14.4.41

The news today is appalling. The Germans are at the Egyptian frontier and a British force in Tobruk has the appearance of being cut off, though this is denied from Cairo. [1] Opinion is divided as to whether the Germans really have an overwhelming army in Libya, or whether they have only a comparatively small force while we have practically nothing, most of the troops and fighting vehicles having been withdrawn to other fronts as soon as we had taken Benghazi. In my opinion the latter is the likelier, and also the probability is that we sent only European troops to Greece and have chiefly Indians and Negroes in Egypt. D., speaking from a knowledge of South Africa, thinks that after Benghazi was taken the army was removed not so much for use in Greece as to polish off the Abyssinian campaign, and that the motive for this was political, to give the South Africans, who are more or less hostile to us, a victory to keep them in good temper. If we can hang on to Egypt the whole thing will have been worth while for the sake of clearing the Red Sea and opening that route to American ships. But the necessary complement to this is the French West African ports, which we could have seized a year ago almost without fighting.

Non-aggression pact between Russia and Japan, the published terms of which are vague in the extreme. But there must presumably be a secret clause by which Russia agrees to abandon China, no doubt gradually and without admitting what is happening, as in the case of Spain. Otherwise it is difficult to see what meaning the pact can have.

From Greece no real news whatever. One silly story about a British armoured-car patrol surprising a party of Germans has now been repeated three days running.

[1] General Rommel’s troops encircled Tobruk on 12 April. The British forces had been swept out of Cyrenaica very rapidly (their strength having been depleted to send a force to Greece). However, Tobruk held out until relieved on 4 December 1941. Peter Davison

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One Response to 14.4.41

  1. truth is life says:

    Otherwise it is difficult to see what meaning the pact can have.

    It means the Japanese got whooped by the Soviets twice, George. They don’t want the Soviet Army bothering them, especially as they’re shortly to start on their “Southern Strategy”. (And in two months, the Soviets won’t want the Japanese Army bothering them, either).

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