The War Illustrated No 132 Vol 6 July 10th 1942

A rth ty rlt' Poltava Wupiansk ^tarobielsk iremenchug I / ^Artemow<4 Dnepropetrovsk Y )ll^ v T v^s talirw \ l y Jr\ Jrtfoporozhe (.'ROSTOV Mariupol’ i 'Melitopol -A zo v^Ac K i fhjnko'CX /\—r yen e>[ ''eadosia' 'Sim feropol O f _ -Jr Krasnodi ¦Nov o rosS‘is ->L Appro a imatc Front. June //?*and Rommel, cxccpt al Bir H achcim ,and Tat obruk, owed little to his Stukas. The air attacks made on our communications with Egypt did little damage, and may have had a reconnaissance purpose, to test defences, if an attempt to establish a block with air­borne troops, reported to be assembled in Crete, is contemplated. be spared for the purpose, or aircraft to prevent the use o f the port by the Black Sea Fleet? It seems more probable that the Germans require the port themselves in order to ease the supply problems o f a major inoffensive the south especially that part o fit which might operate from Kerch. Railway communications running east and west in South Russia are few and follow circuitous routes. Those served by the porto f Sebastopol would gain immensely in value by its capture and are perhaps essential to the maintenance o f a major offensive. Von B ock’s renewal o f the attack on the Kharkov front was also evidently a pre­liminary operation. It met with little success and was immensely costly. If and when a major offensive docs come the preliminary operations may have robbed ito f much o fits sting and if it has to be postponed till preliminary operations reach a successful conclusion, the time lost will be hard to recover. Already we have reached the anniversary o f the opening o f last year’s campaign in which lack o f time was so much in eyidence. Moscow radio has commented on the failure o f tanks against the new power o f anti-tank weapons, and draws the conclusion that deep penetration by Panzer thrusts are unlikely to be attempted in future. That, o f course, would mean slower operations than those o f last year. FAR EAST The situation in the A leutian Islands is ob­scure, and it remains to be seen whether Japan will retain her footing in the islands. If she does it is unlikely to prove o f much value to her unless she becomes engaged in a war with Russia. Possibly the enterprise had that possibility in view, but under existing con­ditions it involves the maintenance o f still another line o f sea communication, and it has meant immediate and heavy naval losses. Reduction in number o f her aircraft- carriers must practically prohibit any further amphibious adventure which cannot be closely supported by shore-based aircraft. That, o f course, reduces the danger o f in­vasion o f Australia and India. SOVIET TANKS coming into inaction the Kharkov sector. Above, Red Army gunners with an anti-tank gun on a tractor on the look­out for Nazi movements. Photos, U.S .S .Ii. Official Page 35 KHARKOV FRONT, where throughout June the Red Army under Marshal Timoshenko attacked, and was attacked by, von Bock’s Nazis. B y courtesy of The Times o f new anti-tank weapons to repel arm oured attack. Possibly Rom m el’s residual strength and power to launch an attack before the defences were fully organized were underestimated. The conditions in this respect were less favourable than when Wavell made his decision, for Rommel was stronger and his communications shorter. Against this, itchieR had at Halfaya a stronger force than Wavell possessed, and it might shortly recover its offensive poten­tialities. Failing such recovery, a prolonged occupation ofT o bruk would have imposed a heavy strain on the Navy for the enemy air force in Crete exposed sea communica­tions. to constant air attack, and the port itself would be under persistent attack from near-by airfields. GEN. VON M ANNSTEIN (left) with one of his divisional commanders discussing plans for an all-out attack on Sebastopol. Photo, Keystone advisability o f holding boT ru k has conse­quently been questioned in some quarters. But wars cannot be fought on a literal inter­pretation o f theoretical doctrines, and every situation requires analysis. In the first instance, it is still uncertain whether R itchie’s decision was imposed on him by the difficulty o f withdrawing his whole force to the frontier, or whether it was deliberately taken. Assuming the latter, there were arguments in favour o f the decision. It would prevent large accumula­tions o f stores falling into ien em y ’s hands and deny im the use o f the best port in Cyrcnaica, and if Rommel intended to attack the Halfaya position he would have to leave a strong investing force Tat obruk to safeguard his communica­tions. He would, therefore, be more vulnerable to counter-attack. On the other hand, there was the risk that he might concentrate his whole force to attack the isolated position Tat obruk. But the defensive possibilities o f the place had been proved, and it may have been thought that they had been increased by the power IN THEJCRIMEA von Mannstein made desperate efforts to take Sebastopol. German and Rumanian divisions were sacrificed altogether regardless of loss. B y courtesy of The Daily Hail Perhaps the worst feature o fRomm el's success is that it adds to the difficulty o f then av al'situ atio inn the Mediterranean. His own sea communications have become more secure and ours less so. Possibly the appear­ance o f the really long-range Liberator bomb­ers in the Middle East, which must be most unwelcome to Italy, will partly compensate for the loss o four advanced airfields in Libya. They may also have a marked effect on the situation in Russia. RUSSIA During the period under review, the situation was as tense at Sebastopol as in Libya. All through the fort­night desperate German attacks succeeded each other with hardly an in­terval, but the garrison, though hard pressed, fought magnificently and made frequent counter-attack s.Owing to the nature o f the ground the Germans ad­mitted that inmost sectors tanks could not operate, and tHat they had to'rely on infantry, supported by in­tense bombing attacks and artillery bombardment. What that meant in casualties when attacks were repulsed we learnt in the last war and one must con­clude that the Germans con­sidered the capture o f the fortress to be o f vital im­portance. Why would not investment o f the place have sufficed ?Is it because troops could not for long The question is certain to be asked, how did it happen that armour oured divisions fell into the trap, which so materially altered the whole situation ?Normally it might be expected that it would have been discovered by advanced patrols or cooperating air­craft but it would be grossly unjust to 'assume neglect o f precautions. Probably dust •had something to do with it, necessitating close indispositions order to maintain contact and if aircraft were working with the colum nit is easy to miss well-posted troops using the concealment immobility gives. Very low flying would not help, for if visibility is too low to give a view o fan object as it is approached the difficulty o f distinguishing it in the flash o f passing over is very great. Consider how little can be seen o f near-by objects from a railway carriage, and multiply the speed o f the train by four. All the strategical textbooks warn retreating armies not to take refuge in fortresses, but to retain their mobility at all costs. The
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