The Crusader Project Profile picture
Official Twitter channel of The Crusader Project, a much-delayed book project on Operation Crusader. I will cross-post new blog entries here automatically.
19 Nov 20
I have looked further into the matter of whether the German troops in Libya participated in rounding up Jewish citizens, given that some people continue to claim there is evidence. 1/ @militaryhistori @ITM_archives @BloodPhilip @JeffCRutherford @DrPaulFroehlich @robert_lyman
TLDR: There is no evidence for any organised participation. There is evidence that, particularly during the retreat from Alamein German soldiers mistreated civilians, which may have included Jewish civilians, although many of them would have been in the Giado camp by then. 2/
There is no evidence for any orders to Rommel in early 1941 to round up Jewish citizens in Libya. This doesn't mean there wasn't an order, but if there was, we have not found it. I consider the likelihood that it existed very low, considering Libya was Italy to all intents. 3/
Read 12 tweets
18 Nov 20
#OTD in 1941 7 Armoured Brigade crossed the wire on the Libyan/Egyptian border, the first combat formation to cross. It lasted less than a week in battle. @KarlJames_1945 @robert_lyman @militaryhistori @BloodPhilip @CedricMas @bermicourt…
The Brigade penetrated farthest into enemy territory and met its fate at Sidi Rezegh, where it was annihilated between 20 and 23 November. It's three regiments were 2 & 6 @RoyalTankRegt and 7 @ChurchillsOwn Hussars. By the end of November, only 2 R.T.R. operated as a squadron.
6 R.T.R. were the first to go, crossing the ridge north of Sidi Rezegh on 21 Nov into an AT gun front. The regiment was torn apart with heavy losses, its CO killed. There are claims that Rommel personally directed the AT guns but I have no evidence of this…
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17 Nov 20
I only leave you to note that the commander of one of the MTBs sinking SMS Szent Istvan was a certain Luigi Rizzo, in charge of MAS (MTB) 15. @SeaSpitfires @NickHewitt4…
Rizzo not only sank Szent Istvan, no he had already sunk pre-dreadnought SMS Wien in harbour. Yes, the FWW in the Adriatic was lit. He later volunteered for the Abyssinian war and served in #WW2.
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov 20
By February 1942 Tp Circe, equipped thus, had accounted for HM/Subs Tempest and P.38. @rjhammond215 @uboatnet @ITM_archives @ajcboyd…
While there were survivors from Tempest, P.38 went down with all hands in a very aggressive attack by Circe.…
Read 6 tweets
17 Nov 20
#OTD in 1941 Eighth Army crossed the 'Wire' that marked the border between Egypt and Libya. It was the largest tank force the British Empire had ever assembled. 1/ @CedricMas @KarlJames_1945 @bermicourt @RoyalTankRegt @BritishArmy @robert_lyman…
But rather than smashing the Axis, over whom it had more than 2:1 tank superiority, tanks were dissipated and lost in many smaller and larger engagements over the next week. 2/ @Hutch_and_Sons @davne @DrBenWheatley @GeorgeMCR01 @militaryhistori @MrMirth…
Brigades turned into regiments, regiments into squadrons. The brutal nature of attrition warfare asserted itself. 12 days later, only 84, or 20% of the tanks present on 17 Nov in 30 Corps remained operational - a nadir had been reached 3/ @ITM_archives…
Read 13 tweets
17 Nov 20
On 16 November 1941, two armed merchant cruisers arrived in Benghazi, carrying supplies and the men (but not the guns) of Afrika-Artillerie Rgt 361. These men would not see action during CRUSADER. @KarlJames_1945 @CedricMas @NavalHistWar @navalhistorian…
It is sometimes claimed that following the destruction of the Duisburg convoy, no supplies reached North Africa from Italy until 21 December when German steamer Ankara docked in Benghazi. As they say in 'Good Omens', this is not correct. @AC_NavalHistory @ITM_archives @ajcboyd
The @RoyalNavy and @RoyalAirForce interdiction campaign was good, but not perfect. The effort undertaken was probably the maximum effort that could be undertaken with the resources available to the Mediterranean theatre. The losses suffered were heavy.…
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16 Nov 20
#OTD in 1941 the #Tobruk garrison received 16 25-pdr guns to replace obsolete/captured guns and to reinforce its artillery prior to the breakout operation. Thanks to @lukas_visek for the additional information and pictures. @KarlJames_1945 @Hutch_and_Sons…
Overall however, Empire artillery in CRUSADER was no match in firepower for Axis artillery, with a particular weakness in medium artillery. This was further exacerbated by a failure to concentrate guns. @robert_lyman @bermicourt @davne @pwsbaines…
Empire commanders preferred to penny-packet available guns out for roving 'Jock' columns. This was a disastrous habit, which replaced effectiveness on the battlefield with the feel-good factor of playing cowboys and indians.…
Read 5 tweets
13 Oct 20
#OTD in 1941 Air Marshal Tedder issued an appreciation to Portal in London in which he set out his high-level views on constraints in relation to Operation CRUSADER. 1/ @FPComd @AirPowerHistory @tac_air_power @mike_bechthold @AlexFitzBlack @CedricMas @robert_lyman @AeroGremlin
A key concern was the expectation that the Empire air force would be numerically inferior, an expectation that was not borne out in the end. Neither the Luftwaffe nor the Regia Aeronautica reached the numbers of planes he feared 2/ @ITM_archives @NavalAirHistory @Balloons2Drones
What is interesting however is that there were real constraints on the soft aspects of air power, crews and mobility. A lack of trained pilots is probably surprising, as is a lack of vehicles to make squadrons mobile. 3/ @Airminded @aerohistorian @Luke_Truxal @smooreBofB1940
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11 Oct 20
#OTD in 1941 the #Luftwaffe in North Africa reported 123 out of 200 planes serviceable, amongst which the first Bf109F-4. 56 Stukas and 30 Bf109 (E and F) were serviceable. #airwar @mike_bechthold @AlexFitzBlack @benkite1 @Balloons2Drones @KarlJames_1945…
The serviceability rate was low, as was the rate of available crews. Most of the planes on strength were Stukas (70) Bf109 (59) and Ju 88 (31).
Thanks to ULTRA @bletchleypark London had a much better picture of German air than tank strength. What they did not know was how quickly North Africa could be reinforced. @spy_historian @interwarintell @spyhistory @mi_intel
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11 Oct 20
#OTD in #1941 No.107 Sqdrn @RoyalAirForce suffered another heavy loss when two of six #Blenheims were shot down attacking a coastal convoy off Libya. @mike_bechthold @NavalHistWar @benkite1 @FPComd @AlexFitzBlack @Balloons2Drones @tac_air_power @Airminded…
The strike was considered easy, against a lightly defended target, so the loss came as a bad surprise, shortly after losing two planes off Sicily. All crew members were killed. They were F/O Greenhill, Sgt. Smith, Sgt. Whidden & Sgt. Routh, Sgt. Parker, Sgt. McLeod @RCAF_ARC
F/O Greenhill, Sgts. Smith and McLeod are remembered on the Malta memorial, while Sgts. Routh and Parker are remembered on the Alamein memorial.
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10 Oct 20
Well Peoples, the votes are in and they don't lie. The PIAT GIF wins by a wide margin, showing us that the PIAT is the best British weapon. A distant second is the Valentine.
While everyone agrees that the Blenheim was just a bit sh&t.
Read 4 tweets
10 Oct 20
#OTD in 1941 General Bortolo Zambon handed over command of the Brescia infantry division, Italian XXI Army Corps, on the siege lines of Tobruk. He had been a veteran of the first drive across the desert in Apr 41 @ITM_archives @KarlJames_1945 @robert_lyman…
While all the sources I can see agree on him leaving command on this date, he seems to have hung around, maybe as alternate to General Gioda, since he was subsequently decorated with the Silver Medal for Military valor for Operation CRUSADER performance.
After his return to Italy he entered the reserve. On the armistice he remained loyal to the king and the legitimate government, even though he was in the north. He joined the #resistance #partigiani in a leading function in Milano. In May 1944 he was betrayed and arrested.
Read 6 tweets
10 Oct 20
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the WW2 edition. A book screaming to be written.
Once upon a time there was a general, and he was a nice man who doted on his children, and he took his regiment into the forest north of Pripyet and fought a big battle with the nasty partisans. And after a day and a night and another day he emerged victoriously.
He was a good general so he did not lose a single soldier, but they killed 2,000 partisans or more, all of them armed to the teeth and vicious, men, women, children, babies and the elderly. Because those partisans don’t know what’s good for them and never give up.
Read 5 tweets