Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy
What were the blunders made by Axis Powers in World War II?
The single major cause of Axis defeat may well have been their overextended aims of conquest. The impression is that the Axis were dominated by an imperative urge to go and on until they were stopped.
Â They had limited resources and eventually were bound to over-extend themselves.
Â Where and Why did they really lose?
Â One may point to numerous crucial events and factors that caused the Axis to be defeated. Examples include the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, Pearl Harbor and the entry of the US, the attack on Russia, etc. These however may be considered more as setbacks or predetermined disasters rather than Engendering Defeats that determined eventual loss.
Â As causes whose end results ended the Axis power I would choose the following fields of engagement:
Â 1. Richard O'Connor in North Africa (Operation Compass).
Â 2. Battle of Midway.
Â 3. Orde Wingate and William Slim in Burma
1. Richard O'Connor in North Africa (Operation Compass).
General Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor commanded Operation Compass. British forces (including many Australians and others) in early 1941 defeated the Italians. They had taken over 130,000 prisoners, 400 tanks and 1,292 guns at the cost of 500 killed and 1,373 wounded. This victory was due not only to the prowess and determination of the soldiers under his command but also to O'Connor himself.
Â The victory of O'Connor led Hitler, in March 1941, to send General Erwin Rommel along with the German Africa Corps to join the Italian remnant in Libya. In April 1941 O'Connor was captured by chance (but later escaped) and Rommel enjoyed some initial victories. It is worth noting that the task of Rommel official included killing as many Jews as possible!
"A second myth is the separation of the war from the Holocaust. Hitler did not plan the invasion of France because the French did not let him visit Paris (8.42); ...there was purpose to the war Germany initiated. That purpose was a demographic revolution on the globe of which killing all Jews was a central point (9.05). Erwin Rommel was first sent to North Africa to salvage Mussolini's hold on Libya... He was to arrange the (9.21) killing of all Jews in Egypt, Palestine, and elsewhere in the Middle East with the murder commando at his headquarters. Hitler did not trust the Italians, who were to get the area, to carry out this important mission (9.35)..."
Nevertheless the damage had been done. It resulted in the defeat of Germany.
Â The victory of O'Connor against the Italians had safeguarded the supplies of oil in the Middle East. It helped ensure the safety of the large Jewish population in Palestine. It protected the Suez Canal and the route to India. It ensured the neutrality of Turkey, and made an impression on Russia. Contrary to general impressions the Italians did have a dangerous military potential. Under a more responsible and inspiring leadership or under German officers and command they could have done much damage. The Italians were also helping Germany exert pressure on Fascist Spain to join the Axis forces. O'Connor had done much to neutralize these threats.
Â Perhaps just as importantly, the victory of O'Connor caused the Germans to commit many of their best soldiers and much needed war materiel to what in hindsight may be considered a lost cause. The German effort in North Africa drained them dry. It weakened them drastically in the struggle with Russia. The losses incurred by Rommel may well have otherwise turned the tide in Russia. Thank God it did not. On the other hand consequent developments in North Africa demonstrated that the British were no longer just a defiant island hiding behind their planes and ships. The British were henceforth able to employ their relative advantage in trained manpower and industrial war production. The British used overwhelming force and smashed the Germans and Italians at El Alamein in October-November, 1942. The Americans followed up by defeating the remnants of the Axis in North Africa. From there they invaded Sicily, Italy, and later southern France. Even if D-Day had have failed the Allies would still have won! In general the British effort in North Africa had served to invigorate and strengthen the Allies. The Germans on the other hand were enervated by it.
Â See Also:
Â Why was General Richard Oâ€™Connorâ€™s Command in Northwest Europe Less Effective than Expected? A Monograph by MAJ Sam E A Cates RIFLES British ArmyÂ
Â How might the North African Campaign in WW2 have been different had General Sir Richard O'Connor not been captured in April 1941?
Â 2. Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway took place between 4 and 7 June 1942. It resulted in the destruction of all four large large aircraft carriers of the Japanese Navy, the loss of Japanese aircraft pilots and maintenance people, and of other ships.
Â The losses were irreversible and meant the irrevocable termination of Japanese Maritime Dominance.
3. Orde Wingate and William Slim in Burma
Orde Charles Wingate (1903-1944) was a British Zionist who helped train the Jewish Hagana in Palestine. This laid to the foundations for the IDF. In 1941 using a mixed force of British soldiers, Jews from Palestine, and Ethiopians Wingate defeated a very much larger Italian force and delivered Ethiopia from Italian rule. In 1942 Wingate arrived in Burma most of which was under Japanese control. Wingate trained and formed guerilla commando-type units in which British solders together with local tribesman penetrated behind Japanese lines and attacked them. The activities of Wingate caused the Japanese to divert more forces to the region thus weakening other fronts. Wingate was killed in an air crash on 24 March 1944. The offical commander of Wingate in Burma had been Field Marshal William Joseph Slim. Wingate and Slim had not gotten on too well together. Wingate would often use his clout in higher circles (e.g. the favor of Churchill) to override Slim. Nevertheless the tactics later adopted by Slim, that led to victory, incorporated principles that Wingate had promoted and exemplified on that same battlefront.
Field Marshal William Joseph Slim from March 1944 onwards, using British and Indian troops and innovative tactics defeated a superior number of Japanese in Burma. Most of the Japanese enemy died.
Â This was the end of the Japanese threat to India and of Japanese dominance on the field of battle. From then on it was just a matter of time and effort to roll them back all the way to the sea.