Tobruk

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Kelvin
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Re: Tobruk

Post by Kelvin » 14 Jun 2011 22:00

Jon G. wrote:If that was the real value of Tobruk, what can we then say about all the Axis ships which arrived there in the months following Rommel's capture of the port?

The immense amount of stores captured amounted to, AFAIK (from the Australian OH) c. 1,500 trucks and c. 2,000 tons of fuel - convenient, particularly considering the length of the PAA's line of supply at the time, but hardly changing the outcome of anything.
German actually captured 500,000 gallon of fuel, 3,000,000 food rations, 2,000 motor vehicles and 30 tanks.

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Urmel
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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 15 Jun 2011 06:07

500,000 gallons is about 2,000 short tons. That's considerably less than one tanker load coming in.

2,000 motor vehicles sounds about right for 1,500 trucks amongst them. Certainly helpful, but not earth-shattering.

The 30 tanks are really neither here nor there.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 15 Jun 2011 09:24

Further to that, 3,000,000 rations would be less than one month's worth for Panzerarmee Afrika in June 42.

The supplies were very much sufficient for the Tobruk garrison, which was supposed to be static, and had less than a third of the mouths to feed, but it was a different story for the much larger Panzerarmee. It's important to keep this in perspective - but then again, it appears Rommel did not do that either.

Note the number of vehicles in North Africa in November 41, which helps to put the number of captured trucks/vehicles in context:

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... -nov-1941/
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Jon G. » 15 Jun 2011 09:53

Well, whether they would be of any use for a month would depend on just what kind of rations they were. Bully beef, tinned jam and so on, maybe biltong (they did take the town from South Africans, after all) would be portable and useful, but the just-add-water kind of food such as, eg. rice/barley/other grain for making porridge etc. would have been rather less useful.

As for the link to your blog, I'd guess (and it is only a guess) that consevatory packing probably takes up a good deal of the weight accounted for under the 'food' header. Also, no food category is listed under Luftwaffe supplies, so unless the North African Luftwaffe drank fuel and ate ammo and engines, they would have to dip into army food stocks. I haven't bothered doing the maths, but it would reduce the overall percentage of supplies devoted to food which you seem to be wondering about.

More than the exact number of trucks, tonnage of fuel and so on captured by Rommel, the location of his loot so close to Egypt and the front made it all the more useful to him - but you'd still have to be insane or Andalusian to think that 1.5K trucks and 2K tons of fuel would, or could, make the difference between victory and defeat in Egypt.

The fact that the Axis made quite intensive use of Tobruk's limited capacity as a port, and also that they re-opened the railroad into Egypt, shows us the real usefulness of Tobruk as an advanced supply head much closer to Egypt and the Suez than Benghazi and Tripoli.

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 15 Jun 2011 10:07

The point about location is a good one. The German supply services estimated that 1l fuel delivered in Bardia was worth 6l fuel delivered in Benghazi. Which in effect makes the 2,000 tons worth 12,000 tons.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 13 Sep 2011 10:51

Here's a bit more on the role of Suda, and Patras.

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... vember-41/
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Jon G. » 14 Sep 2011 07:16

Excellent write-up! All things considered a massive investment in effort and warships - a battleship and a cruiser division to escort a single merchantman! - in order to secure at least a trickle of supplies for Otto Hamster.

The somewhat pompous and overly courteous tone used in the exchange between Weichold and Riccardi suggests to me that the two men did not like one another, but maybe that's just me; Weichold's letter almost reads like a payment due notice.

Is it by any chance specified somewhere in your collection of data how much of the fuel supplied was supposed to be avgas? Just curious :)

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Urmel
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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 14 Sep 2011 10:02

I think it was almost all of it B4, i.e. avgas.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Urmel
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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 14 Sep 2011 16:01

In fact, the delivery methods were quite varied, and indicate the desperation of the Axis:

Convoys and solo trips of motorised sailing vessels
Light cruisers
Destroyers and torpedo boats, some of which adopted the practice of jettisoning the cargo outside the harbour, for it to be collected by sailing vessels (which drew furious protests by the Germans) a trip to deliver 70 tons of fuel would consume 200 tons of bunker fuel
Submarines of various sizes
Deck cargo on freighters and auxiliary warships
Regular tankers
Junkers 52, Junkers 90, BV 222, He 111

The only thing they didn't try was to combine personnel and fuel delivery by having soldiers paddle across the Med on a barrel.Submarines of various sizes
Deck cargo on freighters and auxiliary warships
Regular tankers
Junkers 52, Junkers 90, BV 222, He 111

The only thing they didn't try was to combine personnel and fuel delivery by having soldiers paddle across the Med on a barrel.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Kingfish » 15 Sep 2011 21:04

JBond wrote:The only thing they didn't try was to combine personnel and fuel delivery by having soldiers paddle across the Med on a barrel.
They did, it's just that the soldiers are still paddling.

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Jon G. » 16 Sep 2011 07:05

Kingfish wrote:
JBond wrote:The only thing they didn't try was to combine personnel and fuel delivery by having soldiers paddle across the Med on a barrel.
They did, it's just that the soldiers are still paddling.
I'm sure that delivery system was tried out in Tunisia. The '1,000 cigarettes for whomever brings me a jerry can of fuel' method was saved for later still.

That aside, it is not so much the desperation apparent which strikes me - rather, it's the fact that it was a joint effort (German planes and Italian warships, broadly speaking) which I find striking, as expressed by the exchange between Weichold and Riccardi.

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 16 Sep 2011 12:46

It was a joint effort before, they figured out an agreement sometime in September I believe (would need to go back into my files), with allocation of space on German and Italian merchants being mixed, etc.pp. When personnel transport by sea was pretty much cancelled for a period after the sinking of the large liners in September (they started again with Vittoria on 22 January, only to have that one go to the bottom with almost a battalion worth of troops), air transport was found to be the most efficient and safe way to get soldiers across (merchants too vulnerable, destroyers too much fuel per run for the number of soldiers on them), and that was German and Italian planes. But then in November they used auxiliary warships (Citta class, Adriatico) for personnel transports as well. Destroyers took POWs and wounded on the way back, and were quite crammed in some cases.

It's a fascinating subject.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 04 Oct 2011 15:17

Here's a nice bit of info from ULTRA for December 1941:
Luftgaustab Afrika Ia informed QM X Fliegerkorps that the auxiliary sailing vessel VELOS had sailed on the evening of 3/12.

Note: The VELOS had brought 100 tons of B4 to DERNA.
100 tons would have been just under the requirement for a day of Ritterkreuz earning by the Gentlemen of the Luftwaffe.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Jon G. » 04 Oct 2011 16:58

Did the Velos set sail from Tobruk? Sailing all the way across the Mediterranean in a (I presume) wooden ship dependent on the weather and no easy way of maneouvering would have been reckless at the time.

Could B4 fuel - I've seen it referred to as 'Beer Four' in Ultra decrypts - be used as tank fuel at a pinch? Was it?

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Re: Tobruk

Post by Urmel » 04 Oct 2011 19:27

Tobruk? Not sure, unless the British were in the business of supplying Jerry with fuel? ;)

Crete is my guess. :)

B4 was the 87 octane. No idea if tanks ran on that, I am afraid. But delivery to Derna is a good indicator for use as Luftwaffe fuel at that point in time.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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