Battle rages at Bardia

An official photograph taken 4 January 1941, demonstrating how cold it was in the desert. General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief, Middle East, with Lieutenant General Richard O'Connor, Commander Western Desert Forces, during the assault on Bardia.

The Battle for Bardia was was still being fought on the fourth of January. Although it was progressing well the 6th Australian Division still sustained over 500 casualties in the assault. While the Italians were poorly led and lacked a coherent strategy, the front line troops were capable of putting up fierce resistance.

General Wavell had to juggle limited resources around a wide theatre. He was building up troops in Sudan for an assault on Italian occupied East Africa. He was already deploying troops to Crete, along with a strong RAF contingent in Greece itself.

Lieutenant General Richard O’Connor was masterminding the fast moving Operation Compass, pushing the Italians out of Egypt and pursuing them into Libya. He had already had to contend with the diversion of the experienced 4th Indian Division to Sudan just as soon as the ‘important raid’ looked like becoming something more significant. The Australian troops who replaced them were under equipped and lacked experience in the desert, although this did not seem to affect their performance. There was a lack of good transport to sustain the momentum but improvisation and the capture of Italian motor transport allowed him to continue to exploit his successes. Advanced tank units were already beginning the siege of the next Italian garrison along the coast, Tobruk.

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Chuck Halverson January 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Keep up the excellent work…I wish there were more comments to show support. Been following for about 6 months and this is one of my favorite RSS feeds.

Thanks again,

Chuck Halverson
Saint Paul, MN USA

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