- 26th and 27th May 1942. Rommel`s Crowning Glory ?
The Battle of Gazala has become known as Rommel`s finest moment in battle, but a close examination of it reveals that the outcome was more due to the incapacity of the Allied Desert Command (Auchinleck and Ritchie) to cope with such a mobile war. It has to be said at this point that the tactics used at Gazala by Rommel, as well as those used at Alam Halfa are extremely similar in that a feint or fake in the North was followed by the real attack in the South in an outflanking manoeuvre. The Allied commanders had been informed by ULTRA Rommel`s intentions to attack and when, but not where and how. With the Eighth Army in a static defence position and scattered piecemeal in the form of strong-points or 'boxes' with only parts of the armour committed to their defence, Rommel`s plan achieved initial surprise and gained ground at first, but German intelligence had underestimated the strength of the Eighth Army and fierce armoured battles raged with the Afrika Corps supply lines in a bad way. Rommel withdrew to the Cauldron where he was practically encircled, but the Allies failed to counter attack .When he had regrouped and re-established his supply lines Rommel took Bir Hakeim and then finally, his objective Torbruk on 21st June.
Gazala was hardly a stroke of genius on Rommel`s behalf, but it did reach its objective and pushed the Eighth Army further back towards Egypt. For the Eighth Army it showed the inadequacy of its leadership and led to General Ritchie's and later Auchinlecks removal.
Diverted and Committed Troops
Weapons In North Africa
Commanders and their tactics
High Command Disputes And Interference
Concluding thoughts on the North African Campaign