C R U S A D E R C R U S A D E R
OF THE WIHIOU
O ctober 23 is a date that will live lor ever in the memories of Eighth Army men.
great night barrage at Alamein that w as the prelude to Rommel's rout.
T h e flickering news-reel of day-to-
d ay events is apt to leave one bewild
ered rather than informed. So it is a
good thing to sit down sometimes and
retrace the pattern of the war to date
— particularly when one’s fancy is
not hampered by too much “inside in
T o my mind the war falls naturally into
two parts. The first has just ended — the
end of the beginning, as M r Churchill called
it. The second began on Oct. 23 last with
the Battle of Alamein.
T he first part covers the period when
Germany held the initiative and called the
tune to which we danced. It covers many
phases, in each of which Germany had great
successes but consistently failed to obtain
her goal — the destruction of all her oppo
nents, one by one.
P a r i O n e
Part one began with the conquest of Pol
and in the winter of 1939. But in spite of
this success Germany failed in her strategic
object, which was to continue the conquest
of Europe step by step “without a general
war.” Poland was eliminated ; but the plan
was spoiled by the fact that Russia had
taken a part of Poland, and Germany, in
stead of having the expected pause for fresh
preparation, found she still had a war with
England and France on her hands.
Phase two of Part 1 was directed to the
elimination of France and Britain. The ori
ginal intention had been to accomplish this
by other means and at a later date. It was
probably for this reason that Germany was
so careful to abstain from any serious at
tack on France and Britain in the winter of
H an d Forced
Our failure t'o make peace on the fall of
Poland forced Germany to anticipate her
schedule. There followed the invasion of
Norway, Holland and Belgium, culminating
in the invasion and defeat of France. G er
many now had airfields and ports in a half
circle round a weakly armed Britain, who
by all the laws of logic was defeated and
Britain did not surrender. Her objective
once again eluded Germany’s grasp ; and
so began the third phase directed specifically
at our conquest by force of arms. T he plan
was air attack, followed by invasion.
T his plan was frustrated by the Battle
of Britain, which made invasion too hazar
dous for Germany with a powerful Russia
in her rear. Germany therefore turned to
Other means. As a long term policy she
developed the u-boat campaign. Her main
plan continued to be based on her army.
The intention was to gain the Middle East
and the Persian oilfields by a double at
tack through Greece and Libya, o f which
the former was to be the main thrust. Rom
mel’s attack through Libya in the spring of
1941 met with swift success at first, but
was upset by the heroic resistance of T ob
ruk. The attack through Greece succeeded
and led to the capture of Crete. It too, how
ever. failed in its strategic purpose, because
it took too long and cost Germany too many
of her planes and airborne troops to enable
the intended attack through Syria into Iran
and Iraq to take place in time to fit in with
the Iraqi rising.
Germany therefore failed to get the Middle
East and to cut the British Empire in two ;
and she was also forced to postpone her
attack on Russia.
This attack must have been planned be
fore and was probably intended to coincide
with a successful drive into the oilfields of
As we advance the Western Desert is rapidly becoming a great mem
ory and we are entering upon a phase of the war when we of the Desert
Army become part of a single campaign. »
So vast is the landscape of this world war that it is sometimes diffi
cult to see exactly how W E fit In. Here ERIC CASWELL, himself a
‘desert rat,” gives a concise review of the whole war to date and of the
Desert Army’s part therein.
Persia. Instead, it took place too late in the
year and without the expected asset of a
conquered Middle East. In consequence
Germany, despite her great victories, again
failed in her real objective — the capture
of Leningrad and Moscow and the destruc
tion of the Russian Army. Instead, she was
caught in the Russian winter and the Rus
sian counter-attack, and suffered great los
ses. None the less she gained both great
victories and great material assets and had
inflicted serious losses on Russia.
During the winter there followed bitter
but indecisive fighting in Libya. Japan at
tacked Pearl Harbour, overran the Pacific
— and brought America into the W ar.
T he fourth phase of Part 1 began with
the second Ger
man attack on
Russia last sum
mer. This attack
differed from the
first in that it
was not merely
part of a great
strategic plan —
it was also dic
tated by stern
war had gone on
too long. Britain
was not only un
beaten but was
gro win g in
strength — and ¦ .
now had the Red Army cavalry m a n rn
vast potential ready ior
power of America rapidly growing be
hind her. The war began to look as
if it might be still a long affair. The old
“war on two fronts" bogey loomed near.
Germany could not afford to have a strong
Russia fighting on her Eastern front — and
she urgently needed the wheat and the oil
which she had failed to get the previous
The 1942 attack on Russia was intended
to remedy this by crippling the Red Army
and gaining wheat and oil. The attack
again met with great successes.— Rostov,
Sebastopol, and most of the Northern Cau
casus were overrun and Stalingrad reached.
But the Russian Army was not crippled.
By going for all three objectives Germany
had dissipated her strength and laid herself
open to the present Russian counter-attack,
which has already destroyed 113 Axis divi
sions and is now in process of clearing the
Germans out of the Caucasus and the Uk
The net result, therefore, of the 1942
Russian c a m
paign is that
Germany, by go
ing for every
thing, got noth
Now this Rus
sian attack fits
in with Eighth
through at Ala
mein and the
landings in North
Africa to mark
the beginning of
Part 2 of this
war. The part
i n which t h e
Germans no lon-
g e r call t h e
tune, but are for the first time them
selves on the defensive, desperately trying
to parry the blows of the United Nations,
and anxiously wondering where the next
blow will fall.
Part 2 is still in its infancy. It was born
on the 23 Oct. 1942. It has, however, devel
ambush with autom atic rifle
Another turning point. Britain's Royal Navy had a m ajor role in the North African land
ing. Picture shows landing craft leaving a transport off Algiers.
oped sufficiently in this short time to enable
us. to consider the future.
1 think that the most balanced picture
can be obtained by trying to look at the
situation from the German point of view.
W hat is her position after three and a-
half years of hard fighting, in a war for
which she had prepared for years and
launched like a thunderbolt against unpre
pared nations whom she believed unready,
and despised as weak and cowardly. ?
Definitely worse than ever before. Her
victories have taken a terrific toll of her
manpower and her material, white many of
her conquests are sources of anxiety rather
than strength. A great nation inevitably falls
from within. And Germany has now within
her territories all the potential seeds of des
truction — the hatred of conquered peoples,
the slow disillusionment of her own. Re
verses in Russia, in Africa, R .A .F. raids on
her cities and her centres of production, all
held their warning. And as her losses mount
and creep above her power of replacement
she sees the rising strength of the United
The declaration of Casablanca that Brit
ain and America will accept only the un
conditional surrender of the Axis was our
On© more to the score of a Spitfire pilot,
while the Battle of Britain raged in 1940.
Diagram matic m ap shows the climax of Germany's master plan for subjugating Britain by
air attack. How bombers roared over southern England in "the amazing summer" of 1940.
Just one more German bomber that met
its end at the hands of the 'first of the few.'
reply to their hopes of a negotiated peace.
T he new German plan is, therefore, two
fold : propaganda to split the Allied front ;
and intensification of the u-boat campaign
in a desperate attempt to beat us 'on the
post’ by concentrating on our Achilles heel,
our wide-stretched sea lanes.
P r o p a g a n d a T rick s
The propaganda drive is in full swing.
Gobbels is using every trick to set Russians
against British, British against Americans
and Americans against Russians. No false
hood is too ridiculous, no incident too tri
vial if it provides a peg on which to hang
a story which can disrupt our unity.
At the same time the u-boat war is in
tensified to bring us to our knees by cutt
ing Britain and the scattered Allied armies
from their sea-borne supplies.
Now in this picture Tunisia fills a vital
W ith an Army on each side of their two
land fronts, dependent on a sea which they
do not control for all their supplies, and hit
from three sides-—Algeria, Tripoli, M alta—-
from the air, the German’s position is nasty.
And yet they go on reinforcing, sending
more hostages to fortune in the shape of
men, tanks and equipment, and giving air
support at a time when all are badly want
ed in Russia — and with the knowledge that
to increase her stake here is probably to
increase her final loss.
T h e R e ason
W h y is Germany doing this ?
One reason, undoubtedly, is to protect
South Europe from invasion and to give
her time to prepare. No invasion is likely
while Germany holds Tunisia.
In my opinion, however, the over-riding
reason is that the retention of Tunisia is an
essential part in the u-boat campaign and
the one element which makes it promise
So long as Tunisia is held the Mediterra-
inean is virtually barred to our convoys.
The sea route to the Middle East, India and
Australia is so many thousand miles the
longer, and the usefulness of our ships pro
portionately the less. Furthermore, the dif
ficulties of protection and the chances of
successful u-boat attack are the greater.
Therefore I believe that Germany will
fight to the last man and the last minute
to hold Tunisia. For Tunisia is the key to
the whole of her u-boat campaign, which
she regards as her one chance of victory.
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