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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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– FIVE –ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE

‘We wanted an adventure, and nobody thought about getting killed. We were all in high spirits.’

Fritz Zimmermann, Afrikakorps gunner

On the same day that Churchill despatched his fateful ‘Full steam ahead’ message to Wavell, a small unit of German tanks came across a British patrol in the desert near Benghazi and destroyed two scout cars and a truck, capturing three British soldiers and their commanding officer in the process. A thousand miles away in Cairo, with his attention focussed on the Greek crisis, Wavell declared himself to be unperturbed by the skirmish. As Basil Liddell Hart, the ‘godfather’ of tank warfare, was to observe, ‘on normal reasoning’ the Middle East commander-in-chief was justified in reaching ...

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