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Did Rommel know in advance about British movements?

 
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Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/7/2020 2:43:17 PM   
altipueri

 

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I gather the Italians stole the US codes and picked up details:

"Both sides brought up all the troops they had. Slowly but surely the British drew a ring around the Axis divisions. Nevertheless, despite all tactical successes, the onslaught of the British did not achieve decisive results. Wherever the British started an action, Rommel immediately sent forces to oppose them. He even sent a column behind the British in the direction of Halfaya and cut their line of supply. He always did the right thing at the right time.

Small wonder, for Garrulus was sending one telegram after another to Washington. He ranged all over the battle area, saw and heard everything, knew all preparations, every intention, every movement of the British forces, and he transmitted it all to the United States. The German intercept station copied each message and sent it promptly by teletype to Berlin, where it was deciphered and forwarded by the speediest possible means to Rommel. The whole thing took only a few hours. By now the cryptosystem had been completely solved.

The British were much surprised. Preparations for the offensive had been so thorough that destruction of the Axis troops in its very first phase had been considered certain. Something had not clicked. General Auchinleck, Commander in Chief in the Near East and Wavell's successor, flew from Cairo to Cunningham's headquarters and on 26 November relieved him of his post. A young general of 44 years, Ritchie, was appointed commander of the British Eighth Army. On 8 December Rommel pushed through a weak point in the British encirclement, disengaging his troops without being detected. Before the British recovered from their surprise he had escaped to the westward. On 11 December Churchill stated in the House of Commons that the Libyan campaign had not gone as expected."
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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/7/2020 2:50:36 PM   
RangerJoe


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I remember reading where the Italians broke into the American embassy in Rome and stole the American codes. An talkative American colonel in Egypt would report to Washington about the British plans. His reports were quite detailed.

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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/7/2020 3:53:18 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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Seems entirely plausible. In spite of the Italian reputation for disorganization, their intelligence service in WWII was quite competent. For instance, they correctly deduced that the target of the Operation Torch convoys was North Africa, while the Germans thought it was Sardinia or Corsica.

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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/7/2020 11:58:35 PM   
goodwoodrw


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May be they did, not as well as the Brits did of the axis movement because of Ultra.

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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/8/2020 4:58:08 AM   
IslandInland


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quote:

ORIGINAL: goodwoodrw

May be they did, not as well as the Brits did of the axis movement because of Ultra.


This.

And even if Rommel knew in advance of British plans it clearly did him and the Axis no good as they were hammered again and again until they were defeated in North Africa.

By that stage Rommel was back in Germany.


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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/8/2020 5:56:21 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: RangerJoe

I remember reading where the Italians broke into the American embassy in Rome and stole the American codes. An talkative American colonel in Egypt would report to Washington about the British plans. His reports were quite detailed.
warspite1

Yes, Colonel Fellers iirc. There is of course a lot of talk of Ultra, but the Germans benefited from codes breaks too during the war as this shows. B-Dienst had a lot of success with British naval cyphers in the early part of the war too.


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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/8/2020 7:20:36 AM   
altipueri

 

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Here's a wiki bit on the theft of the codes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_(code)

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RE: Did Rommel know in advance about British movements? - 3/16/2020 10:37:36 AM   
altipueri

 

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I'm reading Alan Moorehead's "A Year of Battle" : This was published in 1944; and is part of "African Trilogy"

Page 222: "My party had blundered into the British armoured division headquarters and the first officer I saw there was the welcome figure of Colonel Bonner Fellers, the United States military attache."

It wouldn't have been such a welcome figure if Alan had known this:

Bonner Frank Fellers (February 7, 1896 – October 7, 1973) was a U.S. Army officer who served during World War II as military attaché and psychological warfare director. He is notable as the military attaché in Egypt whose extensive transmissions of detailed British tactical information were intercepted by Axis agents and passed to German field marshal Erwin Rommel for over six months, contributing to disastrous British defeats at Gazala and Tobruk in June 1942.

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