JAN.17TH 1941 — CAMP POLK LA.
It was a day of infamy the bombing of pearl harbor hundreds of lifes lost,hundreds of husbands killed,and sons lost.That seemed to empower my father to join the military one month and 3 days after the attack.He felt like he needed to give what he had for freedom and lives lost,so it was then he joined at camp polk la.was assigned to the 6704th training division then was sent off with the 8th 1 month later was sent to the phillipine islands
I miss you daddy
Invasion of the Philippine Islands
7 Dec 1941 - 5 May 1942
The 8th Armored Division A.K.A The Thundering Herd
At the start of WW2, Philippines was United States territory as per the 1898 Treaty of Paris. The archipalego was home to 19 million people, and was of strategic importance in the region. Because of the importance, the retired Army officer Douglas MacArthur, currently serving as Philippines' Field Marshal, was called back into service by President Franklin Roosevelt, and was given resources to mobilize Philippines defenses in case of a Japanese attack. MacArthur was given $10 million and 100 B-17 Flying Fortresses. MacArthur deployed most of his defenses on the main islands of Luzon and Mindanao, forming what he called "key or base point of the US defense line". The day after the Pearl Harbor attack the Japanese would test MacArthur's statement (though the attack was supposed to happen near-simultaneously; a heavy fog in Taiwan delayed Japanese attack).
In Washington, Stimson and Marshall believed that a strong presence of American air power in the Philippines would discourage Japanese aggression. On 15 Nov 1941, George Marshall proudly said in a press conference that "the greatest concentration of heavy bomber strength anywhere in the world" were gathered at the Philippines, ready to not only counterattack any attacks on the islands but also to strike at the Japanese home islands and set the "paper" cities of Japan on fire. When a reporter noted that the B-17 bombers lacked the range necessary for a round trip between Clark Field in Philippines and Tokyo, Marshall indicated air fields at Vladivostok would be shared by the friendly Russian government. We would see that Marshall would overestimate Stalin's friendliness toward the United States. When the Japanese planes appeared at the horizons, Major General Lewis Brereton's pilots were recovering from a night of partying at the Hotel that served as MacArthur's residence. In fact, the B-17 crew of the 27th Bombardment group were supposed to take their bombers southward to Mindanao, outside of Japanese attack range, but the crew decided to delay that order for several days in anticipation of this party in Brereton's honor. When the party ended at 2am Manila time, it was 8am at Pearl Harbor when the first Japanese aircraft dropped their torpedos, and General Yamashita's 25th Army were en route to British Malaya.
MacArthur anticipated Japanese aggression as early as late November when Japanese scouts were seen in northern Luzon frequently. In early December, Japanese bomber formations were observed flying within 20 miles of Lingayen Gulf beaches and returning to Formosa, presumably making trial runs in preparation for the attack. The actual attack came several hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, when Japanese air strikes destroyed half of MacArthur's air force on the ground. The Japanese army followed in three landing sites. 76 transport ships landed the 48th Division at Lingayen and the 16th Division at Lamon Bay, while the third landing was at Mindanao at the south of Luzon. The primary objectives of the land troops were to take airstrips so that they could continuously extend air superiority as they moved south.
In Washington on 14 Dec, Chief of Staff Marshall, who had not seen the Philippines since he was a first lieutenant in Manila in 1915, summoned Brigadier General Eisenhower to assess the situation. He told Marshall, essentially, to abandon the archipelago for the time being:
"General, it will be a long time before major reinforcements can go to the Philippines, longer than the garrison can hold out with any dirblet assistance, if the enemy commits major forces to their reduction. Our base must be in Australia, and we must start at once to expand it and to secure our communications to it."
Three airstrips at Luzon were taken very quickly, while the Lingayen Gulf region fell on 22 Dec. As an open city Manila would fall quickly, giving Japan the use of the naval bases at Manila Bay. The troops who landed at Mindanao marched toward Davao, which was captured on 20 Dec. A seaplane base was immediately set up at Davao to provide local air superiority, then Davao was being set up as the base of operations further south. The Japanese landing force only consisted of 57,000 men, but it had little difficulties fighting American and Filipino forces. While Japanese troops advanced across Luzon, President Manuel Quezon of the Philippines requested President Roosevelt to grant Philippines its independence so that he could announce Philippines' neutrality. Quezon's 8 Feb message said that:
"after nine weeks of fighting not even a small amount of aid has reached us from the United States. Help and assistance have been sent to other belligerent nations,... but seemingly no attempt has been made to transport anything here.... [T]he United States has practically doomed the Philippines to almost total extinction to secure a breathing space."
Despite the harsh truth told from his Filipino counterpart, Roosevelt refused the request for independence and neutrality. Partly, Roosevelt turned down the request knowing the Japanese would not acknowledge such a late statement of neutrality. However, he did grant MacArthur the permission to surrender Filipino troops (but not Americans).
Immediately following capturing key cities, naval bases, and airstrips, nine ships with 4,000 troops departed from Philippines for Jolo of the Sulu archipelago on 22 Dec. Jolo would fall on Christmas Day, 25 Dec, providing a forward base for supporting the attacks on Borneo. Another seaplane base was also set up at Jolo to form local air superiority.
It was surprising that with MacArthur predicting the attack to take place (though he predicted later) down to the accurate prediction of Japanese landing sites, MacArthur was unable to react properly to the Japanese attacks. MacArthur was said to be in shock, unable to give commands to his staff officers. When he finally got himself together, he ordered troops to resist the Japanese at the landing sites, which Lieutenant Harold Johnson (later chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff) called a "tragic error". Johnson believed that, in hindsight, instead of putting the inexperienced Filipino soldiers at the beaches only to be routed by the Japanese, they could have had been transporting food and other supplies to Corregidor where they would be badly needed later on. Some historians believed that the stockpiling of supplies on Bataan should had been done even earlier, for the retreat to the Bataan Peninsula had been in the design of "Rainbow 5" all along. Discrepencies developed in military history on how MacArthur's staff officers reacted. According to Brereton, he requested immediate bombing missions to attack Formosa to discourage further Japanese air strikes, but the authorization was not given by Sutherland, MacArthur's Chief of Staff. However, according to Sutherland, Bereton was given immediate authorization but Brereton did not know where to strike as American intelligence of Formosa was severely lacking.
With Japanese forces bearing down on Manila, MacArthur ordered his North Luzon Force to fight a delay-action campaign, confronting the Japanese advance troops and slowly retrograding as they destroyed key bridges. Meanwhile, the South Luzon Force marched toward the Bataan Peninsula with the goal to unite the two forces together for a standoff in Corregidor. "Again and again, these tactics would be repeated. Stand and fight, slip back and dynamite", MacArthur would note after the war in his memoirs, describing the delay-action retrograde maneuver performed by the North Luzon Force to provide time for South Luzon Force to march northward. MacArthur's hard-drinking General Jonathan Wainwright performed the maneuvers perfectly, succeeding in delaying the advancing Japanese troops under the command of Homma.
After MacArthur's troops retreated across the Bataan to Corregidor, under Washington's orders he left for Australia on 22 Feb 1942. He mistook Washington's intention (and Washington allowed him to misinterpret the messages) that when he reached Australia he would be greeted by a major American army, and he would be able to lead this army and return to the Philippines right away. There was no army, in fact, Australia did not even have enough defenses to protect itself. Upon arrival at Australia, he made the following note to journalists:
"The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return."
Though rather casually noted, "I shall return" became the powerful symbol which was the spiritual center of Filipino resistance. "It was scraped in the sands of the beaches, it was daubed on the walls of the barrios, it was stamped on the mail, it was whispered in the cloisters of the church", recalled MacArthur. "It became the battle cry of a great underground swell that no Japanese bayonet could still."
On Bataan, the American soldiers felt they were abandoned by their own government to fight a war on their own. "We are the battling bastards of Bataan," they mocked, "no papa, no mama, no Uncle Sam." Nevertheless, they fought valiantly. "They asked no quarter and they gave none.... They were filthy, and they were lousy, and they stank. And I loved them", noted MacArthur.
Japanese atrocities started even before Corregidor was conquered. United States Marine officer Lieutenant Michael Dobervich, a prisoner of war in Philippines, remembered his treatment.
"We drove along through the very congested road (Dobervich was forced to drive a captured US truck). We saw the beginning of the looting, bayoneting, face slapping.... It was hard to take. The stragglers were either bayoneted or shot.... Americans from general to private had to salute every and any Jap or suffer a blow with the rifle or a slap.... I arrived at camp on 11 April 1942.... [We had to] stand for sixteen hours in the terrific heat.... I saw several soldiers come back from a working party that were dead.... I had ten of my men die in my presence coming back from working parties, too sick and beyond recovery.... At this particular burial they piled about thirty bodies into one large pit.... Before the covering started, one of the dead bodies began to move; it was a feeble effort... to raise its head. The Jap guard ordered this Marine of mine to strike the head with a shovel. He hesitated and that enraged the guard so that the bayonet was thrust at him, so he was forced to obey."
As Lieutenant Dobervich would put it, "words cannot describe the conditions (of the camp)". Dobervich's experience was part of the Bataan Death March, a sixty mile march forced upon captured Filipino and American soldiers. 14,000 died during the march down the peninsula, and thousands more in the camps such as the one Dobervich was kept in.
The last of the Americans held their ground until 5 May when Wainwright finally surrendered to the Japanese.
It was here where he earned his phillipine island campaign medal ,good conduct medal,
European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign
The infantry then moved to the european and african campaigns.
The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was first created on November 6, 1942 by Executive Order 9265 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The decoration was intended to recognize those military service members who had performed military duty in the European Theater (to include North Africa and the Middle East) during the years of the Second World War. Colored bands representing Germany (on the ribbon's right side), Italy (on the ribbon's left side), and the United States (in the center of the ribbon) are visible in the ribbon. The brown and green areas of the ribbon represent the terrain of the area of conflict, which ranged from beaches and sand, to grass and woodlands, to mountains.
Originally known as the “EAME Ribbon”, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is awarded for any service performed between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946 provided such service was performed in the geographical theater areas of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. For those service members who participated in multiple battle campaigns, service stars are authorized to the decoration with the arrowhead device awarded for any airborne or amphibious operations performed. The Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain sailors.
The following campaigns are recognized by service stars to the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.Which are placed on the ribbon.
Egypt-Libya: June 11, 1942 – February 12, 1943
Air Offensive, Europe: July 4, 1942 – June 5, 1944
Algeria-French Morocco: November 8–11, 1942
Tunisia: November 12, 1942 – May 13, 1943
Sicily: May 14, 1943 – August 17, 1943
Naples-Foggia: August 18, 1943 – January 21, 1944
Anzio: January 22, 1944 – May 24, 1944
ROME -ARNO: January 22, 1944 – September 9, 1944
HE RECIVED ANOTHER SERVICE STAR FOR THIS BATTLE
Northern France: July 25, 1944 – September 14, 1944
Southern France: August 15, 1944 – September 14, 1944
Northern Apennines: September 10, 1944 – April 4, 1945
Rhineland: September 15, 1944 – March 21, 1945
Ardennes-Alsace: December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945
Central Europe: March 22, 1945 – May 11, 1945
Po Valley: April 5, 1945 – May 8, 1945
For those service members who did not participate in a designated battle campaign, the following "blanket campaigns" are authorized to the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, denoted by service stars
Antisubmarine: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
Ground Combat: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
Air Combat: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
The Pacific Theater counterpart to the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was awarded as a ribbon throughout the entire Second World War and it was not until 1947 that a full sized medal was authorized. The first recipient of the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower who was presented the decoration in recognition of his service as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II.
It was during this campaign he recieved the campaign medal and american defense service medal after moving through all those tours he was placed into action in the egypt -lybia campaign which were going to be his last for the end of the was was approaching.
The Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War was the initial stage of the North African Campaign of The Second World War.
From the start, the Western Desert Campaign was a continuous back-and-forth struggle. In September 1940, the first major move was initiated by the Italian forces in Libya against British and Commonwealth forces stationed in Egypt.
This offensive was quickly halted and, in December 1940, the British made a counterattack. What started as a five-day raid turned into Operation Compass, resulting in massive losses for the Italian forces.
The Italian's Axis partner, Germany, provided a contingent of ground forces (Heer) and air forces (Luftwaffe) to prevent a total collapse, quickly making Germany the dominant partner.
Axis forces would twice more launch large-scale assaults against the Allies. Each time the Axis forces pushed the Allied forces back to Egypt, but both times the Allies retaliated and regained the ground lost. On the second (and final) Axis push, the Allies were driven far into Egypt; however, the Allies recovered at El Alamein and then managed to drive the Axis forces west and completely out of Libya.
The Axis forces were driven back until they reached Tunisia when the "Western Desert Campaign" effectively ended and the Eighth Army and Rommel's forces became involved in the "Tunisia Campaign" which had begun in November 1942.
The Western Desert Campaign was heavily influenced by the availability of supplies and transport. The ability of the Allied forces, operating from besieged Malta to interdict Axis convoys was critical. Allied interdictions denied the German commander, Erwin Rommel, the fuel and the reinforcements he desperately needed at critical moments.
In early 1942, the United States supplied a small US Army Air Forces bomber contingent in support of the campaign, referring to it as the Egypt-Libya Campaign.
EGYPT AND LYBIA 11 Jun 42 - 12 Feb 43 DADDY RECIEVED ANOTHER SERVICE STAR FOR THIS BATTLE...
British had forces in Egypt since 1884. But the forces were much reduced as a result of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty signed with the Kingdom of Egypt in 1936. The relatively modest British and Commonwealth forces in Egypt were there primarily to protect the Suez Canal. The canal was vital to Britain's communications with her Far Eastern and Indian Ocean territories.
However, since 1938, the British forces in Egypt had included "Mobile Force (Egypt)." Commanded by Major General Percy Hobart, this was one of only two British armoured training formations. On the outbreak of war, this force was renamed "Armoured Division (Egypt)" and ultimately became the 7th Armoured Division. The 7th Armoured Division was later to become informally known as the "Desert Rats." The 7th Armoured Division served as the principal force defending the Egyptian border with Libya at the start of the war.
In June 1939, Lieutenant-General Henry Maitland "Jumbo" Wilson arrived in Cairo, Egypt as General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Troops in Egypt and was placed in command of the British and Commonwealth forces defending Egypt. At the end of July General Archibald Wavell was made Commander-in-Chief of the newly created Middle East Command with responsibility for the Middle East theatre which included North Africa, East Africa, Persia, the Middle East, and the British forces in the Balkans and Greece. On 17 June 1940, the troops Wilson had facing Libya under Major-General Richard O'Connor and his British 6th Infantry Division headquarters were redesignated Western Desert Force. O'Connor was promoted to Lieutenant-General in October as his command was reinforced and expanded.
Libya had been an Italian colony since the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) defeated the Ottoman Imperial Army in 1912 during the Italo-Turkish War. Bracketed by French North Africa and Egypt, the Italians prepared for conflicts on both sides.
At the outbreak of World War II, Italy had two armies in Libya: The Fifth Army and the Tenth Army. Both armies were commanded by the Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and Governor-General of Italian Libya. This one commander was the charismatic Marshal of the Air Force (Maresciallo dell'Aria) Italo Balbo. The Fifth Army in Tripolitania was commanded directly by General Italo Gariboldi and it had nine infantry divisions. The Tenth Army in Cyrenaica was commanded directly by Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani and it had five infantry divisions. In late June 1940, the principal force on the border with Egypt was the Tenth Army. In all respects the Italian land forces and air forces (Regia Aeronautica) available in Libya greatly outnumbered the British forces in Egypt. The British, however, had an advantage in better quality.
On 11 June 1940, the day after Italy declared war on the Allies, the Italian forces stationed in Libya and the British and Commonwealth forces stationed in Egypt began a series of raids on each other. Among the more notable achievements of these raids were the capture of Fort Capuzzo by the British Army's 11th Hussars and the death of Italo Balbo in a friendly fire incident soon after a British air raid.
On 12 June, sixty-three Italians were taken prisoner during a raid
Officers of the 11th Hussars use a parasol to give shade during a halt, while out patrolling on the Libyan frontier, 26 July 1940. The vehicle is a Morris CS9 armoured car.
On 5 August, a large but inconclusive action took place between Sidi Azeiz and Fort Capuzzo. Thirty Italian M11/39 medium tanks made contact with the 8th Hussars in an effort to re-establish themselves in the area. General Wavell concluded that he was in no position to deny the Italians. Wear and tear on the armoured vehicles of the 7th Armoured Division was mounting to crisis proportions and workshops were back-logged. With an average of only one half of his tank strength available for action and realising that his one effective force was being worn out to no strategic purpose, Wavell curtailed further extensive operations and handed over the defence of the frontier to the 7th Support Group under Brigadier William Gott and the 11th Hussars under Lieutenant-Colonel John Combe. These units would provide a screen of outposts to give warning of any Italian approach.
By 13 August, in terms of performance during the initial hostilities, the balance sheet was tilted in favour of the British. They dominated both the desert and the Italians. Early set-backs had left the Italians in a demoralised state and nowhere did they feel safe. They were not safe deep within the static defences of their own territory. And, with the possible exception of a few units like the Auto-Saharan Company (La Compania Auto-Avio-Sahariana), the Italians were not safe in the open desert where they were generally out of their element. In two months of desert warfare, the Italians had lost approximately three thousand men against British losses of little more than one hundred.
Throughout the rest of August and the early days of September, an uneasy calm settled upon the desert. The calm was broken only by sharp contact between patrols and sporadic air fighting as both sides sought knowledge of the other side's intention. While a formidable spy network in Egypt kept the Italians informed, the British chose other ways to obtain information on the Italians. The Long Range Desert Group was formed under Major Ralph A. Bagnold and soon Italian movements far behind the lines were being reported by sky-wave radio links.
Main article: Italian invasion of Egypt
Graziani's advance and Wavell's offensive — September 13, 1940 - February 7, 1941
Benito Mussolini, anxious to link Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana) with Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana) and to capture the Suez Canal and the Arabian oilfields, ordered the invasion of Egypt on August 8. On 9 September 1940, Italian forces under the overall command of Marshal Rodolfo Graziani invaded Egypt from their base in Cyrenaica. Sollum, Halfaya Pass, and Sidi Barrani were taken by the invading force. But Graziani halted the advance on 16 September, citing supply problems. Despite Mussolini urging Graziani to continue, the Italians dug in around Sidi Barrani and established several fortified camps (represented on the adjacent map as small red circles).
Graziani stopped eighty miles west of the British defences at Mersa Matruh. He planned to return to the offensive after his troops had been resupplied. With Mussolini's urging Graziani on, an Italian advance to Mersa Matruh was scheduled to start mid-December.
Main article: Operation Compass
A 1924 Rolls-Royce Armoured Car with modified turret, in the Bardia area of the Western Desert, 1940.
On 9 December 1940, the Western Desert Force (including portions of the Indian 4th Division and the British 7th Armoured Division) launched Operation Compass, the British counterattack. The Italians were caught completely off-guard. By 10 December, the British and Indian forces had taken more than 20,000 Italian prisoners. The following day, the British and Indian forces attacked Sollum. They were supported by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet. Sidi Barrani fell on the same day.
To O'Connor's shock, Wavell then replaced the experienced 4th Indian (who were immediately rushed to Port Sudan - see East African Campaign) with the newly arrived Australian 6th Division. The Australians then pressed on to capture Bardia and Tobruk, with little or no opposition. In early February, the Italians were in headlong retreat along the coast, pursued by the Australians.
O'Connor ordered the 7th Armoured to advance overland through Mechili to Beda Fomm and cut off the Italian line of retreat. Major General Michael O'Moore Creagh sent Combe Force, an ad hoc flying column, racing ahead of his tanks. Combe Force reached Beda Fomm just ahead of the Italians, and established a roadblock. After a hard and narrowly won battle on 6 February fight, the Italians surrendered 25,000 men, 200 artillery guns, 100 tanks and 1,500 vehicles.
This swift campaign by the British captured 130,000 Italians at a cost of 2,000 casualties. All through this operation, the Italians believed they were heavily outnumbered, when the reverse was the case. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, paraphrasing Churchill, quipped "Never has so much been surrendered by so many to so few." The remaining Italian forces retreated to El Agheila by 9 February 1941.
During the course of this battle, the Western Desert Force was renamed as XIII Corps
Further information: Siege of Tobruk
Erwin Rommel (first from the left) in his command APC SdKfz.250/3.
In early 1941, after the decisive British and Commonwealth victory in Cyrenaica, the military position was soon reversed. Wavell ordered a significant portion of O'Connor's XIII Corps to support Greece as part of Operation Lustre. While Wavell was reducing his forces in North Africa, German dictator Adolf Hitler responded to the Italian disaster by orderring Operation Sunflower (Unternehmen Sonnenblume). This was the deployment of the newly formed German "Afrika Korps" (Deutsches Afrikakorps) as reinforcements to the Italians to prevent total collapse. The German corps included fresh troops with better equipment and a charismatic commander, General Erwin Rommel.
Rommel's first offensive – March 24, 1941 - June 15, 1941
When Rommel arrived in North Africa, his orders were to assume a defensive posture and hold the front line. Finding that the British defences were thin, he quickly defeated the Allied forces at El Agheila on March 24. He then launched an offensive which, by 15 April, had pushed the British back to the border at Sollum, recapturing all of Libya except for Tobruk which was encircled and besieged. During this drive, the new field commander for HQ Cyrenaica Command (the new designation of XIII Corps), Lieutenant General Philip Neame, and O'Connor himself, who had been recalled to assist, were captured as was Major-General Michael Gambier-Parry, commander of the newly arrived British 2nd Armoured Division. With Neame and O'Connor gone, British and Commonwealth forces were once more brought under the reactivated Western Desert Force HQ. In command was Lieutenant-General Noel Beresford-Peirse, who had returned to Cairo from commanding the Indian 4th Infantry Division in the East African Campaign.
Rommel's first offensive was generally successful and his forces destroyed the 2nd Armoured Division. Several attempts to seize the isolated positions at Tobruk failed and the front lines stabilised at the Egyptian border.
Captured Italian M13/40 and M11/39 tanks at Tobruk.
Main articles: Operation Brevity and Operation Battleaxe
The Western Desert Force launched Operation Brevity in May 1941. This was an inconclusive attempt to secure more ground to launch the main effort to relieve Tobruk. Operation Battleaxe was launched in June. After the failure of Battleaxe, Wavell was replaced by Claude Auchinleck as Commander-in-Chief Middle East and the British forces were reinforced with XXX Corps.
The overall Allied field command now became British Eighth Army, formed from units from many countries, including 9th Division and 18th brigade from the Australian Army and the Indian Army, but also including divisions of South Africans, New Zealanders, a brigade of Free French under Marie-Pierre Koenig and the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade.
Main article: Operation Crusader
Auchinleck's offensive – November 18, 1941 - December 31, 1941.
Eighth Army, under the command of Lieutenant-General Alan Cunningham, launched Operation Crusader on 18 November 1941. Although the Africa Korps achieved several tactical successes (which caused a disagreement between the British army commanders and led to Auchinleck replacing Cunningham with Major-General Neil Ritchie), it was in the end forced to retreat and all the territory gained by Rommel in March and April was recaptured, with the exception of garrisons at Bardia and Sollum. Most significantly the Axis siege of Tobruk was relieved. The front line was again set at El Agheila.
Rommel's second offensive – January 21, 1942 - July 7, 1942
Advance of the Afrika Korps' 39th battalion tank hunters.
After the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the Australian forces were withdrawn from the Western Desert to the Pacific theater, while the 7th Armoured Division was withdrawn and 7th Armored Brigade was transferred to Burma.
The relatively inexperienced British 1st Armoured Division, which formed the principal defence around El Agheila, were spread out rather than concentrating its armour, as more experienced units had learned from earlier campaigns. Rommel's Afrika Korps attacked on the January 21 scattering the British 1st Armoured Division's units. The 2nd Armoured Brigade was also committed piecemeal and easily defeated by Rommel's more concentrated forces. Both units were forced back across the Cyrenaica line into eastern Libya, along with the 201st Guards Motor Brigade, in the process giving up both Msus and Benghazi to the German forces.
From February to May 1942, the front line settled down at the Gazala line, just west of Tobruk, with both armies preparing an offensive.
Rommel managed to get his offensive off first in June 1942. After a lengthy armoured battle, known as "the Cauldron", he defeated the Allies in the Battle of Gazala and captured Tobruk. Auchinleck fired Ritchie and took personal command of Eighth Army, halting Rommel at the Alamein Line only seventy miles from Alexandria in the First Battle of El Alamein.
Montgomery's Allied offense – November 1942 - February 1943
Main articles: Battle of Alam el Halfa and Second Battle of El Alamein
Churchill had, despite the circumstances, become disenchanted with Auchinleck. He was replaced by General Harold Alexander as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command and Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery, who became Commander of the Eighth Army. In this way, the new army commander was free of responsibilities stretching from Cyprus to the Sudan and eastwards to Syria. Alexander was also an effective buffer against political interventions from London.
Montgomery won a comprehensive defensive victory at the Battle of Alam el Halfa in August 1942 and then built up the Allied forces before returning to the offensive in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October-November. It's notable that he had resources far in excess in quantity and quality to those of his predecessors. Second Alamein proved a decisive victory. In spite of a brilliant rearguard action by Rommel, the Allies retook Egypt and then advanced across Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, capturing Tripoli in February 1943 and entering Tunisia in March.
AEC Dorchester armoured command vehicle and staff.
An attempt to encircle the Axis forces at Marsa Matruh was frustrated by rain and they escaped by 7 November. The coast road had been cut, but the Halfaya Pass was easily captured and Egypt was cleared. Tobruk was retaken on 13 November, again Rommel's forces escaped the trap, and Benghazi on 20 November. These two port towns were essential to the resupply of the campaign and an opportunity to outflank Rommel at Agedabia was cautiously declined, in case of counter-attack.
The Germans and Italians retired to a prepared defence line at El Agheila. Axis supplies and reinforcements were now directed into Tunisia at Rommel's expense: he was left with no capacity to counter-attack and was critically short of petrol. Hitler ordered that the El Agheila line should be held at all costs, whereas Rommel's view was for a fighting retreat to Tunisia and a strong defensive position at the Gabès Gap. Permission was granted for a withdrawal to Buerat, 50 miles (80 km) east of Sirte. An attempt to outflank El Agheila between 14 December and 16 December once again failed to encircle the enemy - Rommel had exercised his authority to withdraw and his line of retreat was adequately defended.
At this stage, the front was over 400 miles (640 km) from the nearest usable port at Tobruk and the difficulties of supply now hampered Montgomery's ability to deploy his full strength. Allied pressure continued as the Axis forces reached Buerat. This line was not strongly defended, however, and the pursuit continued. Tripoli was captured on 23 January 1943. The port was brought into use and, by mid-February 1943, nearly 3,000 tons of stores were landed daily.
Rommel's retreat continued, despite Italian dissent. On 4 February, Allied units entered Tunisia. Soon after, Rommel was recalled to Germany, on health grounds.
Montgomery has been criticised for his perceived failure to trap the Axis armies, bring them to a decisive battle and destroy them in Libya. His tactics have been seen as too cautious and too slow. The counter arguments point out the defensive skills of German forces generally and the Afrika Korps in particular, and Montgomery's need not to relapse into the "see-saw" warfare of previous north African campaigns. Warfare in the desert has been described as a "quarter-master's nightmare", given the conditions of desert warfare and the difficulties of supply. Montgomery is renowned for fighting "balanced campaigns" and husbanding his resources: no attack until his troops were prepared and properly supplied. 8th Army morale greatly improved under his command.
With the Axis forces driven out of Libya, they would soon find themselves trapped, in the Tunisia Campaign, between the recently landed Anglo-American forces of the British First Army to the west and the Eighth Army pursuing from the east.
It was during this fighting he would suffer a gunshot wound to the nose and recieved his purple heart ..My daddy was a soldier,son,father,grandfather,greatgrandfater,brother,uncle,cousin,friend,christian,and will be missed by many hearts exspecially mine I love u and tell mama i said hi i love you both very much...love phillip...