Cover image for Operation Compass 1940 : Wavell's whirlwind offensive
Title:
Operation Compass 1940 : Wavell's whirlwind offensive
Author:
Latimer, Jon.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
96 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 26 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: Oxford : Osprey, 2000.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780275982867
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The first battle of the desert war, Operation Compass was originally envisaged as a spoiling attack, combined with a reconnaissance in force to disrupt the Italian forces that had advanced into Egypt in September 1940. Lt Gen. Richard O'Connor launched what amounted to a British blitzkrieg. Instead the British forces swept 500 miles along the coast of North Africa. The 7th Armored Division raced across the desert to cut off the retreating Italians, and O'Connor's men destroyed 9 Italian divisions, and took 130,000 prisoners--forcing the Germans to intervene with the Afrikakorps, led by the legendary General Rommel.

The first battle of the desert war, Operation Compass was originally envisaged as a spoiling attack, combined with a reconnaissance in force to disrupt the Italian forces that had advanced into Egypt in September 1940. Lt Gen. Richard O'Connor launched what amounted to a British blitzkrieg. Instead the British forces swept 500 miles along the coast of North Africa. 7th Armored Division raced across the desert to cut off the retreating Italians, and O'Connor's men destroyed 9 Italian divisions, and took 130,000 prisoners--forcing the Germans to intervene with the Afrikakorps, led by the legendary General Rommel.

This is an operation that tends to be overlooked in favor of later campaigns involving Rommel and the Deutsches Afrikakorps. It was a humiliating defeat for the Italians, but success for the Allies was to turn sour when their success led directly to German intervention led by General Rommel and the Afrikakorps. The campaign as a whole highlighted the strengths of the British modern, forward- looking military machine as opposed to the Italian military which was rooted in the past. Despite the stereotype of lacking courage, Operation Compass showed that the Italians on an individual basis were not cowards and they consistently proved their strength of fighting spirit.


Author Notes

Jon Latimer served for sixteen years as an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as Platoon Commander, Assault Troop Leader and Battalion Intelligence Officer. He has published widely in military journals.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Table of Contents

Origins of the Campaignp. 7
Opposing Commandersp. 14
Italian Commanders
British Commanders
Opposing Forcesp. 17
Italian Forces
British and Commonwealth Forces
Opposing Plansp. 27
The Campaignp. 32
The Five Day Raid
Bardia
Tobruk
Derna
Beda Fomm
Aftermathp. 86
Chronologyp. 89
Bibliographyp. 90
Wargaming the Campaignp. 93