Saturday, 16 March 2013

Tobruk Commando: The Raid to Destroy Rommel's Base - Gordon Landsborough

Title: Tobruk Commando: The Raid to Destroy Rommel’s Base
Author: Gordon Landsborough
Publisher: Greenhill Books
Pages: 216

Content: Op Agreement was an audacious commando raid on the Afrika Corps main port of Tobruk intended to deny Rommel of the three commodities critical to his operations: shipping, a supply port and oil. Planned in the fall of 1942 it was an effort to curb German advancement towards Cairo during a period when Allied fortunes throughout the world were at their lowest. Originally conceived as a low level strike involving only the Long Range Desert Group, it quickly manifested itself (due to mission creep from GHQ staff) into a massive operation involving multiple platforms of the Royal Navy, over 400 Royal marines, elements of LRDG, a 100 man commando unit, large bomber formations of the RAF and multiple targets outside of Tobruk (Benghazi and Derna). The concept involved a transit through the desert of close to 2000 km’s by the LRDG and commando’s where they would appear at Tobruk disguised as POW’s. Once they had neutralized some of the critical defences the rest of the attack group would come in by sea and complete the destruction of Tobruk. The audacity of the operation was breathtaking but its success rested on certain critical factors falling into place. As the scope of the operation grew, so did the potential for error and discovery. Ultimately, the calculated risks being undertaken were over balanced by the failure of the Allies to ensure that security was maintained. The end result was a failure of the mission, a loss of numerous naval assets and hundreds of men. The mission serves as a testament to the courage of those involved but also to the dangers of mission creep, lax security, under estimation of the enemy, lack of preparation and the difficulty of combined ops. A sobering yet thrilling read.

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