November 4, 2010
Africa= mostly French areas. North Africa important b/c of oil moving from the
Middle East up to Great Britain. The country that controls surez controls the oil
from the Middle East.
Western part have Gerbraltar, which controls access to the
Mediterranean. One major coastal road. Hard to move large number of troops in
14 hundred miles to Surez, can’t go off road either.
extreme heat and swarms of flies. Can’t keep the flies off of you.
Lots of sand and
dust that mucks up engines. Not a good place to fight a war.
Why fight here? Not
the oil (although important) but for Germans to get control of Surez, had to
imagine how they could do it. How do you supply the troops? For the Germans, N.
Africa is a logistical nightmare. They would need far more than 2 divisions to take
over the Surez. Why are the Germans down there? What about Italy? Mussolini, he
is in this war and lined up armed to arm with Germany (pact of steele) and
want something out of the war= wants the revival of the Roman Empire. He wants
a little bit of N. Africa and the French lands (Egypt, Algeria, Libya…) He is going
to send the Italian army.
In the 1940s, Italy sends forces down into N. Africa and
they attacked through to Egypt. It’s a good start. It’s an idea. Unfortunately, the
reality is that he has really bad troops, terrible equipment (bad tanks). Have 200
thousand Italians that want to go back to Rome and get out of Africa. It’s a fiasco,
and so bad that Hitler decides to strengthen remaining Italian forces and sends a
couple divisions of Germans. Sends
General Erwin Rommel
. Attacks the British,
force them back. Rommel initially is the best person down there, and as he pushes
the British back, he moves away from his supply lines. The further east he moves,
the harder it is to get supplies. They need gas for tanks. What we have here are sea-
saw offenses. Germans attack, run out of gas, British counter attack, and the
Germans get gas, and back and forth.
1942: British also get a very good commander,
always focuses on
achievable goals, also insufferably conceited.
For his soldiers, they love him. At
his level or above him, it is a nightmare.
America gets into the war and faces important, political questions.