Midsummer Nights Dream

Discussions on WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean. Hosted by Andy H
Mike_52
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 22 Feb 2005 21:20
Location: USA

Midsummer Nights Dream

Post by Mike_52 » 26 Feb 2005 08:08

Out of about twelve books I have on the African campaign either by the British or German side, there is not much mention of this operation. And not much detail.

The 21st Panzer is dispatched on a raid towards the frontier to locate supply dumps, or engage the enemy on 14th september 1941.

South African bombers catch the tanks refueling and destroy approximately 50 and by the 20th of september 21st Panzer was down from 110 tanks on september 11th to 43 on september 20th. They were not brought up to full strength until november before Crusader.

If it was possible to destroy that many tanks by bombing, why did the allies not do these bombing missions more often in Africa before the their major air superiority leading up to El Alamein? How did the bombers get past JG-27 during that period?

Regards, Mike

User avatar
David W
Member
Posts: 3485
Joined: 28 Mar 2004 01:30
Location: Devon, England

Post by David W » 06 Mar 2005 01:48

Mike.

I guess that re-fuelling they represented a stationary target, where as normally they would be moving.
Also they would most probably have been densely congregated, where as normally they would have been widely dispersed.
Then there's all that petrol in those lorries nearby!
Possibly they were without FlaK protection, being deep in enemy territory.
They were obviosly not able to have air cover/support 24/7 & were caught with their "trousers down" so to speak.
I think the cumulative effect of all the above, probably accounts for the unusual success enjoyed by the R.S.A.A.F on this occasion. Let's face it, a bomber squadron or wing; goes out on 6 successive missions, and fails to locate or damage it's intended victims. It doesn't get noted down for posterity. This action may have been unique.

Cheers Dave :D

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 10 Mar 2005 11:33

This operation maybe tends to go forgotten because it is squeezed right in between Battleaxe and Crusader. It's universally condemned as an unnecessary and ponderous reconnaissance raid by writers across the board. Kriebel IIRC is very scathing in his criticism, but so are Macksey and Mellenthin, who are both overall kinder to Rommel.

I think tank losses may have been greater than they normally were in air raids because the Germans didn't get salvage and had to retreat well into Cyrenaica. Probably, the 50 tanks lost you mention is a disputed number, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that some tanks were lost because they ran out of fuel and their bowsers had been destroyed.

Also, DAK-Luftwaffe cooperation was not as close as it could have been until late 1941 when Kesselring took over. Until he came around in November, the Luftwaffe was often assigned targets far away from German (but not necessarily Italian) units due to the always present risk of friendly fire, amplified by the fact that the Axis side in particular used many captured vehicles.

Overall, this operation seems to have been staged and launched more or less at a whim, without giving proper alert to such Luftwaffe formations as were available. They had their hands full over both Bardia and Tobruk at this time, as well as being busy establishing forward airfields near these two towns.

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 10 Mar 2005 12:57

What was going on at Bardia at this time?

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 10 Mar 2005 13:24

Bardia was the hinge of the Halfaya position. It was sometimes shelled by the Royal Navy and frequently bombed by the RAF. The supply position was precarious; until October water had to be fetched as far away as Gambut. Getting to Bardia must have been difficult until the completion of the Axis Road.

Now, I don't think the Luftwaffe's transport squadrons were employed for anything as extravagant as flying in water to Bardia, but their fighters had more than enough to shoot at over the front there. That must have precluded some air support for Operation Midsummer Night's Dream.

Mike_52
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 22 Feb 2005 21:20
Location: USA

Midsummer Nights Dream

Post by Mike_52 » 11 Mar 2005 07:44

Thanks to all for the reply's, you added alot of information to give a better feel for what was going on at the time.

It was interesting in "With Rommel In The Desert" Schmidt seems to mention an operation to the east, but not by name, and he didn't mention the tank attack by air if I remember correctly.

I just thought it odd that the British have not made more of this action, as at the time it would have been a major victory if they had engaged the AK with their tanks, and destroyed anywhere near that many in battle.

Regards, Mike

User avatar
David W
Member
Posts: 3485
Joined: 28 Mar 2004 01:30
Location: Devon, England

Post by David W » 11 Mar 2005 22:13

Good point about the salvage, Shrek.

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 12 Mar 2005 03:04

Shrek wrote:Bardia was the hinge of the Halfaya position. It was sometimes shelled by the Royal Navy and frequently bombed by the RAF. The supply position was precarious; until October water had to be fetched as far away as Gambut. Getting to Bardia must have been difficult until the completion of the Axis Road.

Now, I don't think the Luftwaffe's transport squadrons were employed for anything as extravagant as flying in water to Bardia, but their fighters had more than enough to shoot at over the front there. That must have precluded some air support for Operation Midsummer Night's Dream.
Thanks. Makes sense to me.

Return to “WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean”