29 November 2012

The Desert War: Conclusion

I could cover the last two years of the war and what happened to the key commanders - especially Rommel. However, I'm sure that you can find that information easily, so I'll finish up with some brief thoughts on the campaign itself and what we can learn from it.

Was it worth it?

The Allies did not win the war through the defeat of the Afrika Korps - they won it through the ground of invasion of Germany from two directions and via a highly bloody (on both sides) strategic bombing campaign.

Losing this campaign though would have been catastrophic - Middle Eastern oil supplies would have been in great danger and the loss of Egypt might have forced Churchill from office in favour of someone who would make a peace deal... that would have let mainland Europe to either the Nazis or more likely Stalin.

It can be argued that diverting forces to North Africa when they could have been used preparing for an earlier Second Front in Europe was a waste of resources and holding the line might have been enough...

I disagree. The Allies needed a clear strategic victory in 1942 at a point when they were facing defeat nearly everywhere. Forcing the Germans out of North Africa and liberating a number of future African countries did just that.

The Italy campaign on the other hand...

What can we learn from this campaign?

  1. It's not what you have, it's what you do with it - Rommel was an extremely capable general. Most Wehrmacht commanders would not have lasted as long as he did and if Rommel had not gone out of the equation permanently in 1944, the concept of him leading the Battle of the Bulge is a terrifying prospect. 
  2. The capacity of so-called military experts to be completely inept is massive.
  3. Logistics are vital in any war, especially when there is not a ready-made source of water and food nearby.
  4. Sometimes 'the sideshow' can be vital to the main event.
  5. Our veterans have had to fight in unpleasant conditions in wars that seem to have little to do with their home country... but they are usually of importance to the wider world and ultimately us. For this they should receive our gratitude.
Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this interesting.

No comments: