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Below: Italian attacks and Greek counteroffensives, winter 1940-41. Right: TheBritish evacuate the Greek mainland as Axis forces thrust southwards. ;s: 34 Battle of the Atlantic 1939-42 T he memory of German submarine success in World War I led the British to introduce a convoy system as soon as hostilities began. The immediate threat was less than British leaders imagined, because submarine construction had not been given high priority in the German rearmament program, and Hitler was reluctant to antagonize neutral nations by unrestricted submarine warfare.

Almost two-thirds of the ships involved failed to reach their destination, Archangel, and thousands of tons of urgently needed matériel were lost. 39 The Arctic Convoys H azardous duty fell to the men who convoyed supplies to Russia after the German invasion of June 1941. The forces of nature on the arctic run posed a threat equal to that of the Germans. Savage storms and shifting ice packs were a constant menace. In the summer months, the pack ice retreated north, and convoys could give a wider berth to enemy airfields on the Norwegian and Finnish coasts, but the long summer daylight made them vulnerable to U-boats.

The British Commander in Chief was now in a position to essay some limited counterattacks, whose targets were Italian rather than German divisions. This choice was deliberate, as it compelled Rommel to waste fuel in widespread efforts to assist his Italian cohorts. The Sabratha unit fell to the 9 Australian Division on 10-11 July, and the British recovered Tell el Eisa as a result. Larger Allied efforts were mounted in the Ruweisat Ridge area, where opposing forces grappled to an exhausted standstill.

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African-American History SparkCharts SparkNotes History and Social Sciences Series


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