The Amphibious Landing Scare of 1941

There has been a suggestion that the attack on Tobruk planned for 21 November 41, but cancelled because of CRUSADER, contained an amphibious landing element (see e.g. this thread at the Comando Supremo forum), similar to Operation Venezia, the attack on the Gazala position in May 42 (see here for Kampfgruppe Hecker). The evidence on which this is based is a sentence in Hinsley’s British Intelligence in World War II, Vol.II, the official history.

Having looked at the relevant evidence on the Axis side, I must say I can not find anything showing such a plan.  I did however find that elements of the Tobruk garrison were alerted to the possibility of such a landing on 16 November (e.g. D Squadron 7 RTR).  So this leaves us with evidence from the British side that such an attack was planned, but no evidence from the Axis side to that effect.

My conclusion is therefore that this was a real British scare, but not a real Axis plan. If that conclusion is correct, I find it baffling that the British official history would repeat such a claim, given that access to German plans could have been had quite easily for the writers. But I would be interested if anyone has any evidence that this was a real plan.

2 thoughts on “The Amphibious Landing Scare of 1941

  1. Well, you are right as no amphibious attack was planned by Axis forces for the Tobruk’s assault of november 41.

    This attack will be very similar with the australian’s attack of january 41, and also with Axis’s attack of june 42.

    Last words : the units for the amphibious landing of Gazala (operation Theseus is the namecode, the code “Venezia” was only for a variant of this operation activated during the initial move of Panzergruppe Afrika) were not in Mediterranean area in november 1941.

    Regards,

    CM

    • Salut Cedric

      Thanks for the correction. I do believe however that the San Marco marines battalion arrived in North Africa in November? Or have I got that wrong?

      All the best

      Andreas

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