Libya / Bir Hakeim; was it really important?

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Libya / Bir Hakeim; was it really important?

Beitragvon Kuno » 29/12/2008, 17:12

Libya / Bir Hakeim; was it really important?

I am sure that all forum members are more or less aware what happened around Bir Hakeim... not worth to repeat it hear in detail.

However, just yesterday I read in a book about the French Foreign Legion that Bir hakeim was a "French Victory". First of all, it is a fact that the French would not have been able to hold out, if they would not have been constantly supplied by Commonwealth units (what is also a sliiiiiight indication that the place was somehow not under siege) and second - the French had finally to withdraw - so, as well the Axis may claim it as their victory. Fact remains that the place was hold against the Axis much longer than expected by the own and the enemy's leaders.

But now my actual question: What was the real importance of the battle for Bir Hakeim in respect of the Axis attack? The French were in fact not able to really harrass the enemy advance but were more or less only a disturbing subject; maybe comparable to Tobruk a year earlier.

Would like to read your opinion...
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Beitragvon Andreas » 29/12/2008, 19:24

Wıth hindsight or seen from the Allied point of view - no. But that does not mean that it appeared the same to the German leadership duriıng those days.

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Beitragvon Kuno » 29/12/2008, 21:19

Would say that the Germans at least did not "like" it ;-) Do I understand you correct that you say that it was not important for the Allies?
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Beitragvon robc » 30/12/2008, 16:16

Don't really know but don't think so. But the French regard it as one of their military milestones of WW2, like the conquest of Kufra etc. You should see the Museum of the Navy troops (Troupes de Marine) in Fréjus, France (between Marseille and Nice), and how they talk about Bir Hakeim and their efforts...
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Beitragvon Andreas » 30/12/2008, 16:43

Kuno hat geschrieben:Would say that the Germans at least did not "like" it ;-) Do I understand you correct that you say that it was not important for the Allies?


It was very important for the Allies that Rommel wasted time and effort on Bir Hakeim. :wink:

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Beitragvon Kuno » 30/12/2008, 18:18

I thought the Axis operations were disturbed for other reasons, they could not properly advance through the minefields and therefore had no more supplies for the fighting troops. Therefore they had to return... am not aware about the details now but would say that if BH would have been ignored, the French could not have done much harm from their positions...
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Beitragvon Andreas » 3/1/2009, 23:09

By the time they got round to really dealing with Bir Hakeim the minefield problem no longer existed.

BH could have been ignored.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lQcv5DesWpIC

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Beitragvon Kuno » 4/1/2009, 06:49

Do I remember correct that the French were ordered by the Allied HQ to withdraw (because the position was no longer of a strategic value?) but that General Koenig had refused to do so?
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Beitragvon Andreas » 4/1/2009, 14:05

I don't think so.

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Beitragvon 13emeDBLE » 7/1/2009, 12:18

Hello,

Bir Hacheim was a french political victory, showing to the World that Free French was an effective force.
It had a very big impact in Vichy's France and in North Africa.
Except this propaganda and political real value, the military aspect of Bir Hacheim was a bit more balanced.
First, the french's resistance (the supply was brought by Allied, and also by french "flying" columns) gave to Ritchie a big chance to won the battle. But British failed completely to crush the "kessel".
Second Bir Hacheim was also a big Air Battle, allowing Desert Air Force to fix and smash Axis's bombers. Before and after, the Fliegerfuhrer afrika used to have the air superiority, but not during the B.H. battle.
and third, Bir Hacheim was finally evacuated, and Axis didn't succeed to take it by force. So if the ground was hold by Axis, it was not thanks to weapons and fightings.
In conclusion, Bir Hacheim was a missed opportunity to change the course of the battle for the Allied. So strategically, it is not a victory for the Allied, but tactically and politically, it is a a great event in the french rebirth after the fall of june 40 (for the first time after Hannut-Gembloux, and Voreppe, french held on german Panzer-division).
regards,
CM
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Beitragvon Kuno » 7/1/2009, 13:24

Appreciate your statement, Cedric!
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