Fighting Far Away From Home – Allied Advance in Africa – WW2 – 072 – January 11 1941

Fighting Far Away From Home – Allied Advance in Africa – WW2 – 072 – January 11 1941

Yes, just a coffee. That’s all I want, is just a coffee. What. Sand…? What does sand have to do. So I can’t get a coffee..? Because of sand… yeah.. okay.. January 11, 1941 Germany has let Italy have a free hand in
the Mediterranean so far this war, but no longer, for Italian setbacks have seriously
concerned Adolf Hitler. This week, the Germans attack. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week, RAF and Luftwaffe bombs fell on
each other’s countries, British and Commonwealth forces attacked Bardia in North Africa, and
the Greek army made ready to advance toward the Italian held Klisura Pass in Albania. That advance happens this week. This is a major strategic point. The Greek counter attack in November and December
had taken lots of territory, but had dangerously extended supply lines and caused logistical
issues, and this Pass could very much help Greece secure its gains. The Greek 2nd Corps leads the attacks, and
after four days of fierce fighting the Greek infantry manages to take the pass. The Italian armor features the new M13 medium
tanks, but Greek artillery makes pretty short work of a number of them. Italy launches immediate counterattacks that
include the Julia and Lupi di Toscana Divisions, but since those attacks are so hastily prepared,
they not only fail, but the Greeks seriously maul the Lupi di Toscana troops, who are new
arrivals from Italy, and secure their hold on Klisura Pass. This is a pretty big victory for the Greeks,
though, and taking Klisura Pass also certainly helps with the Greek plan to capture Valona
and leave the Italians with just one Albanian port for reinforcements. That advance is not the only one continuing
this week. British and Commonwealth forces do not pause
to regroup after taking Bardia the 5th, and even during the fighting there they are working
to cut off Tobruk, the next North African goal. This they have accomplished by the 8th. Two Australian brigades, the 16th and 19th,
have come up to the south and east of Tobruk while the 4th armored Brigade and the 7th
Armored Division’s Support Group have cut the western routes from the town. You may think the Italian Air Force would
do something against these maneuvers, but they’ve lost their air base at El Adem and
are in disarray. Tobruk is not just a stepping stone along
the advance, but is a major goal. See, taking it would mean no longer relying
on the overland supply and communications route from Alexandria- nearly 700 km away. The port of Tobruk would mean a much easier
marine supply route. But until they can take control of that port,
they will have the same supply problems they’ve always had. Currently, they’re supplied by Field Supply
Depots, FSDs. They have one chain on the cost and one on
the escarpment like 80 km from it. These not only have to provide for the army’s
daily needs, but also the build up for the attack on Tobruk, and ALSO for the time when
the port is being made operational- assuming the Italians sabotage it. That’s a lot of supplies, and an increase
in the road traffic required for it and constant sandstorms make logistics a nightmare. Getting close to Tobruk also means outrunning
FSDs 8 and 9, so now 10 and 11 are being formed, some 60 km east of Tobruk. If that sounds convenient, well, David Braddock
writes about the FSD situation in “Britain’s Desert War in Egypt and Libya”. “Until this time the leap-frogging of FSDs
so that a division always had one within reach had been very successful, but the system was
now beginning to fail in items which the troops could do without for a time, but for which
a steady flow was essential if the fighting power and efficiency of the army was to be
maintained. A fundamental difficulty lay in the problem
of relating the bulk dispatch of supplies from Alexandria to the needs of changing tactical
situations… Sollum remained as the only effective sea
head… but road convoys from Matruh were still needed especially in emergencies, and
on different occasions 120,000 gallons of fuel and 16,000 rations had to be driven 200
miles (320 km) up to the army in the desert.” The 7th Armored Division is now down to around
70 cruisers and a bit under twice that light tanks. That has to be a real big concern for Field
Commander Richard O’Connor, especially planning ahead, because if and when Tobruk falls, that
armor is gonna have to lead the next advance- to Derna and Mechili, assuming it’ still
operational. And another possible wrinkle for the future:
on the 11th, Adolf Hitler issues Directive 22, to relieve Benito Mussolini and the Italian
forces. German troops will be sent to Tripoli, German
aircraft will wreak havoc on the British from Sicily, and German forces would even be ready
to move into Albania, should the be required to help an Italian offensive. But the British are about to launch yet another
offensive of their own, actually, one in East Africa. It’s more of a counter offensive really,
and the first blows are to come from Sudan. William Platt is promoted to Lieutenant-General
January 7th, and he has been given two overall objectives by Archibald Wavell. One, to simply secure Sudan, but also to remove
the threat to maritime supply routes. They are vital not just in East Africa, but
also in the western desert. Until the Red Sea can be guaranteed safe,
the US will to allow its merchant ships to use that route, and once they can and do use
it, then British shipping would be free elsewhere. Platt, from his Khartoum headquarters, considers
Kassala- the scene of a bunch of fighting in 1940, his target. Terrain and weather are going to be major
issues in this region. The 4th Indian Division, which saw plenty
of action a few weeks ago at Sidi Barrani, has been transferred to Platt, so he will
have two Indian divisions- the 5th as well, a company of infantry tanks, and a battery
of howitzers (Abyssinian Campaigns). He will be able to field about 15,000 troops. The 4th is arriving by two routes, the Red
Sea and the Nile. On the 7th, part of the force arrives at Port
Sudan the rest is soon to come. But while there’s no fighting there yet,
there is this week far to the east, where tensions have been building for awhile. On the 5th, full-scale fighting breaks out
between the Chinese Communist New 4th Army and the Chinese Nationalists 40th Division
and continues for days. Each side blames the other for hostilities. Xiang Ying is the overall commander of the
Communist forces, with General Ye Ting under him, but he is nowhere to be found for much
of this week, turning up on the 10th and telling party headquarters that he had been surrounded
and was trying to find a way out with a small party of men. Headquarters calls him a coward. However, even with him back, the Nationalists
have the advantage, and the Communist forces take some 9,000 casualties. Tensions also flare into violence to the southwest
this week. On the 5th, after a report that French Indochinese
forces had attacked the Thai border town Aranyaprathet, two of the 4 Thai armies, the Burapha and
Isan, attack Laos and Cambodia, which are French Proptectorates. Thai forces overrun the border regions in
Laos pretty quickly, brushing aside opposition, but the French offer stiffer resistance in
Cambodia and the fighting continues as the Thai forces don’t advance too far beyond
the border. Germany is also beginning something this week. On the 10th, German planes attack an Allied
Mediterranean shipping convoy. Among other actions, they damage the British
Carrier Illustrious. This is the first German action in the Mediterranean,
but shows that the Luftwaffe must now be reckoned with in the region. The Illustrious is pretty much the Axis’
top shipping target since its role in the Battle of Taranto two months ago had given
the British Mediterranean Naval Supremacy. The Luftwaffe has been even running mock attacks
on it to prepare for the real thing. So now with Italian SM 79s drawing away the
Illustrious’ planes, around ten Stuka dive bombers attack the carrier unopposed, scoring
six hits. The Illustrious heads for harbor in Malta,
having taken some pretty heavy damage and 126 crew killed. Thing is, British military intel had told
the Air Ministry of the Luftwaffe’s presence on Sicily last week, but they didn’t tell
the Admiralty, and if they had then that whole convoy operation- Operation Excess- would
likely not have sailed within range of the dive bombers. They fly again on the 11th at the end of the
week, and damage the light cruiser Southampton so badly that it is scuttled. The engineers at the Grand Harbor in Malta
work to repair the Illustrious. The British will withdraw their heavy naval
units from the central Mediterranean based on what the enemy’s land based aircraft
can accomplish. Malta’s agony is just beginning as well. Also in the skies this week, in Britain on
the 11th, 57 people are killed and 69 injured when a bomb drops just outside the Bank of
England, destroying the tube station below and creating a 120 foot wide crater. Sources do differ slightly on the exact number
of people killed. And here are two notes to end the week. On the 10th the Lend-Lease act is introduced
in Congress in the United States. This aims to circumvent the restrictions on
and problems with selling military supplies to Britain by “lending” or “leasing”
them instead. Also on the 10th, the German-Soviet Border
and commercial agreement is signed. This is sort of a continuation of their 1939
pact and settles some border issues and provides for economic relations between the two. And the week ends, with the Greeks getting
a good foothold in Albania, the British planning for one in North Africa and another in East
Africa, infighting in China, French and Thai forces fighting in Laos and Cambodia, and
action in the Mediterranean that may have large long term strategic effects. Also this week, on the 6th – US President
Franklin Roosevelt speaks of the four essential freedoms on which the future should be founded:
freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God, freedom from want, and freedom
from fear. “Translated into world terms means a worldwide
reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation
will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor,
anywhere in the world.” He adds that a world like that would be “the
very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create
with the crash of the bomb.” But here’s my prediction for the near future
here in 1941: any attempt- no matter how idealistic- to try and bring forth such a world will involve
the crash of a great many bombs, more and more of them, and ever bigger and bigger. And while there are bombs falling on a great
many fronts this week, there is also plenty of action behind the frontlines: If you’d
like to learn more about the early resistance movements inside Hitler’s Nazi Germany you
can check out our War Against Humanity episode on that right here: Any minute now! Our Patron of the week is Amanda Adlem. It is thanks to Patrons like Amanda that we
can continue to make videos like this, covering the war for however long it may last so make
sure to support us on or Don’t forget to subscribe and ring the bell! See you next time!

74 thoughts on “Fighting Far Away From Home – Allied Advance in Africa – WW2 – 072 – January 11 1941

  1. It looks like all fronts are heating up this week. And that the German reaction to the British offensive in North-Africa and the Greek progress in Albania is to move more German troops southward. This week already shows how that potentially threatens Britains position in the Mediterranean. Well, just like the British and Germans, we hope to increase our manpower in 1941. Do your part and expand our community of loyal supporters and history buffs by joining the TimeGhost Army on and The war effort needs you!
    Cheers, Joram

    STAY CIVIL AND POLITE we will delete any comments with personal insults, or attacks.
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  2. Boy, am I glad the USA isn't involved in this war, we need to stay out of it. I'm sure those guys over there will resolve this soon.

  3. Your pre-show phone conversations remind me of the old Chevy Chase "Weekend Update" skits. The one where he's talking to his GF about a car ride was gold:  "No honey, it didn't look like you were napping!"

  4. I do like that one of the repeating points of the great war and ww2 is that the logistical problems arose again and again and again and how it was such an issue for simple things like say certain tools and spare parts. Really shows you how important logistics is to any fighting force that is expected to fight for anything longer then a short period.

  5. Hey Indy and Timeghost team, thanks for another great episode. 🙂

    Are you planning on doing any weapons specials with channelss like C&Rsenal, or maybe Forgotten Weapons similar to what Indy did when he worked on the Great War Channel?

    Thanks 🙂

  6. Prepared for a big storm that knocked out power for a while in Georgia (for my neighborhood at least). Glad they got it back on now so I can tune in for this video today!

  7. Don't you see? Italy is "losing" on purpose to lure Greece and Britain into a trap. Once they have them snared, they'll spring the trap and wipe them both out, conquering Greece and Egypt wit ease.

  8. I thought the lend lease act was intended to, at least in its name, lend material equipment in exchange for leases on British bases.

  9. How can those reinforcements come up the Nile? I thought it wasn't navigable once you get out of Egypt? (Which is what created the border between Sudan and Egypt in the first place)

  10. … Freedom from FEAR, Freedom from WANT, anyone read 1984? How about the SOCIALIST's healthcare questionnaire …

  11. Looks like the Afrika Korps is coming soon. Can't wait for all the Wehraboos and Rommelboos at their peak height in the comment sections.

  12. I always watch these things thinking 'when will I hear about Canada." Then I'm like… No.. no… I'm good. We can stay home…

  13. Here’s Finnish war time Substitute Coffee (Korvike kahvia) you can make it yourself. Said to taste better with whole milk.
    Toasted and mixed together. Then scooped into boiling water, like real coffee.

    1/3 of rye grains
    2/3 wheat grain
    a little butter

  14. from his cartoon headquarters…… oh, Khartoum
    That Roosevelt speech. How would Roosevelt think we're doing now on those freedoms? If he'd glimpsed the world today, America today, who would he think had won the war?

  15. I would like to hear more about the Franco-Thai War mentioned in this episode more in either a special feature episode or at the very least, a OOTF episode. Never heard of it until now, very interesting

  16. Did anyone else’s video start with, “Hello….I’m Patrick Steward. Did you know that 70 million people have had to leave their homes due to war” Then press skip after the 5 second ad wait. Then, “Sand? You’re telling me I can’t get coffee because of sand?!”

  17. A quick google-fu showed me some pronunciations for Aranyaprathet อรัญประเทศ are quite…not good.
    I looked around for clip from Thai TV. This should do. Within first 30 sec.

  18. Sand in your coffee and tea, old boy. Fortunately I've heard the army had plenty of whiskey. Seriously, to their credit, the British army took water rations very seriously.

  19. This is one of the coolest concepts for series on any platform I’ve ever seen, and the amount of dedication it takes for you to continue it every single week is amazing, especially with all this interesting information about every single front, bravo.

  20. Well im becoming a soldier in 10 days and im concerned. Then i watch the Greek army walking the mountains in the winter and realize im a p*ssy and will ashame my grandfathers. 😂 .

  21. Hey guys, I have not watched this show called World War II, but I get the feeling Italy is the comedic relief character.

  22. Funfact idea for this summer's script.
    In the strange things of this war, there's an event in July 1941 to make a thematic about the society of the Templars of Jerusalem, all German, pro-NS and a lot of them were sent to prison camps in Australia.

  23. Why is the vocal compressed so much, it's NOT nice to listen to.

    Both the first and now the second world war series you make is very good. But the sound engineer, ruining the experience .
    What was wrong with the sound of the great war? nothing

  24. Well, that was a surprise. Normally I lurk and read the comments but being called out as a patron I have to say still enjoying the output and dedication of the team to bring it to us all. I can still remember being recommended to follow the FWW series from another history channel when we'd all thought it would be over by Christmas. raises glass

  25. Soon we reach the Orks favorite part of World War II: the introduction of DAK-ka! Orks says Germans could have won the war if only they had more DAK-ka! (Also, if they had painted all their planes like the Red Baron's.)

  26. I live in Orkney come and do a special in the centre of the UK's navy for both world wars where war history can easily be seen bought and found we even have American civil war defences and Napoleonic backgrounds !!!!

  27. Per your opening sentence: Wouldn't it just have saved a lot of time and money if the Germans had of subcontracted the bombing of Britain to the RAF and the British, likewise, the bombing of Germany to the Luftwaffe. That would have been much more in line with the traditional German passion for efficiency and economy and the British would have had an early taste of Thatcherite free market solutions to areas the Government was clearly not providing dynamic, flexible or cost effective solutions.

    You gotta admit, it makes perfect sense.

  28. Interesting that American President Roosevelt wanted to promote less weapons for all countries. Fate had different plans apparently. As the Americans have the MOST weapons of any country in the world and spend a tremendous amount from GDP on military. Hmmmmm….

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