how to win, and they had the strategic depth and resources for that. One might even argue that an overly successful and premature victory could leave the British with false ideas and a much weaker organizational structure, both of which could offset their superiority in resources.
Which issues (other than air support, which is well documented by Bechtold) were addressed? They ended up getting a lot more stuff and additional formations, but that was in the pipeline anyway, they didn't have to lose BATTLEAXE for that to happen.
The crucial point was to get familiar with desert warfare: how do they translate the material superiority into battlefield victories? That went beyond getting more stuff. Issues of maintenance, logistics, medical care, artillery preparation, night actions, CCC were all on the table. The guys in London realized that Wavell was not faking his requirements, those needs were true. Both were important factors.
I honestly don't see much of this. The first training pamphlet came out in September, and it was light, not unit-specific. The next ones (armour, motor battalions, possibly armour/artillery) didn't come before November 1941, and time for the troops to digest them was close to nothing. Maybe one exercise worth. These pamphlets were quickly re-issued and new ones came out in short order through CRUSADER and after into early 1942. There was a very systematic lessons-learned exercise after CRUSADER, much of which has survived in Kew.

So I don't see the failures of BATTLEAXE translate into a better army that could substantially improve its performance based on the experience. The whole performance during CRUSADER is testament to that. Allied forces remained as incompetent and badly led on the whole as they had been before. They were rescued by the fact that they had more stuff to throw at the Axis, and that the Axis command tried to out-incompetence them, and did very well at that, not because they had learned some deep lessons.
Yes, but were these training pamphlets on the pipeline before Battleaxe? Did they build on the experience gathered there?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 26 Jul 2022 06:29

Urmel wrote:
25 Jul 2022 22:00
I'm sorry you don't like it, but your claims about the lack of importance of the escarpment or the benefits of leaving it to the Axis uncontested are not based in reality.
Like? Like?? Where is the evidence you are wanting to rely upon?

By the time Crusader was launched the situation had changed due to the level of fortification of Halfaya, Sollum and Bardia - but April - May 1941 the situation of taking those positions was not super critical - they could be overcome and when forces were concentrated and prepared.

It seems you are confusing the Crusader period fortification level situation as though it always applied from the 10th April 1941.

Give us relevant evidence.
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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 26 Jul 2022 06:40

And the temporary benefits of leaving it for the Axis was splitting their forces away from Tobruk (an Axis choice) and interdicting their supplies whilst concentrating sufficient force which came with Crusader. And then there were significant Axis forces cut off by Crusader.

Gott's limited troops in April did not provide choice.

Where is your evidence?
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Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 26 Jul 2022 08:40

Peter89 wrote:
26 Jul 2022 05:47
Urmel wrote:
24 Jul 2022 14:41
Peter89 wrote:
23 Jul 2022 08:19
Urmel wrote:
22 Jul 2022 09:28
Peter89 wrote:
22 Jul 2022 07:51
If Battleaxe didn't happen, the British wouldn't be prompted to adress a series of issues. The structural dynamics behind how they reached the level to Crusader is way less emphasized than it should have been. The whole force structure of the British was inadequate. Playfair is neutral enough, but does not go as deep as Porch. These failures were of crucial importance, because not simply the troops and the generals learned, but the Londonites too. They were learning how to win, and they had the strategic depth and resources for that. One might even argue that an overly successful and premature victory could leave the British with false ideas and a much weaker organizational structure, both of which could offset their superiority in resources.
Which issues (other than air support, which is well documented by Bechtold) were addressed? They ended up getting a lot more stuff and additional formations, but that was in the pipeline anyway, they didn't have to lose BATTLEAXE for that to happen.
The crucial point was to get familiar with desert warfare: how do they translate the material superiority into battlefield victories? That went beyond getting more stuff. Issues of maintenance, logistics, medical care, artillery preparation, night actions, CCC were all on the table. The guys in London realized that Wavell was not faking his requirements, those needs were true. Both were important factors.
I honestly don't see much of this. The first training pamphlet came out in September, and it was light, not unit-specific. The next ones (armour, motor battalions, possibly armour/artillery) didn't come before November 1941, and time for the troops to digest them was close to nothing. Maybe one exercise worth. These pamphlets were quickly re-issued and new ones came out in short order through CRUSADER and after into early 1942. There was a very systematic lessons-learned exercise after CRUSADER, much of which has survived in Kew.

So I don't see the failures of BATTLEAXE translate into a better army that could substantially improve its performance based on the experience. The whole performance during CRUSADER is testament to that. Allied forces remained as incompetent and badly led on the whole as they had been before. They were rescued by the fact that they had more stuff to throw at the Axis, and that the Axis command tried to out-incompetence them, and did very well at that, not because they had learned some deep lessons.
Yes, but were these training pamphlets on the pipeline before Battleaxe? Did they build on the experience gathered there?
I think it is certain that they did, since BATTLEAXE was the first major engagement with German forces and there are circumspect references to it in the No.1 pamphlet. My point is that with the first of these coming in September, and the following ones not before November, there is little impact they could have had on the performance of Allied troops in CRUSADER. See the ToC here and consider the breadth of stuff they cover and the number of pages they cover it in.
Screen Shot 2022-07-26 at 9.39.40 AM.jpg
No.10, Admin Lessons, did not appear until March 1942 and drew specifically on CRUSADER.

I maintain there simply wasn't time for them to digest things from BATTLEAXE systematically. I'm happy to be convinced otherwise, but I haven't seen evidence in the files that makes me think I am wrong on this. Having said that, I haven't systematically looked for it either.

That's before we get into the fact that BATTLEAXE was practically a reinforced division operation, while CRUSADER was an Army level undertaking, so entirely different needs and challenges, and the first time they did this in the face of the enemy since World War 1. So the applicability of any lessons was correspondingly limited as well.

I suspect the purpose of the pamphlets may well have been to impart information on the vast number of new troops arriving in the desert (Kiwis, South Africans, lots of troops from the UK, 70 Division), rather than teaching old dogs new tricks.
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The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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