Rommel’s first success in the Desert

German troops advancing up the coast road towards the British lines, Libya, March 1941.

The German forces managed to surprise the British forces in the Libyan desert with their first attack. Rommel writes home to his wife:

3rd April

Dearest Lu,

We’ve been attacking since the 31st with dazzling success. There’ll be consternation amongst our masters in Tripoli and Rome, perhaps in Berlin too. I took the risk against all orders and instructions because the opportunity seemed favourable. No doubt it will all be pronounced good later and they’ll say they’d have done exactly the same in my place.

We’ve already reached our first objective, which we weren’t supposed to get until the end of May. The British are falling over each other to get away. Our casualties small. Booty can’t yet be estimated. You will understand that I can’t sleep for happiness.

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