Major Ground Commands and Commanders

Here is a list of the major (above divisional level) ground force commands, and who was in charge of them on 18 November 41 or when they were established.


  • Comando Supremo – Mussolini, Ugo Cavallero
  • German Forces in the Mediterranean – Albert Kesselring (from Dec 41)
  • Axis forces in Africa – Ettore Bastico
  • Panzergruppe Afrika – Erwin Rommel (from end of January 42 redesignated Panzerarmee Afrika)
  • Deutsches Afrika Korps – Ludwig Cruewell
  • Corpo Armata di Manovra – Gastone Gambarra
  • XXI. Corpo Armata – Enea Navarrini
  • X. Corpo Armata – ? (from ?)
  • Commonwealth

  • Commonwealth Middle East – Sir Claude Achinleck
  • 8th Army – Sir Alan Cunningham (from 24 November Neil Ritchie)
  • XXX Corps – Willoughbie Norrie
  • XIII Corps – Reade Godwin-Austen
  • Tobruk Fortress – Ronald Scobie
  • 4 thoughts on “Major Ground Commands and Commanders

    1. I think Auchinleck informally fired Cunningham late afternoon on 24 November, after an outright staff mutiny (Galloway + Belchem) prevented C. from precipitating a catastrophic rout by sending out a break-off-the-battle-and-retreat order; that’s how close R’s oft-criticized “Dash to the Wire” came to winning the battle, and maybe a whole lot more more. Eve Curie, who was in the tent with Coningham and Auchinleck at the time, has a searing account on this. Then Auchinleck himself ran things for a day, and back to Cairo on 25th, and appoints Ritchie on 26th. Nothing about this vital mutiny in the OH (Med and ME, Vol. III, pp. 54-61) or anywhere else, all of which have a merely “worried” Cunningham calling in Auchinleck and Auchinleck “reluctantly” superseding him on the 26th. In other words, the Official Version has the pivot point of CRUSADER…completely wrong.


    2. What made Auchinleck choose Cunningham? A gunner with no armour experience – were there no corps commanders in UK with at least training experience of commanding armour?



      • Hi Tom, sorry I missed this one. Cunningham was chosen because of his performance in East Africa. He was supposed to have one of the most experienced armour commanders as GOC 30 Corps with him, Major-General Pope ( Furthermore, it is in my view likely that Brigadier Russell, CO of 7 Armoured Brigade who was also killed in the crash, was better qualified for his job than Brigadier Davy, who took over from him.

        All the best



    3. Andreas,
      East Africa performance? But what about his performance? Not a tank in sight, nor a huge amount of fighting on the Kenya front from what I understand. I guess he was as good a punt as any other Britsh commander at the time but why not make Norrie or Godwin Austen the Army Commander and Cunningham a Corps Commander?




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