The Italians consolidate in the Desert

British troops arrive in Egypt

British troops arrive in Egypt during 1940. The Italian invasion of Egypt, which began in early September, had seen their forces move forward to establish themselves in Desert camps.
The British still had time to bring in re-inforcements, although at all times they remained outnumbered.

From the NAVAL, MILITARY AND AIR SITUATION for the week up to 12 noon October 10th, 1940

MILITARY SITUATION.

Italy and Italian Possessions.

26. It is now over three weeks since the Italian forces moved into Egyptian territory and advanced to Sidi Barrani. Since then there has been no further eastward movement except for the advance, and subsequent withdrawal, of a column of M.T. and tanks which was probably making a reconnaissance in force. Despite continued harassing by our aircraft, there has been considerable M.T. activity in the L. of C. area.

The slowness of the advance indicates that Marshal Graziani is taking every step to bring up supplies and improve his communications. Further advance by the Italians would involve greater difficulties of supply, particularly of water, and the lengthened lines of communication will become increasingly vulnerable to our air and naval bombardment.

Great Britain.

42. During this period there was a reduction in the scale of operations carried out by the German Air Force, probably because of adverse weather conditions. On three days of the week there were no attacks by enemy formations, but instead there was a fairly continuous succession of raids by single aircraft.

On the days which were fine operations were comparable with those of the preceding week, and on the 5th and 7th October over 500 aircraft operated over this country, fighters providing very large escorts for the long-range bombers. Fighter formations by themselves were also sent on patrols over South-East England, and often covered attacks by small formations and single aircraft. Fighters have also been used for bombing and their employment in this way may be extended.

Enemy formations are showing an increasing disinclination to press home attacks when intercepted, and the head-on attacks of our fighters are proving particularly effective. A heavy attack was made on the Westland aircraft works at Yeovil on the 7th October, but no damage was done.

Home Security Situation

General.

During the period under review there has been a decrease in the enemy’s use of parachute mines, and a considerable increase in the number of cases of machine-gunning of civilians in the street. The latter have not caused serious casualties. Damage and casualties have been less than in previous weeks.

Civilian Casualties.

96. The approximate figures for week ending 0600 the 9th October are 711 killed and 1,767 wounded. These figures include 549 killed and 1,081 wounded in London.

Warnings.

97. London has been under warning 26 times by day, for a total period of over 24 hours; and 10 times by night, for a total period of over 50 hours. Liverpool has had 11 day warnings, and 6 night (totals—approximately 6 and 10 hours respectively); Bristol has had 9 day warnings (approximately 3 hours) and 8 night (about 12 hours); and Middlesborough has had 7 night warnings (total about 4 hours).

Disposal of Unexploded Bombs.

98. There has been a considerable expansion in the number of bomb-disposal sections and a rise in the rate of disposal of unexploded bombs may be expected as soon as the training of new personnel is completed. The process of diagnosis of unexploded bombs has improved, as more of the officers of local authorities gain experience in recognising them, but the number of so-called unexploded bombs which the bomb-disposal parties find to have already exploded is still high. The number of unexploded bombs outstanding in the London Region, for instance, on the evening of the 7th October was 966, a reduction of 200 on the corresponding figure for the 1st October.

See TNA :cab/66/12/43

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