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Encyclopedia > Battle of Gazala
Battle of Gazala
Part of World War II, North African Campaign

The Western Desert around the time of the Gazala battles.
Date May 26June 21, 1942
Location Gazala, near Tobruk, Libya
Result Decisive Axis victory
Combatants
Flag of Nazi Germany Panzer Army Afrika Italian Army Flag of United Kingdom Eighth Army
Commanders
Erwin Rommel Claude Auchinleck
Neil Ritchie
Strength
80,000
390 tanks
175,000
949 tanks
Casualties
32,000 dead, wounded, or captured
114 tanks destroyed
98,000 dead, wounded, or captured
540 tanks destroyed
Western Desert Campaign
CompassSonnenblumeTobrukBrevityBattleaxeCrusaderGazalaBir Hakeim1st AlameinAlam HalfaAgreement2nd Alamein

The Battle of Gazala was an important battle of the World War II Western Desert Campaign, fought around the port of Tobruk in Libya from May 26 to June 21, 1942. The combatants on the Axis side were the Panzer Army Afrika, consisting of German and Italian units and commanded by the "Desert Fox" Colonel-General Erwin Rommel; the Allied forces were the Eighth Army, commanded by Major General Neil Ritchie under the close supervision of the Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... During World War II, the North African Campaign, also known as the Desert War, took place in the North African desert from September 13, 1940 to May 13, 1943. ... Download high resolution version (1204x447, 98 KB)Rommels second offensive -- January 21, 1942 - July 7, 1942 Source: US ARMY License: US Government document. ... May 26 is the 146th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (147th in leap years). ... June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 193 days remaining. ... 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... Tobruk or Tubruq (Arabic: طبرق; also transliterated as Tóbruch, Tobruch, Å¢ubruq, Tobruck ) is a town, seaport, municipality, and peninsula in eastern Libya in Northern Africa. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Germany_1933. ... ... Coat of Arms of the Italian Army Dardo IFV on exercise in Campo Teulada. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations in World War II, fighting in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy. ... Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( ) (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was one of the most distinguished German field marshals of World War II. He was the commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps and also became known by the nickname “The Desert Fox” (Wüstenfuchs,  ) for the skillful military campaigns he... Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE (June 21, 1884 - March 23, 1981), nicknamed The Auk, was a British army commander during World War II. // Born in Aldershot, he grew up in impoverished circumstances, but was able through hard work and scholarships to graduate from... General Ritchie as commander of XII Corps in France General Sir Neil Ritchie GBE, KCB, DSO, MC (July 29, 1897 - December 11, 1983) was a British commanding officer during the Second World War. ... The Western Desert Campaign was the primary early theatre of the North African Campaign of World War II. It is sometimes referred to as the Egypt-Libya Campaign. ... Combatants Western Desert Force Italian Tenth Army Commanders Richard OConnor Rodolfo Graziani Pietro Maletti † Strength 50,000 soldiers 120 guns 275 tanks 100,000 soldiers 1,600 guns 600 light tanks Casualties 494 dead 1,225 wounded 3,000 dead 115,000 captured 400 tanks 1,292 guns Operation... During World War II. Operation Sonnenblume (German for sunflower) was the deployment of German troops (the “Afrika Korps”) to the North African Campaign in February, 1941. ... Combatants Australia United Kingdom South Africa Poland Czechoslovakia Germany Italy Commanders Leslie Morshead Erwin Rommel Strength 14,000 35,000? Casualties Britain: 9009 killed 941 captured estimated 12,000 total 8,000 The Siege of Tobruk was a lengthy confrontation between Axis and Allied forces, mostly Australian, in the North... Combatants Germany Italy United Kingdom Commanders Erwin Rommel Archibald Wavell Noel Beresford-Peirse Strength Afrika Korps: German 5th Light Division German 15th Panzer Division Italian 132nd Armored Division Ariete Italian 27 Infantry Division Brescia Italian 102 Motorised Division Trento XIII Corps: British 7th Armoured Division Indian 4th Infantry Division 20... Combatants Germany, Italy United Kingdom, India Commanders Erwin Rommel Archibald Wavell Noel Beresford-Peirse Strength Afrika Korps including 5th Light Division and 15th Panzer Division, about 13,000 XIII Corp consisting of 7th Armoured Division and 4th Indian Division 20,000+ troops with 200 tanks Casualties 12 tanks destroyed 700... Combatants United Kingdom Australia New Zealand Poland Germany Italy Commanders Claude Auchinleck Alan Gordon Cunningham Neil Ritchie Erwin Rommel Ludwig Crüwell Strength 8th Army comprising XIII Corps, XXX Corps and 70th Division. ... Combatants Free French Forces Afrika Korps Commanders Marie Pierre Koenig Erwin Rommel Strength 3703  ? Casualties 140 Dead, 229 Wounded, 814 Captured 3300 Dead and Wounded, 277 Captured The Battle of Bir Hakeim (May 26, 1942 - June 11, 1942) is a World War II battle following the Afrika Korps 1942 campaign. ... The First Battle of El Alamein 1–July 27, 1942 was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, fought between the German–Italian Afrika Korps commanded by Erwin Rommel and the British Eighth Army, commanded by Claude Auchinleck. ... Battle of Alam Halfa Conflict World War II Date August 30–September 6, 1942 Place El Alamein, Egypt Result Allied strategic victory Axis tactical victory The Battle of Alam el Halfa took place between August 30 and September 6, 1942 during the Western Desert Campaign of World War II... During World War II, Operation Agreement consisted of ground and amphibious attacks by British, Rhodesian and New Zealand forces on German- and Italian-held Tobruk (Operation Daffodil), Benghazi (Operation Snowdrop), Jalo oasis (Operation Tulip) and Barce (Operation Hyacinth) launched on 13 September 1942. ... For the Battle of Alam Halfa, which is also often termed the Second Battle of El Alamein, see Battle of Alam Halfa Combatants British Eighth Army Panzer Army Africa Commanders Bernard Montgomery Erwin Rommel Strength 220,000 men 1,100 tanks[1] 116,000 men[1] 559 tanks(220 panzers... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... The Western Desert Campaign was the primary early theatre of the North African Campaign of World War II. It is sometimes referred to as the Egypt-Libya Campaign. ... Tobruk or Tubruq (Arabic: طبرق; also transliterated as Tóbruch, Tobruch, Å¢ubruq, Tobruck ) is a town, seaport, municipality, and peninsula in eastern Libya in Northern Africa. ... May 26 is the 146th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (147th in leap years). ... June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 193 days remaining. ... 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Panzer Group Afrika Panzer Army Afrika German-Italian Panzer Army Panzer Group Afrika (German Panzergruppe Afrika)1 was established in September 1941 to control the German mechanized forces in North Africa during World War II. Erwin Rommel was placed in command, handing command of the Afrika Korps over to Ludwig... Colonel General is a senior military rank which is used in some of the world’s militaries. ... Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( ) (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was one of the most distinguished German field marshals of World War II. He was the commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps and also became known by the nickname “The Desert Fox” (Wüstenfuchs,  ) for the skillful military campaigns he... The Allies of World War II were the countries officially opposed to the Axis powers during the Second World War. ... The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations in World War II, fighting in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy. ... General Ritchie as commander of XII Corps in France General Sir Neil Ritchie GBE, KCB, DSO, MC (July 29, 1897 - December 11, 1983) was a British commanding officer during the Second World War. ... Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE (June 21, 1884 - March 23, 1981), nicknamed The Auk, was a British army commander during World War II. // Born in Aldershot, he grew up in impoverished circumstances, but was able through hard work and scholarships to graduate from...

Contents

Prelude

Following Rommel's attack in January 1942, the Allies had retreated across Libya to a strong position on a line between the fortified port of Tobruk on the Mediterranean coast and the town of Bir Hakeim to the south. Tobruk or Tubruq (Arabic: طبرق; also transliterated as Tóbruch, Tobruch, Ţubruq, Tobruck ) is a town, seaport, municipality, and peninsula in eastern Libya in Northern Africa. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... The Battle of Bir Hakeim (May 26, 1942 - June 11, 1942) was fought, during World War II, between the Italian Afrika Korps and the 1st Free French Brigade, with support from the British 7th Armoured Division. ...


Battle

Major General Ritchie addressing his commanders, 31 May 1942.
Major General Ritchie addressing his commanders, 31 May 1942.

On May 27 Rommel personally led elements of Panzer Army Afrika – the Afrika Korps, the Italian XX Motorized Corps, and the German 90th Light Afrika Division – in a brilliant but risky flank around the southern end of the Allied lines, trusting to the enemy's own minefields to protect his flank and rear. The Italian X Corps pinned the Allied troops down with a frontal attack on the Allied front line, and the Italian 101st Motorized Division Trieste attacked the fortified "box" at Bir Hakeim from the west while the Italian 132nd Armoured Division Ariete, on the left flank of Rommel's sweep, attempted to seize it from the rear. The box, defended by the 1st Free French Brigade under Marie-Pierre Koenig, proved to be a bigger problem than Rommel had anticipated, and Panzer Army Afrika found itself trapped in a region known as "the Cauldron", with Bir Hakeim to the south, Tobruk to the north, and the extensive mine belts of the original Allied front line to the west, and assailed by Allied armour from the east. Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... General Ritchie as commander of XII Corps in France General Sir Neil Ritchie GBE, KCB, DSO, MC (July 29, 1897 - December 11, 1983) was a British commanding officer during the Second World War. ... May 31 is the 151st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (152nd in leap years), with 214 days remaining. ... May 27 is the 147th day (148th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 218 days remaining. ... The Deutsches Afrikakorps (often just Afrika Korps or DAK) was the corps-level headquarters controlling the German Panzer divisions in Libya and Egypts Western Desert during the North African Campaign of World War II. Since there was little turnover in the units attached to the corps the term is... Division zbV Afrika 90th Light Infantry Division 90th Light Afrika Division 90th Panzergrenadier Division Created in August 1941 as Division zbV Afrika, from units already in Africa under the control of . ... ARIETE Armoured Division was formed in MILAN on February 1939; marked by No. ... Marie Pierre Koenig (October 10, 1898—September 2, 1970) was a French general. ...


Rommel solved the problem presented by the situation by means of several methodical steps, first attacking westward back toward his own original front line in order to restore a route of supply. In this western attack he had to destroy the British 150th Infantry Brigade box in order to break through to his lines. He then weathered a somewhat late and uncoordinated Allied counterattack, dispatched strong forces southward to clear the Free French out of Bir Hakeim, and then resumed his eastward advance with his armour once more sweeping around the remaining positions in a repeat of his initial moves several days earlier. Though he drove the Allies off the field, Free French resistance as well as exhaustion and an insufficiency of troops meant that he failed to run down several retiring Allied divisions. This World War II British Army formation was part of the Territorial Army unit the British 50th Infantry Division. ... The Battle of Bir Hakeim (May 26, 1942 - June 11, 1942) was fought, during World War II, between the Italian Afrika Korps and the 1st Free French Brigade, with support from the British 7th Armoured Division. ...


Aftermath

On 14 June Auchinleck retreated east to a strong position on the Alamein Line on the border of Egypt, leaving the 2nd South African Division to defend an isolated Tobruk much as Wavell had done in April 1941. Since Tobruk had previously withstood a siege of nine months before being relieved by Operation Crusader in December 1941, the Allies expected it to do so again. June 14 is the 165th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (166th in leap years), with 200 days remaining. ... Tobruk or Tubruq (Arabic: طبرق; also transliterated as Tóbruch, Tobruch, Ţubruq, Tobruck ) is a town, seaport, municipality, and peninsula in eastern Libya in Northern Africa. ... Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell (May 5, 1883 _ May 24, 1950) was a British General and the commander of British Army forces in the Middle East during World War II. He led British forces to victory over the Italians, only to be defeated by the German army. ... Combatants United Kingdom Australia New Zealand Poland Germany Italy Commanders Claude Auchinleck Alan Gordon Cunningham Neil Ritchie Erwin Rommel Ludwig Crüwell Strength 8th Army comprising XIII Corps, XXX Corps and 70th Division. ...


However, just seven days later, on 21 June 1942, 35,000 Allied troops (including the entire South African 2nd Division), were surrendered to Navarrini's 30,000 troops. (An echo of the surrender of 50,000 Commonwealth troops to three Japanese divisions following the fall of Singapore, a few months earlier.) June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 193 days remaining. ... 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... The South African 2nd Infantry Division was an infantry division of the South African Army during World War II. // The division was formed on 23 October 1940 with its divisional HQ at Voortrekkerhoogte, South Africa. ... Combatants Malaya Command: Indian III Corps Australian 8th Div. ...


The defeat at Gazala and Tobruk's surrender led to the dismissal of Ritchie, and later Auchinleck, and their replacement by Montgomery and Alexander respectively. Bernard Law Montgomery Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (November 17, 1887 - March 24, 1976) was a British military officer during World War II often referred to as Monty. ... Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, KG, OM, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, MC, LL.D, PC (10 December 1891 - 16 June 1969) was a British military commander and field marshal, notably during the Second World War as the commander of the 15th Army...


After capturing Tobruk Panzer Army Afrika advanced into Egypt and attacked the Alamein Line on 1 July 1942 in the First Battle of El Alamein. July 1 is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 183 days remaining. ... 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... The First Battle of El Alamein 1–July 27, 1942 was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, fought between the German–Italian Afrika Korps commanded by Erwin Rommel and the British Eighth Army, commanded by Claude Auchinleck. ...


Orders of battle

Allied

The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations in World War II, fighting in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy. ... General Ritchie as commander of XII Corps in France General Sir Neil Ritchie GBE, KCB, DSO, MC (July 29, 1897 - December 11, 1983) was a British commanding officer during the Second World War. ... The Western Desert Force, during World War II, was a British Commonwealth Army unit stationed in Egypt. ... William Strafer Gott, during World War II, was a Lieutenant General in the British Eighth Army. ... The South African 1st Infantry Division was an infantry division of the South African Army during World War II. // The division was formed on 13 August 1940 in South Africa with its HQ at the South African Military College. ... Major-General Daniel Pienaar CB DSO (1893-1942) was a South African World War II military commander. ... The South African 2nd Infantry Division was an infantry division of the South African Army during World War II. // The division was formed on 23 October 1940 with its divisional HQ at Voortrekkerhoogte, South Africa. ... General Hendrik Klopper DSO (1902-1978) was a South African military commander. ... // 50th Northumbrian Division History This formation was sent to France in 1940 as a Territorial Army division, and was involved in the evacuation at Dunkirk. ... William Havelock Ramsden CB CBE DSO MC Mentioned in Dispatches three times, was a noted British Army commander during the Second World War . ... The British 1st Army Tank Brigade took part in Operation Crusader, being a part of the XIII Corps. ... Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade (Polish Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Karpackich) was a Polish military unit formed in 1940 in French Syria of the Polish soldiers exiled after the Polish Defence War of 1939. ... Bardia is a geographic region in the Kingdom of Nepal. ... The XXX Corps was an infantry corps in the British Army. ... Lieutenant General Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie, 1st Baron Norrie, GCMG, GCVO, CB, DSO, MC (1893–1977) was an Australian-New Zealand general and political figure. ... The British 1st Armoured Division is the title of an armoured division of the British Army. ... Lieutenant General Herbert Lumsden, CB, DSO, MC, (1897 - January 6, 1945) was a British Army general during World War II. Lumsden was widely praised for his command of an Armoured car regiment during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. ... The 2nd Armoured Brigade was a regular British Army unit during the Second World War , originally titled 2nd Light Armoured Brigade. ... The 22nd Armoured Brigade, a British Army formation since World War II, was formed from the Territorial Army formation 22nd Heavy Armoured Brigade 3rd September 1939. ... The 201st Guards Motor Brigade was a British Army formation in World War ii. ... The 7th Armoured Division (known as the Desert Rats) of the British Army was the most famous unit of its type in British service during World War II. It was a regular division in the Middle East, designated the Mobile Division at first, renamed the Armoured Division (Egypt) in September... General Sir Frank Messervy General Sir Frank Walter Messervy, KCSI, KBE, CB, DSO, (1893 - 1974) was a British officer in both the First and Second World Wars and was the first Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Royal Army (15 August 1947 – 10 February 1948 or Aug 1948?). He became... The 4th Armoured Brigade was a British Army brigade during the Second World War. ...

Axis

  • Group Crüwell (Crüwell)1
    • Italian X Corps
      • Italian 60th Infantry Division Sabratha
      • Italian 102nd Motorized Division Trento
    • Italian XXI Corps
      • Italian 17th Infantry Division Pavia
      • Italian 27th Infantry Division Brescia
    • German 150th Rifle Brigade (detached from 90th Light)

Note 1: Strictly speaking Group Crüwell was part of Panzer Army Afrika, but as a practical matter Rommel temporarily split his Army in half, with Crüwell commanding the infantry units along the original front line while Rommel joined the mechanized forces in the flanking move. Panzer Group Afrika Panzer Army Afrika German-Italian Panzer Army Panzer Group Afrika (German Panzergruppe Afrika)1 was established in September 1941 to control the German mechanized forces in North Africa during World War II. Erwin Rommel was placed in command, handing command of the Afrika Korps over to Ludwig... Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( ) (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was one of the most distinguished German field marshals of World War II. He was the commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps and also became known by the nickname “The Desert Fox” (Wüstenfuchs,  ) for the skillful military campaigns he... The Deutsches Afrikakorps (often just Afrika Korps or DAK) was the corps-level headquarters controlling the German Panzer divisions in Libya and Egypts Western Desert during the North African Campaign of World War II. Since there was little turnover in the units attached to the corps the term is... 33rd Infantry Division 15th Panzer Division 15th Panzergrenadier Division History This unit was created as the 33rd Infantry Division in 1936, and mobilized in 1939, but it did not take part in the invasion of Poland. ... The 21st Panzer Division was a German armoured division best known for its role in the Battles of El Alamenein (1942) and Normandy (1944) during World War II. Created as 5th Light Division or 5th Light Afrika Division in Africa in early 1941, from an ad hoc collection of smaller... ARIETE Armoured Division was formed in MILAN on February 1939; marked by No. ... Division zbV Afrika 90th Light Infantry Division 90th Light Afrika Division 90th Panzergrenadier Division Created in August 1941 as Division zbV Afrika, from units already in Africa under the control of . ... Ludwig Crüwell (March 20, 1892 - September 25, 1958), German General known for his involvement with the Afrika Korps. ...


See also

Combatants Free French Forces Afrika Korps Commanders Marie Pierre Koenig Erwin Rommel Strength 3703  ? Casualties 140 Dead, 229 Wounded, 814 Captured 3300 Dead and Wounded, 277 Captured The Battle of Bir Hakeim (May 26, 1942 - June 11, 1942) is a World War II battle following the Afrika Korps 1942 campaign. ... Combatants Australia United Kingdom South Africa Poland Czechoslovakia Germany Italy Commanders Leslie Morshead Erwin Rommel Strength 14,000 35,000? Casualties Britain: 9009 killed 941 captured estimated 12,000 total 8,000 The Siege of Tobruk was a lengthy confrontation between Axis and Allied forces, mostly Australian, in the North...

References

Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin (30 August 1904 - 28 June 1997) was a Generalmajor in the German Army during World War II. A participant in most of the major campaigns of the war, he became well-known afterwards for his memoirs Panzer Battles, first published in 1956 and regularly reprinted since... Ballantine Books, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine, is a major book publisher and is currently owned by Random House. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
First Battle of El Alamein - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (493 words)
The First Battle of El Alamein 1–July 31, 1942 was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, fought between the German–Italian Afrika Korps commanded by Erwin Rommel and the British Eighth Army, commanded by Claude Auchinleck.
Following the defeat at the Battle of Gazala in June 1942, the Eighth Army had retreated from Mersa Matruh to the Alamein Line in Egypt, a 40 mile (60 km) gap between the town of El Alamein on the Mediterranean coast to the north and the Qattara Depression in the desert to the south.
A second attempt by Rommel to bypass or break the Commonwealth position was repulsed in the Battle of Alam Halfa in August, and in October the Eighth Army, now commanded by Bernard Montgomery, decisively defeated the Axis forces in the Second Battle of El Alamein.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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