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Destiny in the Desert: The road to El Alamein - the Battle that Turned the Tide by Jonathan Dimbleby

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– FOUR –A CHANGE OF PLAN

‘We felt deflated and sad … We felt there must be pretty weighty factors which robbed us of a prize which to us sitting in Cairo glittered so brightly and appeared so desirable.’

‘Freddy’ de Guingand

With the Italian Tenth Army at O’Connor’s mercy, Churchill now made a fateful decision. On 24 February 1941, two days after the fall of Beda Fomm, he ordered that four of the British divisions which had helped secure Benghazi and which O’Connor hoped to lead into Tripoli should be withdrawn from the Libyan front and despatched to Greece instead. When O’Connor heard this news he was appalled. Already frustrated by Wavell’s decision two months earlier to transfer the Indian 6th Division to Eritrea, which had delayed his westward ...

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