Sie sind auf Seite 1von 23

Operation Crusader

18 Nov to 7 Dec, 1941


Units

British
German
Italian
xx
xx
xx
7

21

Ariete

After the utter defeat of Italian arms in


North Africa, by the British, during Sept
and Oct of 1940, Hitler decided to help
Mussolini hold on to what was left by
sending a corps size task force (The
Afrika Korps) commanded by Erwin
Rommel
Rommel was not one to sit on the defensive In
April of 1941, he defeated the British forces
deployed near El Agheila and Bengazi He then
moved to surround the British held port of Tobruk

Until Tobruk was taken, Rommel could not move


further eastward to achieve his main goal of
driving the British out of Egypt and controlling the
Suez Canal

Archibald Wavell, the overall


commander of the British forces in
The Middle East and North Africa
organized two operations to relieve
the siege of Tobruk (Operation Brevity
and Operation Battleaxe) Both failed

Churchill felt it was time for a new commander He


felt Wavell was tired - New ideas were needed

Auchinleck

In July of 1941, Wavell was sent to


command in India - He essentially
changed places with Claude
Auchinleck, the previous commander
in India
- Like Wavell, Auchinleck now had
responsibility for the entire Middle
East and northern Africa

Auchinleck appointed Alan


Cunningham (Victor over the
Italians in Ethiopia) as head of the
new 8th Army - an unfortunate
choice

Cunningham

Cunningham was coming from a theater where he


had commanded a maximum of 5 infantry brigades
He knew nothing about armor operations and a large
part of the British forces in the upcoming operation
would be armor
In his favor, Cunningham did not follow the usual
British procedure by keeping armor and infantry
completely separated He organized two corps 30th,
containing most of the armor with a significant infantry
component and 13th containing mostly infantry but with
a significant armor component of Valentine and Matilda
tanks
Still, he was way over his head with the size of the
operation and his corps commanders had no clue
about how to fight with coordinated armor, infantry,
anti tank weapons (AT) and artillery

Auchinleck was able to fend off Churchills


unceasing demands for a new offensive - He was
able to delay the offensive until November to
absorb new equipment and train the troops for
desert warfare

eeing all the new equipment, the troops were confident of vi

Unfortunately, new equipment and enthusiastic


troops could not make up for the incompetent
commanders and obsolete tactics

British Armor 1941-1942 - Operation Crusader

Matilda II - 40mm gun


max armor = 78 mm
Max penetration 40 mm gun
- 57 mm of armor at 500m

Crusader II - 40 mm gun
max armor = 49 mm

Stuart - 37mm gun


max armor = 38mm
Max Penetration 37 mm gun
- 48mm of armor at 500m

Valentine II - 40 mm gun
max armor = 65mm

The U.S. lend Lease Stuart could fire canister rounds for use
against infantry The 40mm guns on British tanks fired only
solid shot to kill enemy tanks

Afrika Corps Armor - 1941

Pz-1B - two 7.92mm MGs


max armor = 13mm

Pz-IIB - 20mm gun


Max armor = 30mm
penetration = 20mm at 500m

Pz-IIIF - 50mm gun


Max armor = 30mm
penetration = 58mm at 500m
Could also fire HE rounds

Pz-IVE - 75mm gun


Max armor = 30mm
penetration HEAT AT rounds 70mm
The Pz-IV E was primarily an anti
infantry weapon firing mostly HE

Italian Armor in North Africa

L3/35 Tankette - 6.5mm MG


-max armor = 13mm
M11/39 - 37mm gun
- max armor = 30mm
Penetration = 35mm at 500m

Autoblinda AB 41- 20mm gun


- max armor = 9mm
Penetration = 20mm at 500m
37 and 47mm guns can fire both
HE and solid shot

M 13/40 - 47mm gun


- max armor = 30mm
Penetration = 48mm at 500m

Next map

Halfaya Pass

Assembly area

British Advance to relieve Tobruk


British - 690 tanks (plus more in reserve) - 34,000 truck
Germans - 244 tanks - Italians - 146 tanks - 10,000 trucks

The British had the advantage of numbers in


armor Troop numbers were about the same
Brits-118,000
Axis-119,000
The battle
turned into
a confused melee as both sides lost co

Crusader - Opening Moves - 18 Nov


xx
Trento

xx
Bologna

xx
90

xx
15

xx
Pavia

xx
xx
Ariete

II

21

II

33

xx
Savona

xx
x
22

xx

xx
7 x 4
7

1 SA

x
22Gd

2 Arm Bde = 163 Crusaders30th Corps


Arm Bde = 129 Crusaders
1st Army Tank
Arm Bde = 166 Stuarts

NZ

4 IND x
1ATB

13th Corps

60 Valentines
60 Matildas

Crusader - Opening Moves - 18 Nov


xx
Trento

xx
Bologna

xx

xx

15

90

xx
Pavia

xx
II

xx

21

33

Ariete

x
x

II
xx

Savona

x
7 x 4 xx
22
22Gd
7
1 SA

xx

xx
4 IND

1ATB

NZ

Cunninghams original plan - await with massed armor


at Gabr Saleh for German counter attack - Rain masked
the advance Germans didnt know Brits were there in

Crusader - 19 Nov
xx
Trento

xx
Bologna

xx

xx

15

90

xx
Pavia

xx
II

xx

21

33

Ariete

x
x

II
xx

Savona

x
7 x 4 xx
22
22Gd
7
1 SA

xx

xx
4 IND

1ATB

NZ

Cunningham discarded the original plan - Armor dispersed 7th to Sidi Rezegh - 22 to Bir el Gubi - 4th stays at Gabr Sale

Crusader - 19 Nov
xx
Trento

xx
Bologna

xx

xx
III

15

90

xx
Pavia

xx
II

xx

21

33

Ariete

x
x

II
xx

Savona

x
7 x 4 xx
22
22Gd
7
1 SA

xx

xx
4 IND

1ATB

NZ

4th Arm Bde suffered significant tank losses but 21st Pz


had to withdraw Low on fuel Ariete dug in Held off
22 Arm Bde 90th Light surrounded 7th Arm Bde at Sidi

Crusader - 20 Nov

TOBF

xx

xx
Trento

xx

III
Bologna
III

x90 III
x
7 90
7

90

Pavia

xx
15

xx
Ariete

xx

22

21
x
4

xx
1 SA

xx
xx
NZ

Savona

xx
4 IND

1ATB
22Gd

A mixed tank and infantry force from Tobruk tried to open


a corridor to Sidi Rezegh while 15 Panzer attacked the
unfortunate 4 Arm Bde and 13th Corps advanced toward

Crusader - 21 Nov
x
xx
Trento

xx
Pavia

xx

TOBF
III
Bologna

III
90

x90 III
x
7 90
7
xx
xx

xx

15
xx

21
xx

Ariete

NZ

x
22

x
4

xx
1 SA

Savona xx

x 4 IND
1ATB

22Gd

15
and 21continued
Panzer withdrew
north to
TobForce
to try opening
a replenish
corridor toammo
Sidith and
fuel
while
7 Arm
BdeBde
retreated
to Sidi
Rezegh
30 Corps
Rezegh
while
7 Arm
charged
the
two
approaching
Pz
th
ordered to Sidi Rezegh while 13 Corps advanced to Sidi

Crusader - 22 Nov
- First Battle of Sidi Rezegh
xx

xx

III
Bologna
Trento TOBF x
III

xx
Pavia

x90 III
xx
x
x22
90 1 SA
90
77
4

xx
xx

15

21
xx
x

NZ

1ATB

xx
Ariete
x
22Gd

xx
4 IND

NZ
Division
dropped
off a brigade at
Sidi Azeiz
andDead)
moved
Battle
occurred
on Totensonntag
(Sunday
of the
toward
Rezegh
Rommel
an all
out attack
FierceSidi
battle
each
side lost ordered
about 60%
of their
armoron
British forces at Sidi Rezegh

With the British on the ropes, Rommel made a mistake


Gen. Ludwig Cruwell, commander of the
German armored forces, urged Rommel
to pursue and destroy the decimated
British armor
Concerned about his own losses Rommel felt the a
threat to surround the British forces would make them
withdraw as it had in Brevity and Battleaxe
He could then recover much of his damaged armor
and finally take Tobruk Possession of Tobruk was a
necessity if the Germans were to move on to
Alexandria
The result of Rommels decision was Known as the
Dash to the Wire (Barbed wire marking the Egyptian
frontier) 24 to 26 Nov
It almost worked

Rommels dash to the wire - 24 to 26 Nov


xx

xx

III xx
Bologna
Trento TOBF
III

xx
Pavia

90

III
90 15
90xx
xx

21

NZ

xx
Ariete

xx xx

NZ

1ATB

1 SA 7x
7

22x
4
x

British tank reinforcements


arrived at a rate of 40 per day

22Gd

xx
4 IND

21 Pz brushes the 4th Ind Div and heads into the British
As Rommel heads for British rear, Ariete tries to join but
rear area
runs into British armor
15 Pz heads north to try and recapture Sidi Azeiz NZ Div

Cunningham reacted exactly as Rommel had hoped


With 21 Pz on his supply route, he panicked and
wanted to withdraw
Auchinleck realized German losses had also been
high He relieved Cunningham and took over
direct command of the army around Tobruk There
would be no
retreat vehicle was separated from 21
Rommels
command
Pz Div for several hours, Rommel was lost
Meanwhile, the NZ Division created a crisis at
Sidi Rezegh Col. Westphal used his
prerogative as Rommels chief of staff and
took command of the German forces 15 Pz
was ordered back to Sidi Rezegh
Once Rommel was back in communication, he
approved Westphals action and also ordered 21 Pz
back to Sidi
Rezegh
Rommels
dash
to the wire had given 30th Corps time
to reorganize and absorb reinforcements A fatal

2nd Battle of Sidi Rezegh - 27 Nov to 1 Dec


xx

xx

III
Bologna
Trento TOBF
III

xx
Pavia

90

III
90

90
xx

NZ

x
xx

xx

Ariete

15

x
xx x x
7
x
1 SA 7 22
4

NZ

x
1ATB

xx
x
22Gd

xx
4 IND

21
xx
2 SA

German Panzer divisions were both recalled to Sidi


Afrika Korps troops formed a screen to slow down the
Rezegh and reclaimed the airfield but German armor
British advance and allow the rest of the Axis forces to
losses had been so high that they could not hold against

Although badly managed in its earlier stages,


Operation Crusader was a victory of sorts for the
British A victory due entirely to Auchinlecks
courageous decision to continue the fight
British tank losses were heavy, although possession of
the battle field allowed then to recover and repair all
but 278 tanks (British started with 690 tanks)
The Germans and Italians were forced to retreat and
left behind many repairable tanks Combined tank
losses for both Italian and German forces were 300
(They started with 390)
Casualties (killed wounded and missing) were about
18,000 British, 14,000 German and 24,000 Italians
There was air activity over the battlefield, but close
air support for either side was not decisive Many
actions were bombing raids in the enemys rear

Halfaya Pass

Rommel retreated to El Agheila to be nearer to his


supply source (Tripoli) He was followed hesitantly by
the British
Several
supply convoys with replacement tanks and
troops reached Tripoli shortly after Rommel reached El
Agheila
Rommel began to contemplate another offensive

despite objections from the Italian supreme command


s would lead to the Gazala Battles and the fall of Tobruk