The aim of this blog is to accompany the preparation of a complete history incorporating the Axis and Commonwealth perspectives of the Winterschlacht (Winter Battle) in North Africa, November 1941 to February 1942. The battle was known as “Operation Crusader” to the British, the 2nd (British) Offensive to the Italians, and as the ‘Winterschlacht’ (winter battle) to the Germans. The start date is universally agreed to be 17 November 1941, while the end date is 15 January for the British (thus excluding the Axis counter-offensive of late January), while it is 6 February for the Axis, including the counteroffensive.
The blog originally started on Google’s Blogger on http://crusaderproject.blogspot.com, but I was unhappy with the editing and layout there, so I moved it over to here.
Another book on the desert war? I need that as much as another hole in my head…
Hang on a minute. We know that Agar-Hamilton and Turner, Orpen, Jackson or Carver are giants on whose shoulders we can only dare hope to stand eventually. But one of the reasons why we think it will be a valuable addition is that nobody has provided an Axis viewpoint of this battle in any depth or quality in English yet, and that we will attempt as far as is practicable to integrate the questions of supply, air and intelligence into the main story of the ground battle. We will primarily tell the story from the German command perspective using contemporary source material. That in itself is new as well, as most of the history has been written (very well) from the Allied perspective, with the exception of the (never translated) Italian histories, of which I would highly recommend Montanari’s Tobruk. Regarding intel, when the standard histories were written in the 50s and 60s, ULTRA was still protected, and we believe that weaving this in with the story of the battle will add value. We think that what we have found and keep finding in the material we look at will lead to a better understanding of the battle.
What is Going to be on this Site?
As in all book projects, we will come across material we deem interesting, but which the eventual publisher will decide are not worth it. In that case, these will be published here. The same applies to info we think is interesting, but where even we admit it is too detailed.
Additionally, we will publish book reviews, and links back to interesting forum discussions related to the topic. you’ll also probably find the best link selection related to operation CRUSADER anywhere on the internet, but that’s just a guess.
Fundamentally, we hope that visitors to this site leave after having seen something they otherwise might never have found. We are very lucky that we live in accessible distance to the archives containing all this stuff, so we like to share this.
This would also be the point where I would like to thank my friends James and Jon, who are toiling in NARA and the New Zealand archives when their time permits, and both of them have been a great help. Jon is also a great source of New Zealand biographies of participants in the battle.
So, this site is the final truth on operation CRUSADER then?
Well, no, actually. It’s a site on the internet, not the Bible. This site is a work in progress, just as our research. What we post here is going to be a reflection of the best attempt we can make at description and analysis at the time of writing. Where we are not certain about something we’ll say so. Where we find later, after posting, that there are errors or omissions, we’ll correct them. This means older posts are not abandoned but are updated when we can add information (one example for this is this post, to which I have added quite a bit of additional info over time) So we won’t post things here that we know are in error, and what is posted here is going to be the result of fairly thorough research before it appears here (because that’s the kind of chaps we are), but that is no guarantee that it is right.
No need to worry, as part of our effort to make this information accessible, we have provided a site-map here:
An update seems in order, after three years and no book yet. Much has changed in terms of conception. What was meant to be a 1-volume treatment will be a 3-volume history, with a spin-off book.
The spin-off will focus on the operation of Oasis Force under Brigadier Reid. This will be authored by me, Andreas, Kuno Gross, and Roberto Chiarvetti. It will be first to publish, and appear hopefully by February 2012. This book will be self-published, due to issues in getting a fair contract from a publisher for this kind of work.
For the main volumes, I have started talking to publishers, and have one offer of contract. The publication will be in the order of Vol. III (counter-offensive), Vol. I (Main battle Sidi Rezegh/Tobruk), Vol. II (pursuit and investment and taking of Bardia/Halfaya). Publication at the earliest mid-2012, but could be pushed back to early 2013. It’s a lot of work, and I have a day-job, since writing books clearly does not suffice to pay the bills.
Current Status (09/13)
See at this link.
A Note on the Header
In case anyone is interested, one of the pictures on top is part of a painting called ‘Tank Battle on Belhamed’, by Peter McIntyre, which can be seen in all its glory here on the New Zealand War Art site: http://warart.archives.govt.nz/files/images/NCWA_00297.jpeg. The other pictures with which this alternates are also by Mr. McIntyre.
Peter McIntyre’s biography is also available on the site: http://warart.archives.govt.nz/PeterMcIntyre
I think it’s great the New Zealanders are making these available to view just like this.
Popularity (or otherwise)
In case anyone else is as sad as me, there have been about 130,000 hits on the site since 2008 (not unique), and in a normal month I now see about 3-4,000 hits. I have no idea whether that’s good or bad for a site like this. Most traffic comes from links in Wikipedia, and on forums. It appears a number of people find this site useful for their research and interests, and that’s of course great news.