Decisive German Victory In North Africa 1942 - Timeline

Intro
Prologue - Writers basic background essay and perspective establishment

This thread will be my attempt to create an alternate history to the Battle of Gazala

Historically Gazala, Tobruk(42) and Mersa Matruh are typically lumped together. If one looks at the historical accounting of these 3 actions over the course of late May and most of June 1942, this was a decisive axis victory. Troop losses favored the axis nearly 10 to 1 across these actions, on top of incredible material losses to the allies in tanks, trucks, aircraft, artillery pieces, ammunition, and raw supplies like water and fuel. The axis captured numerous general officers and destroyed nearly the whole command structure of the X and XIII corps various formations assigned to the Gazala line

How did this happen? The British and commonwealth forces outnumbered the Axis in ground forces something like 5:4, although the axis air forces outnumbered the British at the start of the Gazala battle 5:4. The British where lavishly supplied with fuel, ammunition, motorized transport, whilst the axis where chronically short of supplies throughout the campaign, the spring of 1942, did represent the best supply situation they had experienced to date. The X fliegerkorps based in Sicily, along with Italian Regia Aeronautica forces had bombed Malta relentlessly, driving Royal Navy force K away, and loosening the choke hold on Rommel's supply lines to Tripoli. Additionally Goering had negotiated clandestine use of Tunisian ports and transfer of some French military assets to the Panzer Army Africa.

In equipment the German divisions of the Panzer Army Africa, where somewhat better off than their British counter parts. British cruiser tanks guns where underpowered, and had poor anti infantry performance. Their most effective tanks where American lend leased Lee tanks which despite having easily penetrated armor and an awkward turret layout reminiscent of the 20's designed French Char B series tanks, Did feature a hard hitting 75mm gun which could knock out German tanks at much superior ranges to most British tanks and anti tank guns. The transmissions and long roach march ability of British tanks of this era was notoriously poor. The Luftwaffe and Italian air force had a minor edge in the quality of their machines at that moment

So how did the British and their commonwealth allies lose in such a lopsided manner, and allow Rommel to get within 90 miles of Alexandria, having their army destroyed and embarrassed? When the forces where by combined measure, at parity. This scandal was so great that it generated a no confidence motion against Winston Churchill

The vastly oversimplified answer is command competence, namely the gross disparity in the high tactical competence of the Panzer Army Africa staff, radiated right down to its company commanders vs large scale criminal level command incompetence exercised by the British 8th army staff, from Auchinlek/Ritchie's staff right down to their company commanders. One can even add severely unhelpful political interference by Winston Churchill to the ledger of poor command competence on the British side, especially when seeing the debacle that occurred at Tobruk

Sir Alan Brook, the chief of the imperial general staff, and regarded by most postwar and independent reviews, as a smart man, regarded Auchinlek's staff as completely incompetent, and was instrumental in forcing their removal in later 1942 and ultimate replacement with Montgomery.

The running joke in Auchinlek's command was that two regiment's could only be assured of cooperating if their commanders slept with each other's wives, and given the performance at Gazala, it would be hard to rate this as anything other than a truism; the problems where not merely confined to the army, on the day Rommel launched his Gazala offensive, the desert airforce only had a single recon aircraft operating, and it was shot down first thing in the morning, letting everyone along the gazala line get surprised by axis tank columns materializing in their rear.

The existence of the Gazala line represented a wholesale British/Commonwealth rejection of every lesson taught by the 2nd world war up to that date, including their own experiences in France in 1940 and previous battles in the desert in 1940-1942. XIII corps formations where placed into defensive boxes, in theory backed by artillery and minefields but in practice, there were wide gaps, and artillery lacked the range to be mutually supporting between the boxes, and the boxes separated the divisions into penny packet brigades who could be defeated in detail by the combined might of the Africa Corps fighting as a cohesive unit. Ritchie and Auchinlek in effect created the same paper thin sort of line that field Marshal Graziani had created at Capuzzo, and where in turn just as vulnerable to massed armor bursting through and disrupting rear areas. The prized armored reserves operated in small Brigade groups with no coorindation with supporting arms, perhaps understandable as lacking in experience in 1939 or 1940 but criminally negligent by mid 1942. Nor was the command incompetence the sole province of 3 star generals, indeed Brigade, regiment battalion and company commanders along the Gazala line failed to respond the Africa corps movements and exercised (with only a few notable exceptions) no initiative to extricate themselves from the trap their superiors had put them in the position of. For as much as they fought bravely, they died or where taken prisoner at 10x the rate of the axis... British troops at the Somme and Gallipoli might hardly have noticed a difference and still been keen to drop the lions lead by donkeys remark of 1916

We should also note the significant failures of intelligence on the British side; for as much praise as they rightly deserve for project ultra, the 8th army radio network leaked, the desert air force radio network leaked, 8th army and middle east command headquarters leaked, and Rommel didn't depend entirely on Enigma, thus many of his orders went by courier or the more secure Italian military cipher network and the 8th army was left guessing when his offensive would begin

So against that historical backdrop, which my timeline will begin from, I shall introduce a single change that I believe creates the window for a more complete victory, namely a poorer performance by the only Allied unit that was well served in the battle of Gazalla, General Keonig's free French Brigade

It cannot be understated how brilliant a command performance was executed by general Keonig and his 3700 man strong brigade. surrounded in the first hours of the campaign by their exposure at the southern end of the line, they held back the 5 strongest divisions of the Panzer Army Africa and the entire might of their air force for 16 days, their ability to delay Rommel's supplies via the long detour around them created such critical shortages among Rommel's speerheads that he contemplated having to surrender and end the campaign in Africa right then and there. This timeline will see the point of departure, as having Luftwaffe bombers and Italian artillery locate and destroy General Keonig's hq on the first day of the battle, killing him and his staff. That first 48 hours where critical, as Rommel had coincidentally attacked at a time when the French Brigade was desperately low on water. Historically Keonig kicked his men back into line and they fought with a ferocity every bit as impressive as their fathers at Verdun, in my timeline, bereft of their commander and staff the XX italian motorized corps is able to penetrate their position in the confusion and compel their surrender

I look forward to sharing this timeline with you
 
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Chapter 1
Chaper 1

05-27-1942 1040hrs
3.3 km w-nw of Bir Hakeim

Autoblinda 41 (equipped with sand tires) #20 commander, staff sgt Gandolfi, divisional staff officer Major Martini, Luftwaffe coordinator Major Steiner observing
1st recon platoon
recon battalion
101st Motorized Infantry Division "Trieste"

SSG: There sirs, that recessed dugout, it's quite cleverly hidden but we used the antenna's and telephone lines to orient our search, we have been watching it since just before daybreak, we are certain that is the French Command post, staff cars have been parking a small distance off, over there and throwing on canvas covers to conceal themselves before going on foot the rest of the way to the post
MM: (after conferring with Major Steiner) Sargent, you are to pull back 1000 meters, the rest of your battalion is being brought up along with the 36th and 38th truckborne battalions and Collonnello Verdi with them to lead the assault. The artillery battalion and the Luftwaffe will provide suppressive fire in advance of your assault.

We will focus our fire programs and bombing attacks against your identified targets Sargent, as soon as the sun's angle reaches your back, hit the French with everything you have, favor your lines of advance and attack to the east and south east so you can pin the French against the 132nd, but your first target is the headquarters, living prisoners, and documents are a priority. The Trento division will launch a further attack from the north to pin those forces away from you, and have been ordered to march one of their regiments on your tail, to envelope the western half of the French forces. There's already a medal going in for you, for your work this morning, you can earn another one tonight Sargent

05-27-1942 1725hrs
6000 meters above Bir Hakeim (and falling fast)

JU-87D STG 2 #6 Feldwebel Dorne Pilot Grefreiter Martin Rear Gunner, escorted by two Schwarms 2nd staffel JG27 with BF-109's (newest model)

The Stuka was in a near vertical dive, late arriving Hurricanes and Kitty hawks where engaged with the escort, Dorne's staffel commander was a mere 250 meters ahead of him and fired 4 red smoke rockets into the target area to identify it for the rest of the group (the staffel commander being given precise coordinates by Major Steiner via ground to air set), not that Dorne needed it, he could see the French below rushing to the bunker, he armed his bomb and dropped it just a moment before pulling out of his dive. It was a direct hit, flying point artillery at it's finest, smoke billowed from the bunker and area around its as the rest of his squadron released their bombs, strafed the trenches around the bunker and rejoined in formation for the flight back to Bengazhi


05-27-1942 1729hrs
600 meters and closing from the Bir Hakeim box permiter west north west, in identified gap in minefields

Autoblinda 41 (equipped with sand tires) #20 commander, staff sgt Gandolfi, divisional staff officer Major Martini, observing
1st recon platoon
recon battalion- Battle Group Verdi
101st Motorized Infantry Division "Trieste"

Major Martini watched as the French all went to ground, from the waves of Italian and German Stukas. Other than the concentrated strike on the observed brigade headquarters, it was a repeat of the classic fire plan of 1940 developed by General's Guderian and Kesselring, chiefly waves of stukas maintained station overhead, some performing bombing or strafing runs, others conducting fake bombing or strafing runs, whilst circling BF-109's maintained escort for the bombers. This had the effect of nailing the free French to their trenches Trieste's 65mm,100mm, and 149mm cannons had opened up and where showering the Bir Hakeim box with high explosives.

Gandolfi's battalion surged through the gap in the minefields catching the 2 batteries of 2 pounder anti tank guns, seprated from their gunners whom had gone to shelter and quickly captured them. Gandolfi's platoon rolled right behind the creeping barrage (Martini updating firing coordinates via radio periodically, close behind Gandolfi in an appropriated British "Mammouth" command vehicle. French staff officers staggered and stumbled out of the command post as it belched smoke and flames. Gandolfi's platoon half dismounted and quickly disarmed the Brigade HQ security platoon and detained numerous staff officers in various wounded states. Staff Sargent Gandolfi's driver pointed to a dead Frenchman just inside the bunker door as they began to clear it (ultimately unecessary as those not killed by the kinetic force of the blast had succumb to the flames and smoke) "Stelle" (stars) meaning they had a dead general at their feet

SSG "Go fetch the major as soon as the fire is put out, grab anything that looks useful"
 
Chapter 2
Chapter 2

05-27-1942 2210hrs
Captured Free French Brigade HQ, Bir Hakeim Box

"Trieste" Divisional HQ Unit, Major General Arnaldo Azzi Commanding, Battle Group Verdi Security
101st Motorized Infantry Division "Trieste"

MGAA: Staring jaw half slacked at the near complete singed minefield map that had been located by members of SSG Gandolfi's platoon Get this to PAA staff immediately, remain there until they produce enough copies so that each battalion in the division has their own. You are to hand this document directly to Field Marshal Bastico or the PAA chief of staff, and no one else

SSG: What is that sir?

MGAA: It is my endorsement for you to receive the gold medal of valor for bravery in the face of the enemy

SSG: Thank you sir

MGAA: Martini, see to prisoners being brought back to Bengazi, Borgia, you see to the captured equipment, limber up anything worth taking into Egypt, spike or burn the rest; just a shame we didn't find much water, petrol or ration tins, the French seem to have been in as tight a jam with their supplies as we have been. Division needs to be on the move by 2400

maintain the pace direct East, south of the Trigh El Abd path, through the gaps in the minefields we now know about, our objective is Bir el Harmat, which should interdict supplies going to the British forces on our left, Trento division from XXX corps will eventually slot in our left, but in the meantime we will use the minefields and darkness only to screen our flanks until they catch up, there aren't any good attacking or defending lanes south of the trail anyway, so I doubt the British will come for us. That defensive box didn't appear to have any armor attached

Author's note: This ends the primary initial point of departure from the historical battle of Gazala. For reference the French where indeed surrounded by the 101st Trieste Motorized Division and the 132nd Ariete Armored division on the first day of the campaign, and General Keonig's forward command post was indeed vulnerable to bombing and shelling, and the French brigade was overdue for resupply. The decapitation strike here by Trieste, combined with infiltration/shock action and confusion of command on the French side has seen them over-run the box in the manner many of the boxes where destroyed in the historical battle including boxes destroyed by Trieste. Trieste's above stated path of advance is historical (after they historically broke the French box 2 weeks later than this time line)

The italian XX corps has gained a great deal of freedom of movement by this change. There would be well in excess of 30 miles of maneuver room in between the 150th British brigade box at Sidi Muftah and the 3rd Indian Brigade far to the south in the desert This will have devastating down stream effects on the 8th army due to Ariete, 15th, 21st panzer and 90th light Afrika division having vastly increased supply security in their drive to the British vitals, which will be covered in the following chapter(s)

The capture of the minefield map is semi historical, the 90th light Afrika division captured complete maps of all the Gazala minefields a few hours later than this historically when they over-ran the HQ of the 7th armored brigade
 
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Chapter 3
Chapter 3

05-27-42 2200
DAK Advanced HQ about 30 KM E-SE of Bir Hakeim
GeneralOberst Irwin Rommel command, situational update briefing by Oberst Siegfried Westphal, chief of DAK staff operations

OSW:

The 101st has reported the complete collapse of French forces stationed in the Bir Hakeim box and is driving towards Bir El Harmat, they report 3200 prisoners and a few worthwhile artillery pieces

The 132nd has scattered and destroyed the small British/Indian force south of Bir Hakeim, 1000 prisoners including their general, they seem to the be last tattered remains of the infantry force we crushed at Begahzi a couple of months ago. They identified as the "3rd Indian Motorized Brigade" disorganized reinforced British battalion rabble may have been more apt

21st Panzer has made good progress towards Bir El Harmat and has only encounterd scattered British patrols and supply convoys. Per your instructions, and due to the fast progress of the Italian XX corps, they will shift their attacks further east and bypass Bir El Harmat in the morning. Von Vaerests wounds are not life threatening and he should be fit for duty in a couple of days

15th Panzer has identified and surrounded the 4th armored brigade whom where marching towards the French box head long with limited recon patrols. They claim 48 tanks knocked out and 700 prisoners. 15th panzer reports the loss of 11 of their own tanks, 4 of which they deem repairable. They have captured 31 usable British tanks and their Panzergrenadier regiment will remain behind tomorrow to salvage the battlefield and pick over the area for supplies. Their recon battalion captured some fuel wagons with 20,000 gallons of petrol They will continue to drive East-North East to Support the 90th Light Division, but may be some hours behind the other formations whom where less engaged

90th light has made excellent progress as you know from our visit with GeneralMajor von Kleeman. They encountered the HQ of the 7th armored Brigade and captured their entire staff, including the commanding general by surprise, they also captured numerous maps and documents, and 5 company's worth of trucks, and 3 batteries of good mobile field artillery. With their intelligence windfall they are preparing to skirt east around the balance of the 7th brigade and race for the main British supply dumps at El Adem tomorrow. If the British do not retreat later tomorrow we will detail battle groups from the 90th light and 15th panzer to surround and destroy the 7th armored position. They are known to have several squadrons of the American Grant tanks, initial encounters have shown they are very dangerous in a tank duel, and are better engaged by anti guns and artillery

The 5 Italian line infantry divisions are continuing their demonstration attacks and artillery barrages along the Bir Temrad line opposite Gazla, except for the Trento division which on General Azzi's orders has skirted directly along the Trigh el Abd, to protect the flank 101st division. The Brescia and Pavia divisions have sent 6 truck born companies each to Trento, so in effect they have 2 mobile regiments instead of their normal 1. Trento has been made responsible to escort and deliver resupply convoys to the XX Corps and the DAK and is being provided with minefield maps. The DAK and Ariete tanks are all topped off on British fuel at the moment. Major Steiner has asked that we possibly transfer captured fuel stocks to the Luftwaffe and Reggia Aeornautica if that becomes possible later as they will need to displace forward to temporary fields as we advance Rommel nodded and agreed with that as a concept

Authors Note and perspective: The above mostly represents the historical progress of the XX corps and the DAK in the first 36 hours of the offensive. The changes as per the initial 2 chapters is having the 101st Trieste division defeat and capture the Free French Brigade, and having the augmented Trento division moved up to support them. These maneuvers all happened in the original timeline, just later, as it took the DAK and XX corps 2 weeks to defeat the French box in the historical timeline. We will start to truly see the effects of Trieste's victory the following day as the DAK and XX corps continue their advance

I have allowed for the historical wounding of General Von Vaerest in one of the few British spoiling air attacks of the day

For those wondering how did the desert air force and the British armored corps get caught so flat footed and dispersed, one should look at my initial note about intelligence gaps on the British command side from the first post, additionally as part of Operation Venice, General Rommel had ordered the DAK and XX corps to march in circles in front of the 1st South African Division and elements of the 50th British division at the northern end of the Gazala line the day before the offensive, including having several of his truck companies having aircraft engines mounted in the rear beds to kick up huge clouds of sand and dust, to make the British think he was assembling all of his armor for an attack in the north, the desert air force, ultra and British ground recon completely missed his mobile divisions, then pushing themselves on a night march to turn the southern flank of the Gazala line. The other captures of Generals, staff officers and documents noted above here in chapter 3 are historical. Rommel's 621st signals battalion was instrumental in steering the DAK and Ariete's recon battalions direct into the British and common wealth HQ's via their sophisticated and well practiced radio triangulation and interception; and as noted in chapter 1, British radio security under Auchinlek and Ritchie's command was lax at best
 
Chapter 4
Chapter 4 segment 1- The shopping spree

Black Thursday 05-28-42 2300
Forward HQ 90th light Africa division, Commander GeneralMajor von Kleeman (30km E-SE of Tobruk, El Adem area)
Prisoner interrogation Lt. General William "Strafer" Gott Commander British XIII Corps

Von Kleeman could shake off the exhaustion, 60 hours strait of marching, fighting and more marching

Today was Black Thursday for the British 8th army

Flush with their maps of British positions in the area, handily confiscated yesterday from the 7th armored brigade, the 90th light had performed a brilliant right hook around the 1st British army tank brigade (historical) destroying and capturing much of their rear transport, including 6 full water tankers. By mid day they reached what he could only consider paradise, the British El Adem supply dump:

This region had been built up over the previous several months to nourish General Ritchie's long planned and forever delayed attack against the PAA at Gazala, and his men where upon the greatest shopping spree of their lives, hundreds of thousands of gallons of petrol, water, hundreds of thousands of rations, cigarettes, millions of rounds of ammunition, 4 dozen running tanks under repair, and 26 British aircraft of the Desert airforce (which his unit destroyed on the ground)

They of course stirred up a furious response from panicked and surprised British rear security and logistic forces, but 90th light outnumbered them 8 to 1 and was reinforced right after lunch by the panzer regiment of the 15th Panzer division (butterfly from their eastward displacement) which gave them complete control of the area

Security was turned over to the 15th and Kleeman drove his half tracks and trucks full speed to the North East, vectored on by two of their divisions attached Fiesler storch aircraft and the 621st radio interception company which had identified the HQ of the XIII corps less than 10km away

90th light surged that distance in 30 minutes catching William Strafer Gott's corps command post in the process of limbering up to retreat following reports of the DAK reaching El Adem. They where quickly bracketed by self propelled artillery and anti guns, and Kleeman's armored cars dashed for the post hosing the area down with machine gun and 20mm auto cannon fire, with mechanized infantry right behind them hopping out of their half tracks grabbing staff officers and sprinting for documents before they could be burned. The entire corps staff including General Gott was scooped up in the maneuver having no armor or force greater than their tiny security company and an AA platoon them to defend them from the entire 90th division. Maps obtained, aircraft and prisoner interrogations showed there where no forces between the 90th and the even larger British supply dump at Belhamed

Exhausted and starving, but riding aboard Gott's confiscated command vehicle, and with their fuel tanks refilled from the El Adem dump, 90th light pushed on all through the afternoon reaching the front of the British rail head and the Desert air force base at Gambut, destroying another 40 British aircraft, with the recon battalion reaching the coast by 9pm. The supplies for a 2 month army offensive where before the 90th light including rail cars, tanks, trucks, ammo, cannons and everything they could want for the rest of the year. More rear area headquarters and logistics officers where captured

The capture of Gambut and Belhamed had significant tactical and strategic consequences, beyond the supply booty. In theory all of the British and common wealth forces on the Gazala line where now cut off, including the huge garrisons at Gazala itself and Tobruk. Gambut was within fairly easy aircraft ferry range to Malta, and had been being used to try and succor the starving garrison and populace of that island which was straddled across the PAA supply lines back to Italy. The Desert airforce lost significant numbers of machines, and pilots captured and huge stocks of forward fuel and would have to displace some distance back over the next couple of days, conceeding air superiority over the Gazala line to the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeornautica. The loss of XIII corps HQ and other staffs in the rear had dramatic effects on command and control throughout the area, which was already suffering from DAK forces stampeding their supply zones

As General Kleeman mused to General Gott, showing him a map of 90th light's progress the last 48 hours, they had reach 100 percent behind the British and knifed them in the neck before they even knew they where there

author's note and perspective: XIII corps HQ very nearly had this happen to them historically, missing being over run and captured by the 90th light by about 2 hours. 90th light could not pursue them because they needed to remain at El Adem to safeguard the huge cache of supplies they had captured. The British 1st army tank brigade punched air historically on this day and completely missed the 90th light, and largely became immobilized because 90th light captured or destroyed most of their supply tail. X corps HQ also missed being captured by 90th light historically by only a few hours, but 90th light's orders where not to march in their direction anyway. XIII corps HQ was directly between the supply dumps at El Adem and Belhamed/Gambut

Our timeline has seen the 15th panzer division maneuver inbetween the 1st tank brigade and the 2nd guards brigade (directions and instructions provided by 90th light who was advancing faster than them) and seen them able to join the battle at El Adem, and then hold the area so 90th light could resume it's lightening advance to the rear. All well possible with the elimination of the Free French box and the historical divisional spacing of the 8th army on 5-28-42
 
The butterflies is starting to make their mark. This sounds like the British front is going to collapse. Got to be tricky to lose water supplies in the desert
 
The main difference at Gazalla and what allowed Rommel to win it was his superiority in useful actionable battlefield intelligence

His access to the information from the cracked black code and the superb ability of his radio intercept unit combined with the then still relatively poor Op Sec used by British commanders gave him the edge.

There was no special sauce other than this that gave him an advantage and once he was robbed of both...........
 
The British are going to pour everything can into North Africa if it looks like it'll be a loss. You lose North Africa, you lose Suez. Also, the Afrika Korps was always a sideshow (especially given Barbarossa and its aftermath are in full swing)...
 
The main difference at Gazalla and what allowed Rommel to win it was his superiority in useful actionable battlefield intelligence

His access to the information from the cracked black code and the superb ability of his radio intercept unit combined with the then still relatively poor Op Sec used by British commanders gave him the edge.

There was no special sauce other than this that gave him an advantage and once he was robbed of both...........
As noted above the British and commonwealth forces had serious gaps in their intelligence, and Rommel at this period had a significant ability to read their mail, and the 621st was very skilled at not only listening to British radio messages, but physically locating HQ units in the endless desert, and directing fast battle groups to capture them, which was a standard DAK tactic throughout the campaign

Rommel did enjoy a number of ~special sauce~ advantages at the battle of Gazala, beyond his intelligence network including but not limited to:

1. His supply situation at that moment was the best it had been during the entire desert campaign
2. Most of the 8th army formations where raw untested units, due to the British shifting forces to fight Japan, and rotating out heavily damaged divisions from previous desert battles
3. Nearly the entirety of the 8th army's staff was untested in high level command, and had little to no experience in fast moving armored maneuver warfare. General Ritchie had never commanded anything greater than a company in actual battle
4. British doctrine coupled with severely intrusive and unhelpful political pressure from London put the command in a precarious tactical and strategic posture
5. Rommel, the DAK and PAA command staff had been blooded and battle tested the previous year and had mastered desert warfare, and had the authority, and the audacity to risk their entire theater command in every battle; so they always applied the maximum pressure at the decisive point
 
The British are going to pour everything can into North Africa if it looks like it'll be a loss. You lose North Africa, you lose Suez. Also, the Afrika Korps was always a sideshow (especially given Barbarossa and its aftermath are in full swing)...
I don't know if that's exactly true, it's pretty fair to judge that the 8th army was in the position that it was in, due to Britain's enormous worldwide military commitments, including the loss of all of the field equipment of their entire army in May 1940

World wide enormous Navy
World wide air force including enormous numbers of tactical and strategic squadrons based in the UK itself
Home defense/build up for Operation Round up
Divisions for the far east and threatened territories
Uboats aggressively fighting their lines of communications
Transfer of tanks, aircraft, fuel, and soft commodities to Russia to try and keep them in the war

The British war economy, by any objective measure was already being pushed to the limit, and they where increasingly reliant on what the Americans could transfer. So much as they could want to ~pour everything~ into Egypt they where limited by their very long supply line back home. So other than garrison divisions in the Mid East or Lower Egypt anything else is far off in the future. So a decision such as maybe sending the 1st Canadian Division from the Home Island to Egypt would have to take at least 60 days, I'd have to imagine sending an American division would take another 30 days past that
 
The British war economy, by any objective measure was already being pushed to the limit, and they where increasingly reliant on what the Americans could transfer. So much as they could want to ~pour everything~ into Egypt they where limited by their very long supply line back home. So other than garrison divisions in the Mid East or Lower Egypt anything else is far off in the future. So a decision such as maybe sending the 1st Canadian Division from the Home Island to Egypt would have to take at least 60 days, I'd have to imagine sending an American division would take another 30 days past that

Yeah I think you need to do some further research there, the British economy was in better shape than the German economy, it never had to ramp up to the same level of production precisely because it had the Americans and the Empire to rely on. By 1942 Germany was facing ration cuts, which in turn debilitated heavy industry. These were only reversed by the brutalties of the Hunger Plan. But of course I don't expect such facts to get in the way of the outcome you've already decided on. The Germans will be supermen and the British as weak and inept as your fantasy story requires.
 
I wonder how this is going to affect Operation Torch or any future American involvement in North Africa

Historically after the debacle at Gazala Churchill begged 250 of the first Sherman tanks to come off the line from President Roosevelt to refit the shattered 8th army, and those tanks, superior to 95 percent of the axis tank park where instrumental in Montgomery's ultimate destruction of the Panzer Army Africa. That transfer was a hot button issue with General Marshal and much of the American staff, as it heavily delayed the buildup of the first viable American expeditionary Army

Torch wasn't really agreed to until August 1942, over the heavy objections of General Marshal who felt it wouldn't relieve any pressure on Russia and that if Germany was going to be beaten and forced to surrender, it would be in France

Marshal was right and wrong, Germany was only going to be beaten and destroyed via invasion of Europe; but operation Torch drew off 3.5 high quality strategic reserve German divisions and 60 percent of their air transport fleet at precisely the moment they could have been used to relieve the encircled 6th army at Stalingrad

I could see Marshal instead suggesting that a unified American corps (or 2) be sent to Suez with those tanks in lieu of Operation Torch or giving them to the British
 
Yeah I think you need to do some further research there, the British economy was in better shape than the German economy, it never had to ramp up to the same level of production precisely because it had the Americans and the Empire to rely on. By 1942 Germany was facing ration cuts, which in turn debilitated heavy industry. These were only reversed by the brutalties of the Hunger Plan. But of course I don't expect such facts to get in the way of the outcome you've already decided on. The Germans will be supermen and the British as weak and inept as your fantasy story requires.

I have done plenty of research for this time period. I was making no criticism of the British war economy. Lord Beaverbrook and his staff were nothing short of miraculous, considering the British lost nearly the entire equipment of their field army in operation Sickle. They did rebuild the army, and where spitting out more planes than Germany, and Battleships and Carriers, and still sending war goods to Russia

but the addition Japan to the mix, with the need to juggle resources to the East, many of which where unfortunately lost in the early campaigns did put Britain in a real strategic squeeze, right at this time period

I would always argue that Britain's war economy was more efficient and effective than Germanys, even if their strategic usage of those war materials wasn't always the most optimal
 
I don't know if that's exactly true, it's pretty fair to judge that the 8th army was in the position that it was in, due to Britain's enormous worldwide military commitments, including the loss of all of the field equipment of their entire army in May 1940
You mean two years earlier with the stupidly powerful economic force known as the US helping them ever since?

Also, GERMAN forces were straining at this point. That’s why the Korps was starved of resources.
 
For me, reaching the Suez (or even the Nile) invokes Arab revolt, Iranian Revolt, and the Indian National Army. The British Empire's power relies on the perception of its power. Reduce their prestige, the perception of their battle power, and the usefulness of the Empire's component parts is reduced. Get the Axis on the Nile and I think you'd get huge numbers of Arab irregulars causing problems for the British. (If the Germans advance further, these Arabs become their problem to some extent, but they've got friendly preexisting contact with various Arab groups.)

Essentially, there's a chance the whole Middle East kind of unravels, forcing the Americans to garrison Abadan and the Red Sea, and invade Iraq and Iran so that the British can hurry men to tack down India.
 
Chapter 4.2
Chapter 4 segment 2- The shopping spree

Black Thursday 05-28-42 2359 Bir El Harmat
Forward HQ DAK GeneralOberst Rommel commanding, briefing by Oberst Siegfried Westphal, chief of DAK operations

Today was Black Thursday for the British 8th army

OSW: 90th light's field reports are simply incredible and the high level prisoners are on their way back. The glut of supplies at Belhamed isn't even countable, if we can ultimately retain them, it may be possible to motorize more of the Italian line divisions, even temporarily, but this may be wishful thinking, 90th light is more than 25km separated from the rest of the army and has no real contact with the rest of our formations; they don't even have a way to carry everything back; OKW and Commando Supremo did respond positively for our request for individual reinforcements to be flown in, at night to Gambut and be mated to some of the captured British kit; I will report back once something is decided there

15th panzer has cleaned up the remains of the 4th tank brigade and is fully assembled on the supply dump at El Adem, they are organizing to send some of the British mobile equipment to the rear for our Italian allies, and retaining the rest for themselves and 90th light. Motorcycle and armored car platoons are going back and forth to Gambut, but they would need several hours notice to reinforce 90th light if that becomes imperative. 90th light itself is a glutton right now, if they had to retreat we would need to give them at least 12 hours to limber up and burn everything else, even then we would be wasting much; this condition cannot remain for long once the British see how thin we are

21st Panzer has skirted the main minefields and Bir el Harmat itself. They report capturing and destroying much of the rear elements of the 22nd British Army tank brigade, including their mobile tank repair workshop They are expecting a counter attack from the 22nd tomorrow and are preparing for a defensive action in conjunction with the Ariete division

132nd Ariete arrived here in Bir el Harmat early today and captured some staff and logistics units of the 50th British division They have taken position opposite the 22nd British Army tank brigade. There are is a liason officer at each regiment of Ariete and the 21st Panzer, so their action should be well coordinated tomorrow. The luftwaffe and reggia aeronautica will have some evening strikes on the 22nd and larger strikes at day break

101st Trieste has cleared the minefields and scattered some British patrols and mobile columns, and will reach Sidi Muftah in the morning, which should allow them to dominate the supply lines of the British 150th Brigade defensive box

102nd Trento division has two regiments enveloping the Sidi Muftah box from the south and east and their other two regiments have cleared a path in the mine field and should have it fully enveloped from the north and west in the morning. They have clear more paths in the mine fields for XX corps and DAK artillery/AA assets to displace forward here to Bir El Harmat, most should be in place later tomorrow. Trento doesn't report any British movements of deploying for breakout

The 4 remaining Italian line divisions are holding and demonstrating opposite Gazala. No obvious British assembly for attack in their sectors as of this evening. All division commanders are hungry for the trucks from El Adem and Belhamad

Air resistance noticeably slackened late today due to the actions of 90th light and British command staffs being over run. The hits on our columns where they are occurring is locally devastating, we must keep tighter grips on British forces so they desert air force cannot distinguish us from their ground troops

Authors note and perspective: 15th panzer's butterflied movement was addressed in the last chapter. 21st panzer is east of the original timeline which would put them into the 22nd Armored Brigades supply zone, Ariete is at their historical location, Trieste and Trento are butterflied into the encirclement of the 150th British Brigade. (the 150th brigade was encircled and destroyed historically, by XX corps and the 21st panzer division, later than this, due to the need extended resistance of the Free French Box at Bir Hacheim and the lack of security in the supply lines to the XX corps and the DAK)
 
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