Manstein in Africa: The Genius of the Desert

A COMPROMISED CHOICE

At the fuhrer's military conference January 1941

Present were Hitler, Jodl, Keitel, Von Thoma, Halder, Brauchitsch, Goring, Raeder and their associated staffs discussing the upcoming deployment of German troops to Africa

Hitler: General Von Thoma please tell all the men here what you've told me about your visit to the Libyan front
Thoma: Yes my fuhrer. The Italians have been completely routed. Their 10th army was lost with over 100,000 prisoners against just two or three British divisions which hardly lost any men at all. The British have complete air superiority and without our help the Italians will be quickly pushed out of the entire country. I recommend the introduction of German ground troops which has already been approved along with air units. It would seem 4 mechanized divisions would be the maximum that could be supported and the minimum for victory in Egypt.
Hitler: I have allotted three divisions for this task General
Thoma: That may not be enough my fuhrer. If we just wish to block to the British and not conduct any offensive operations only one division would be needed. Any other course except for one division or four is not advisable. It would be better for us to give up on the whole enterprise and let the Italians deal with it themselves.
Hitler: I have promised Signor Mussolini an expeditionary corps and will honor that arrangement, I do accept your idea for a 4th division to be added on the condition that after victory in Egypt they be made available for operations against Russia. Generalfeldmarshal Keitel please arrange for the 7th Panzer division to be sent to Naples for work in Africa
Keitel: I will issue the orders
Hitler: Now we need a commander for Africa. I am inclined to promote Rommel from 7th Panzer especially since we are going to use his division
Keitel: He is too ambitious my fuhrer. He also doesn't stay in touch with high command. Due to our need to cooperate with the Italians in this theater I think he could cause a lot of friction... there are other officers who could be more diplomatic and still have the gifts to command an armored corps
Hitler: General Von Thoma, you have worked with the Italians in Spain, would you accept command of our Africa Corps?
Thoma: Although I have developed knowledge of the Italian army and worked with them, this would create problems my fuhrer. Their high command is well aware of my negative opinions of their military. To appoint me would cause serious problems and they would not cooperate with me. Perhaps I could serve on the staff but it should be another officer in charge of the theater... I am so sorry my fuhrer
Hitler: Your points are taken General Von Thoma. I shall keep you out of the theater if this is true that the Commando Supremo doesn't care for you. Gentlemen I want to hear suggestions of a commanding officer

A few names were thrown out, Von Funk, Guderian, Hoth, Reinhardt, Kirchner and Hoeppner. All were rejected for different reasons although most stemmed from their important assignments in the upcoming invasion of Russia and that they couldn't be spared for this back water theater.

Thoma: I have a suggestion my fuhrer
Hitler: Go ahead
Thoma: General Von Manstein of 38th infantry corps
Hitler: I was planning to give him 56th Panzer Corps for Barbarossa. That man is extremely clever it was he who developed our successful march on France. He is not much a National Socialist though
Thoma: He is a brilliant staff officer my fuhrer and well versed in infantry and armored warfare. Since he comes from a staff background he will cooperate much more fully with our own and the Italian general staff. His record is exemplary.
Hitler: What do you gentlemen think about Manstein
Halder: A tough as stone officer my fuhrer. His stubborness and drive got his plan for France approved. His command of 38th corps was also among the best in the army, he would be a wise choice.

The other officers in the room nodded in agreement

Keitel: I have disagreed with him over the years but I must admit he has been right many times he would be a great choice my fuhrer.
Hitler: Then its settled Manstein will command our Africa Corps. Schmundt I want you to go pick up Manstein and have him meet with me in two days before he entrains for Italy. You all have your orders this conference is over!

to be continued....

hope this is off to a good start
 
MY FIRST OBSERVATIONS:

January 1941

Manstein was picked up by Schmundt in a fast HE-111 bomber for a quick tour of the Libyan front before his briefing with Hitler. He viewed the reorganizing Italian 5th army approximately 150,000 strong. He also saw the British were sitting supine and a good front could be held around the gulf of Sirte.

The Via Balbia streched out like a long thread throughout the endless sandy tracks

Manstein was shocked when the recently deployed X Fleigerkorps was not bombing British convoys steaming into Bengahzi.

We have been asked by the Commando Supremo not to bomb the city. They say much of the property is Italian

I don't give a damn, the port is helping the British we must attack.

I have my orders Herr General.

I will get you new orders

Manstein placed a quick phone call to Hitler's HQ

My fuhrer the Macaronnis will not let the Luftwaffe bomb Bengahzi. They say much of the city is Italian property. During my flight over I saw three big British cargo ships being unloaded in the port.

I will instruct Goring to give the Bombers authorization to fly. Do not worry about this kind of interference again General Von Manstein. I shall contact senior Mussolini and clear that all up

Manstein was a general without troops for now. The 5th light wouldn't begin arriving till February and the rest of his troops would take another couple months past that assuming the Reggia Marina could guard the convoys. He would have to make sure they were safely delivered.

Manstein arrived at Hitler's military HQ the next day for his briefing and promotion.

Hitler: I am giving you 4 divisions Manstein. I expect victory in Egypt in no uncertain terms. Your first objective will be the Suez Canal then additional forces will be provided for a drive through the Middle East so you can threaten Russia from the south.
Manstein: A most ambitious objective my fuhrer. I am already exploring the operation posibilities
Hitler: You will need a commander for 7th Panzer division. Rommel will be getting a corps in Russia. Von Ravenstein will be promoted to division commander in another unit so he will be unavailable.
Manstein: May I select my subordinate my fuhrer?
Hitler: Who do you suggest to command 7th Panzer
Manstein: If the fuhrer is giving me the choice I would like to request Hermann Balck of the inspectorate formally of 1st Rifle Regiment/1st Panzer Division
Hitler: Guderian said he was an excellent line officer I have no objection the appointment will be approved. You have your orders Manstein. The Reichsmarshal will accompany you to Rome and then to Naples aboard his private train. He will make all the necessary arrangements for you. I have ordered him to give you maximum air support since we are committing to victory in Egypt. These forces will assist you until they are needed for our decisive fight against Russia. Do not waste them! Dismissed!

to be continued....

your thoughts so far


two updates in one day because YOU all deserve it :)
 
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I have 20 chapters outlined for our friend manstein in this work... the rommel stuff is going to be a bit more complicated to write, if someone wants to collaborate the rommel portion with me id be very interested.

just picked up guderians book, and rommel and patton men at war so i could get background on it to see him with army group center
 
You will have all the resources at my disposal! (chapter 3)

At Manstein's briefing at Commando Supremo Rome Italy 1941,

Present were Bastico (who replaced the relieved Graziani), Badaglio, Manstein, Goring, and Balck who was picked up by Goring's train and hadn't even met his troops yet.

Bastico: We are most pleased by Germany's commitment to the theater. Your 4 divisions are the key to a successful drive to Cairo
Goring: The fuhrer's interest in your theater is only on behalf of Senior Mussolini who he considers a dear friend. Know this, we expect this campaign to be finished by the end of June at the latest Marshal.
Bastico: All assets available will be committed that aren't fighting in Greece.
Goring: We have a score to settle there too but that will be handled on our next conference. I have brought GeneralMajor Black here to assist your staff for the next few months. Your naval attache made it clear that he won't be able to ship all of our forces to Libya for several months. Balck here will command 7th Panzer which will have the longest time to wait. I have instructed him and his troops who will entrain for Naples to work with your forces. The fuhrer demands that all new troops being sent to the Libyan front train for at least 10 days with the men of 7th Panzer while they are available to pass on their expertise.
Bastico: We will gladly except Germany's generosity in such a manner.
Badaglio: The most important matter is assuring safe transit of your armored corps to the front. The British aircraft and submarines have proved quite pesky.
Goring: We will make arrangements to assist the Africa Corps in arriving safely. Please lets take a walk to your airfield I wish to show you gentlemen two weapons that will turn the tide.

The men along with interpreters and staff walked over to the small airstrip next to the headquarters to see Goring's gift.

Goring: Gentlemen allow me to present the fuhrer's great gift to cover the African convoys. This is our BF-110 heavy fighter series E. It has a solid nose with 4 MG-17 machine guns, 2 20mm cannons and under wing racks holding (4) 50kg bombs. Grossadmiral Raeder assures me that despite the small size of these bombs, the fragile nature of a submarine makes them extremely deadly if dropped on them. The armament is also sufficient to strafe British ships and keep their bombers away from our convoys. The Africa corps will be given 48 of these new machines. Half of them will be dedicated for convoy protection flying out of Sicily and Tripoli respectively. We will make the necessary arrangements that every convoy going to Africa will have at least 1 schwarm of these heavy fighters overhead at all times. They will have increased air cover over the trouble areas near the ports and near Malta.

The Italian hosts were impressed by the Luftwaffe commitment. The walked around the aircraft like they were inspecting a new car.
Goring continued:

Goring: The fuhrer in his commitment to victory in Egypt on Senior Mussolini's behalf has allocated our entire Luftflotte 2 to support our operations for the next four months. This will be over 500 aircraft at our disposal along with their associated ground crews. GeneralFeldMarshal Kesselring will command this group here from Rome. They will be dispersed between attacks on British naval units, convoy cover, direct support of the Libyan armies, and suppression of British rear areas.
General of Panzer troops Von Manstein will show you our other weapons system.
Manstein: I would like to show you gentlemen our adaptation of your L-3 tank. We had several in storage that had been lent to us during the conflict in Spain and have made an adaption that should prove excellent in Africa. May I present the L-3 75 Fledermaus is the nickname one of the technicians at the Krupp factory I visited named her. The superstructure as you can see has been modified and a captured French 75mm gun has been inlaid behind the armored screen. This gun has an extremely high muzzle velocity and flat trajectory so it is very accurate as an anti tank gun. I have brought with me 6 of our finest engineers and a trainload of captured guns and ammunition to begin the conversion. The fuhrer has agreed not to bother with any licenses for this weapons system since it is based off your tank. I would like to give a small demonstration

The tank crawled along into a nearby field were Manstein had set up a dummy tank as a target.

Manstein: You may fire when ready Oberfedwebel.

The cannon let off a high crack and the round left an easy to follow smoke trail as it hit the dummy tank and blew the hell out of it.

Manstein: It will have a similar effect on the British tanks that have been giving you so much trouble.
Badaglio: This is a most impressive system. Manstein you have changed the world.
Manstein: Thank you Herr FeldMarshal but I could never do such a thing, I am just a simple soldier, not some world changing King. Do we have any questions

The generals all shook their heads no

Goring: Good work head off to Naples and get things in order Manstein. You have much to do if the fuhrer's vision of victory in 4 months is to be acheived

to be continued....

your thoughts or critiques?





The "bat" the simple yet effective Italian tank destroyer
 
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Nice, the Germans are going to suffer without him in the East but Mnastein will also be hamstrung by supplies so an all round allied advantage.

Unless Herkules goes ahead.
 
Well the title gives away Manstein's nickname that he will earn in this campaign. I am leading towards the Moscow Fox but we will see! Red is correct that his presence would be missed as a corps, army and army group commander in Russia. The supply situation will be ok until Barbarossa. Since Africa is the only serious campaign they are involved in at the moment they can support it fully. The 4th division and commitment of Kesselring's group were considered in OTL... it was given up based on the Italians declining an increased German presence and the fact that they needed to build up forces to fight in Russia. The 4 month deadline is the key. If Manstein cannot pull of most of his campaign objectives by that time Hitler will withdraw support to array against the Soviets

i am trying to game out if he can talk Hitler into taking Malta instead of Crete. In all honesty neither operation is necessary. If the Germans provide careful air cover to the convoys to Africa and Alexandria falls, Malta and Crete would have to be evacuated because they couldn't be supplied
 
Your reputation proceeds you (chapter 4)

Naples Italy January 1941, Just before Manstein departs for Tripoli

Manstein: I have not given you an easy task Hermann these macaronis are almost useless. I watched one of their companies train yesterday and nearly had to vomit from the lack of coordination and arrogance of their officers.
Balck: I will whip them into shape herr General Der PanzerTruppen. 7th Panzer is a great unit. They have high morale and a lot of combat experience, there could be no better unit for them to learn something about war from. Lets go watch them in action.

Balck and Manstein watched the infantry regiment of the 7th Panzer working with several companies of Italian infantry who would soon be headed to Libya as replacements. Interpreters had been liberally sprinkled... but the fact that Balck spoke passable Italian made things immensely easier to work out with Commando Supremo.

They observed one exercise close up. An eager young Italian captain was leading his infantry company to "take" a trench line position from a 7th panzer platoon. They fell in to a cleverly prepared ambush and were captured by the enterprising troops of 7th panzer division. The Italian captain was embarrassed that his command went so poorly after his instruction from the German Hauptman. The German Hauptman strutted up to him and started yelling at his interpreter so fast that he couldn't translate the words fast enough. The message was clear that macaroni (German explative for Italian soldiers) had fucked up and was in big trouble. The German went on a 5 minute tirade and the Italian was worried about being shown up so much in front of his troops.

Balck while not impressed by the Italian maneuvering saw this situation develop and walked away from Manstein towards the action. Manstein thought he was going to play peace maker but he was completely surprised. Balck walked up to his subordinate captain who didn't even stop his tirade to look at his commanding general. Balck despite being half a foot shorter than the imposing captain strutted up to him like Soloman cometh to cleanse the temple. Balck punched the German captain in the face and knocked him flat on his back. He then screamed for him to stand up at attention.

You will apologize to this Captain! We are the guests of the Italians in this theater! Under no circumstances are you to treat them as anything other than equals! This captain wishes to learn from you not be treated like a child. The British are our enemy and don't you forget it. If I see any of this stupidity again I will line you up against a wall and shoot you myself! Do I make myself clear herr Hauptman?

The Captain bleeding intensely from his broken nose agreed

Good run the exercise again and help our friend correct his mistake.

Balck walked back to Manstein taking deep breaths to come down from his anger and flexing his aching hand.

Good lord Hermann your too old to pull a stunt like that. Next time you should just shoot him. Your teaching technique is excellent though.

A simple act will spread around the division and they will behave in the manner I see fit from now on. I swear Rommel must have let his boys have too much line on their leash. Well no matter I shall get them into the condition of my boys from first rifle regiment.

Your reputation proceeds you Hermann I have no doubts you will accomplish all the tasks I have given you.

Over the next several weeks and months 7th panzer did perform miracles. Italians graduating from their school of hard knocks got a good taste of small unit warfare and tactics, armored cooperation and anti tank combat. It was a harsh 10 day course and Balck was hard on all the men but when troops from this program would see British tanks or motorized infantry they wouldn't just run or surrender anymore.

Manstein could count on at least the new Italian troops coming into the theater having good teachers. In fact the British were no where near as challenge as the grizzled veterans of the 7th Ghost Panzer division were in small unit battles. Manstein could now trust at least a portion of his plentiful Italian infantry with important tasks like breaking through static defensive positions or withstanding attacks by motorized troops.

Balck did well in his supervisory role and whipped 7th Panzer into top form. He was itching to get into the fight and sad for all the glory that his troops were missing by not being in the first shipment of German forces to Africa. Manstein was pleased with his work and never even called him once he got to Tripoli.

"If you have a good subordinate, you should give him as much work as he can handle and then leave him alone"


To be continued.....

Your thoughts or critiques?

2 updates in one day because YOU deserve it



Hermann Balck Commander of 7th Panzer and director of joint troop training
 
I doubt Manstein could really drastically change the Italian military, their tanks were woeful, they're tactics were dated and their morale was in continuos flux.
 
I doubt Manstein could really drastically change the Italian military, their tanks were woeful, they're tactics were dated and their morale was in continuos flux.
i totally agree. what he is doing now is just baby steps... the total number of troops put through the hard knocks school will be under 10,000. their crappy manufacturing network will only produce about 200 upgunned l-3 75's

this is a band aid on a broken leg but success begets success. ariete and trieste gave good accounts of themselves in otl in 1941-42 after they had some experience cooperating with the africa corps. Manstein is only trying to build a base of success the Germans as OTL will do all the heavy lifting
 
We must do something about this (chapter 5)

Tripolitania February 1941

Manstein was watching a small unit battle sitting in his armored command vehicle. His first battalion from the 5th light division had arrived in Tripoli a couple of days ago. He paraded them through the city then sent them off to the front were they were currently embroiled in a fight with the King's Dragoon.

That jackass Ribbentrop had provided the men with a pamphlet describing which of Tripoli's many brothel's they should visit. Having to command men who had never served together or couldn't stand the sun was one thing but having to deal with intense VD was something Manstein wanted no part of. He made a mental note that if the opportunity ever arose he would punch the foreign minister in the mouth.

The British troops seemed to be green and his troops were performing well. Through his field glasses Manstein saw a company group from the Brescia division come under attack by a British motorized group. The Italian company was a good one who had been through Balck's armored warfare school a couple weeks before. They held on for ten minutes and then it appeared they ran out of ammunition and had to retire. The British did not pursue. Manstein was speachless he had seen that company have a full war load of ammunition crates with them. He instructed his chief of staff Gause to have the commander of that Italian company brought to him immediately.

Manstein thanked god this macaroni spoke pretty good German

Tell me what happened in your battle herr Major

The British came at us with their armored cars and infantry. We defened as GeneralMajor Balck told us to trying to suppress the infantry and seperate them from the armor. We then ran out rifle and machine gun ammuntion and were forced to retire.

Explain to me how you ran out of ammuntion Major. I saw your company with a full war load of ammo enough for a 3 day pitched battle. You were even carrying back ammunition boxes as you retreated I saw?

We ran out of ammunition for a majority of the men's weapons. Unfortunately my company has 6 types of rifles and 4 types of machine guns so ammuntion distribution especially at night or under fire is almost impossible sir.

Mein Gott and many of your companies are like this?

All except the Bersaglieri and the engineers yes sir

This cannot be allowed to continue. Something must be done about this. Herr Major you will accompany me back on my trip to Berlin tomorrow.

Yes sir

Two days later at Hitler's military HQ

My Fuhrer and Il Duce thank you so much for seeing me. Herr Todt your presence is also greatly appreciated at this meeting.

I have brought with me Major Borroni of the Italian army. I have allready sent in writing the tale of his battle with British.

The lack of small arms coordination in the infantry divisions in Libya is a big problem. Major Borroni lost 19 experienced men because his company couldn't organize their ammunition supplies. I propose we stop trying to pretend we can wage parallel war and form a real coalition. Herr Todt informs me that licenses for German small arms may be granted and he could lend out a few hundred workers and engineers to help tool up Italian factories. After a few months I would hope all of our troops would have 1 type of rifle, 1 type of machine gun, and 1 type of sub machine gun greatly reducing the complication of ammunition supply. This way our men could fight together cohesively

I also witnessed the death of the Italian fighter ace Marcello as he dueled with a Gladiator fighter three days ago. I wish also to request that licenses be granted for German aircraft engines and armored vehicles be given to the Commando Supremo as soon as possible. Our window of victory is at hand if we strengthen our selves. Herr Todt has the men available it would only require your approval my fuhrer.

What you say has great merit. I know this has been discussed before and the money for the licenses was an issue. Senior Mussolini how about we grant you the licenses for the remainder of the war and we come up with a fee after our great victory.

I would be happy to accept any technology that could improve our effeciancy.

Good Herr Todt follow up with this in every way possible like General Manstein said. You can loan out the engineers as long as our friends need them.

to be continued...

your thoughts or critiques

I promise the intense pov writing portion of this is basically done there will be intense ground combat in the coming chapters
 
my sincere apologies it is how i isolate my pov writing again we are going to step away from that shortly... glad you are enjoying it

esl that is awesome background info... ive never studied the italians much but i figured you would like me calling them macaronis
 
I very much appreciate this, excellent story. - However, a German General beating a subordinate would invariably have resulted in removal from service for both. Every form of oral 'torture' was acceptable, beating was not.
 
I agree this was not a typical German attitude in either world war. I only attribute this to Balck personally and figure he could get away with it in Italy were such behavior did happen.

Balck had one of his suborindates in 1944 lined up against a wall and shot for deriliction of duty without even a fake trial. (his artillery commander i don't recall what formation he was commanding at the time maybe 4th panzer army or panzer group Balck or army group G) when he commanded first rifle regiment in 1940 he used to carry around an ash walking stick and ive heard stories of him "motivating" the troops with it.

glad you are enjoying rast... i only seek to come close to the literary genius you pump out everyday... your shift in priorities timeline is the most well thought out and researched piece of writing i have ever seen
 
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Manstein's first great victory (chapter 6)

Tripolitania February 1941

The plan of attack was simple. Manstein had conducted careful recon in his light airplane and his armored cars had been very busy scouting the British. High command had given him explicit instructions not to go over to the offensive until more of his forces were available. 21st Panzer would taken another couple weeks to arrive and be deployed. He did see however that Churchill's folly of sending good troops to Greece had left him an opportunity. The troops in front of him were the raw 2nd Armored brigade and they were not in a truly developed defensive system.

The Italians had given him to of their infantry divisions Brescia and Pavia which would allow Manstein to at least attack on something of a wide front. Kesselring would be the key to this operation though. For the last two weeks his squadrons had been deploying to the most forward airstrips in Axis held Libya and desert proofing their machines.

One Feb. 28th several days ahead of schedule and with total radio silence the aircraft lifted off to strike the British. Manstein and Kesselring had worked together when Manstein commanded 38th corps in France and they could cooperate easily. The British were caught flat footed because of the number of troops sent to Greece and Ultra intercepts showed high command telling Manstein to stay in place until his forces were built up. 100 covering fighters 60 stuka dive bombers and 72 level bombers (he-111 and ju-88 came over the British lines. The fighters brushed aside any defending British machines (the gladiators were easy picking and there were only a few hurricaines in the theater at this point. Once their air superiority and escort mission was done they joined in strafing British positions with cannon and machine guns) The stukas went after British armor and tracked vehicles. The level bombers wandered far behind the lines with the solid fixed noses of machine guns and cannons knocking out British supply trucks and airfields. Manstein told Kesselring this was the most important part of the mission because if the water and fuel trucks could be delayed or destroyed it would make it easier for the Africa Corps to take prisoners.

The Italians opened up a diversionary offensive to pin the British to the front. This actually went better than anticipated with the first 10 l-3 75's spearheading the attack. They knocked out 4 British tanks at a loss of just 1 of their machines and provided critical covering fire to the advancing infantry. Italian morale increased both based on the success of this operation and Manstein's praise of their good performance.

The 5th light division under General Streich surged forward against the middle of the British line at El Aghelia. Initially they were thrown back by concentrated British artillery and tank fire. The enterprising 39th anti tank battalion then crashed through an incomplete minefield and put the British to flight. As the tanks turned to flee forward Panzer III's with observers well forward called in repeated stuka strikes against the retreating British armor further disorganizing the 2nd Armored.

It became a wild chase with the 5th light surging forward across the Cyranacia bulge and the British running away faster than the Germans could chase them. Units became intermixed and confused night fighting tired all the troops. Manstein kept touch with his light plane but found the going rough and the country without water. Only his relentless energy kept the tanks rolling. The luftwaffe was forced to release some of their stocks of fuel and curtail air support missions to keep the tanks on pace. Manstein weaved a battle tapestry once his battalion of 88mm guns arrived. The battle groups from 5th light leapfrogged each other creating roadblocks along the via balbia trapping British troops. General O' Conner the enterprising leader of operation compass was snatched by the German machine gun battalion. Benghazi fell to a mixed German/Italian battle group with 1000 prisoners and a huge store of captured equipment. Two British divisions shut themselves up in Tobruk as Manstein's Africa corps by passed them and surged to the Egyptian frontier leaving a screen of Italian infantry to keep watch on the garrison.

At the end of 4 weeks Manstein could count his offensive as a success. He had recaptured all of Libya except Tobruk and taught the British a lesson. His booty included 90 captured tanks, 300 artillery pieces, 260 anti tank guns, 6,500 infantry and 5 generals. The second armored division was effectively destroyed. Manstein's total losses amounted to less than 500 killed and wounded. 25 tanks lost with half being expendable light models and some loss to his trucks. Air cover to date had been excellent and the RAF was not molesting his troops and in turn unable to protect their own troops from continuous bombing and strafing. Tobruk remained a thorn in his side preventing him from advancing further for fear of having his spearheads cut off and denying him a useful forward port.

Manstein originally thought about taking the city in a coup de main or coup de panzer but a quick air tour of the city showed him the fair size of the garrison and the ships steaming into the harbor pouring in reinforcements and ammunition. He thought better of it and realized he would need to launch a coordinated attack on the town it was just too large to bounce off the march.

The British were stunned by these developments. Newspapers on both sides called Manstein the Genius of the Desert. Churchill poured reinforcements into Egypt as fast as his transports could send them. He needed a new offensive to restore morale. Wavell was commanding the British now that O' Conner was gone and Churchill was determined to prod him into action

to be continued...

your thoughts or critiques?
 
Having someone shot is absolutely different from beating someone. A man of honour may be shot for a mistake he's made - but beating him is simply out of bounds.
One might have a sergeant beat a commoner, but a General beating an Captain, no. Not even Balck could get away with that. - Although he would never have considered to act like that himself.

Thanks for the compliments.
 
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