This is from NARA, but their caption reads it is from 24 January or November 1941 “General Rommel bei der 15. Panzer-Division zwischen Tobruk und Sidi Omar. General Rommel with the 15th Panzer Division between Tobruk and Sidi Omar. Libya, January or November 24,1941.: ca. 1946 – ca. 1946”.
Let’s assume they would mean 24 January 1942, not 41 (since 1941 is clearly not possible), and that they were not sure about the location, the context of the picture would change dramatically. In the first case it would be Rommel off to one of the biggest mistakes he made in the war, the “dash to the wire” after winning the battle of Totensonntag on Sidi Rezegh airfield, while in the second it would be him off to pull victory from the teeth of defeat in the second conquest of Cyrenaica.
Of course, if the location is correct, it can only be 24 November 41.
It certainly looks like a winter picture, but which month is it? Does anyone know?
From US NARA Digital Archive Site
Cédric found this site, which is well worth going through. These are pictures taken by a soldier of the 1st Engineer Regiment of the Italian army, first on the French border, and later in North Africa. Some very interesting pictures of the retreat in December 1941.
Italian captions only, but maybe automatic translation helps…
One reason generally given for the failure by the Axis air forces to engage, or even just recognise the start of the attack on 18 November is the weather. Violent rain storms lashed the North African coast on the days before the attack started, but they fell harder on the Axis landing grounds in the west, making operations there impossible, and in some cases drowning personnel and destroying equipment, where Wadis had been used as camp or storage sites.
While the runways got back into operation relatively quickly (they could be used on 18 November, provided care was taken), the more important impact was probably on communications, which had been completely destroyed by the floods.
The IWM photo collection has an interesting picture I came across today, showing a Blenheim IV on Gambut airfield, maybe in December or January. It shows quite well the extent of water on the field, this time of course coming from later winter storms:
The second picture shows RAF personnel dealing with the rain – myguess is that it belongs to the same time-frame:
At the start of operation CRUSADER Gambut was a major Axis landing ground, but that changed relatively quickly, and it would be June 42 before the Axis forces would conquer it again.