Michael Carver’s Tobruk (1964) breaks down tank strengths on the 27th of May 1942 for the start of Rommel’s Operation Skorpion (p.167). comparing this with the chain of command from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gazala#Allies threw up some anomalies, which I had to resolve by working out the strengths for the whole of 8th Army. The task was complicated by the British habit of splitting tanks into cruiser/medium heavy tanks, and infantry tanks, as two separate groupings.
“Where’s my truck!”…. “Behind You!”*
XXX Corps [Norrie] – 167 (5) Grants, 149 (5) Stuarts**, 275 (9) Crusaders allocated as follow:
(2) Stuart, (2) Crusaders
2nd Armd Bde [Brig Briggs] – (1) Grant, (3) Crusader.
22nd Armd Bde [Brig Carr] – (1) Grant, (3) Crusader.
201st Gds Mot Bde [Brig Marriott/Johnson] –
(British) 7th Mot Bde [Brig Renton] – 2? motor rifle battalions
(Indian) 3rd Mot Bde [Brig Filose] – 3 motor rifle battalions
(Indian) 29th Inf Bde [Brig Reid] – 3 infantry battalions
1st Free French Bde [Brig Koenig] – 4 infantry battalions with supporting arms
Plus 1 Armoured Brigade (from Army Reserve) – 75 (2) Grants (s3) and 75 (2) Stuarts (s3)
*http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.a.paterson/org.htm#Apr1942 gives for an armoured division:
6 RASC companies and 4 light field ambulances, with a Divisional Workshop, and a Brigade Workshop for each brigade. This is roughly as many trucks as tanks, and gives an idea of how big the logistic tail was stretching across the desert. Even this monster was unable to sustain battle for more than a few days at a time before resupply was needed.
**Stuart tanks seemed to be popular with Artillery FOOs in armoured formations, which would easily swallow the “missing” Stuarts in the breakdown above
May 1942 GAZALA (Venezia)
- this was my original breakdown. The slight differences probably reflect Crusaders being replaced by Grants as battle losses occurred.
Tanks – 849 (28) broken down as :
Armoured cars : (10) Marmon-Herrington, (3) Humber
Cruiser : (3) M3 Honey, (10) Crusader
Medium : (1) Lee, (4) Grant
Infantry : (3) Matilda II, (7) Valentine
Tanks – 330 (11) broken down as :
Light : (2) PzII
Medium : (8) PzIIIh
Heavy : (1) PzIVe
Tanks – 228 ( 7) broken down as :
Light: (2) L6/39
Medium : (2) M11/39, (3) M13/41
The pictures show the progress made since the original post
updated January 2017