Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Humpday History Highlight

April 2, 1941 - "The Desert Fox" Recaptures Libya

On this day in 1941, German Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, "the Desert Fox," resumes his advance into Cyrenaica, modern-day Libya, signaling the beginning of what nine days later will become the recapture of Libya by the Axis forces.

Early Italian successes in East Africa, which included occupying parts of Sudan, Kenya, and British Somaliland, were soon reversed after British offensives, led by British Field Marshall Archibald Wavell, resulted in heavy Italian casualties and forced the Italians to retreat into Libya. But Axis control of the area was salvaged by the appearance of Rommel and the Afrika Korps, sent to East Africa by the German High Command to bail their Italian ally out.

On the verge of capturing Tripoli, the Libyan capital, Britain's forces were suddenly depleted when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill transferred British troops to Greece. Seizing the opportunity of a weakened British force, Rommel struck quickly, despite orders to remain still for two months. With 50 tanks and two fresh Italian divisions, Rommel forced the British to begin a retreat into Egypt. (H/T - History.com)

When it comes to military tacticians, there were few better than Rommel. Had Hitler not completely ignored his pleas for material, Rommel's tankers would have reached the Middle East and its oil fields. Of course, it didn't help that the Allies decimated the Nazis shipping lanes, either.

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