Having read the quote by Desert Fox, I'll make this simple. Did Rommel have sufficent forces to beat the British with in reason? If so, could you please explain just the key points.
So if Rommel took Malta, at the right time, would the British of had supply problems of their own? What was the plan called to take Tobruk and Malta? And what forces would have been used by the Germans against Malta?
It also seems that the Folgore Division would have been better used against Malta.
I do not believe that Rommel ever had sufficient resources to capture Egypt. The main problem was that Hitler was focused on Lebensraum. The Western Desert was for him a sideshow.
Even had Hitler felt he been able to commit more troops, tanks, guns and aircraft to the theatre, the main problem faced by Rommel was that of supply. Everything had to be carried to the frontline by road - consuming petrol - and the more successful Rommel was, the further he extended the frontline, and so the more petrol was consumed in bringing supplies to the front.
The early capture of Malta would have made things a little easier - certainly in terms of the amount of supplies that the Axis could physically deliver to Libya - rather than the seabed of the Mediterranean - but that would not solve the problem of getting said supplies to Egypt. Places for off-loading supplies were limited - Tripoli (the only really sizeable port), Benghazi, maybe Tobruk/Bardia (depending upon where the frontline was at any given time) but east of Tobruk/Bardia? Nothing.
Would the loss of Malta have caused problems for the British? No, quite the reverse. Most supplies came via the Cape, not through the Mediterranean. Most Royal Navy losses came in supporting Malta (or Greece/Crete) not in defending Egypt. With the RN operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, in range of their own aircraft and in support of the army, they would be stronger, not weaker.
Yes, Rommel was a good commander. But he also misjudged his assignment in Africa completely. He frittered away his tanks and men on - albeit sometimes brilliant offensives - but that was not his brief. His objective was to stabilise the Italians and stop them getting kicked out of Africa.
They say all we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history; well that was true of the North African Campaign. Just as Napoleon attacked Russia while Britain was undefeated, and gave Britain a place from which to attack his forces (his back-stabbing attack on Spain in 1808?) so Hitler did the same in the Western Desert. Nowhere could the British take on the Wehrmacht and hope to win in 1941-42. But North Africa, having to be supplied overseas, was perfect for a limited British commitment. When things turned sour in the Soviet Union, Hitler could have done with every single man, every tank, every aircraft.
< Message edited by warspite1 -- 12/26/2011 10:10:06 PM >
22nd November 1944 - The British Pacific Fleet is born (temporary avatar changes to commemorate the ships and aircraft).