Well, at least that is what I can make out of C’s handwriting. His full comment is ‘I incline to the view that the admirals views are wild’, but I am not 100% certain about the last word. It is his comment on a piece of intel submitted to him, titled ‘Italian appreciation on the situation in LIBYA 27th November’. This itself is a misnomer, and I think C got it, since it is not an official appreciation, but the view of one, albeit high-ranking naval officer on the ground campaign. Still, the Italian admiral was not far off the established opinion. Only five days later Panzergruppe HQ declared victory – read at this link!
Here is the full text:
Mediterranean Military Operations
At Cyrene during the evening of 27/11 source saw the following naval document, signed by Admiral Mateucci giving the Italian impressions of the situation:-
Axis front Sidi Amar (sic!) – Bardia is consolidated and quiet at present. Three British divisions, which were heavily engaged there, would appear to have retired to the eastward, for refitting (?). Concentrating the major part of their available forces, the British have opened a narrow breach through our forces disposed for the siege of Tobruk, joining up at Belhamedi. However, from this morning, 3 Axis armoured divisions from the Bardia area are advancing fighting, towards the westward. The British have had, as their dominating objective, the union with the forces besieged at Tobruk while the general shape of the battle has been characterised by the broad maneuvre. First towards the east, and now towards the west of the Axis armoured division.
Let’s go through this with the benefit of hindsight. At this point, out of three divisions and three independent brigades, only 7th Armoured had pulled back (what was left of it), but not to the east, mostly to the south, as had the South African 1st Brigade, while 5th had ceased to exist. 4th Indian Division was still besieging the frontier, and the New Zealand Division was busy attacking westward. Of course, it was the failure by the Axis commanders to realise this which helped to win the battle for the Commonwealth.
If anyone knows which position the good Admiral held, I would be very interested.
According to Rich, “C” was Lieutenant Colonel Sir Stewart Menzies, and the position of “C” was the model for Ian Fleming’s “M”.