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:: British markings for vehicles used in Operation Compass in the Western Desert campaign
British markings for vehicles used in Operation Compass in the Western Desert campaign
In the summer of 1940 the Italian Army invaded Egypt from Libya with a force of a quarter of a million men. Operation Compass was the offensive that was meant to drive the Italians out of Egypt. Under the command of General Wavell a British and Commonwealth force of 30,000 managed to push the Italian forces back across the border creating a rout that ended in the capture of over 200,000 Italians culminating in the battle of Beda-Fomm. This force was depleted in order to aid Greece and was subsequently pushed back by the arrival of Erwin Rommel and the German Afrikakorps to the Egyptian border and the coastal town of Tobruk was cut off behind enemy lines. In November 1941 Operation Crusader was the third, and finally successful, attempt to relieve the siege of Tobruk and to push the Germans back.
The first batch of markings for Operation Compass concentrates on the tanks in use at the time. Though the general theme is Compass, these markings were in use from the summer of 1940 to the Spring of 1941, when Rommel's first attack with the Afrikakorps took place. Within this set there are markings for 5 x Cruiser Mk IV A, 3 x Cruiser Mk I (A9), 2 x Cruiser Mk II (A10), 10 x Matilda Mk II, 2 x Morris 15-cwt (including 1 2-pdr portee), 1 x M13/40 in Australian markings. The last item, the M13/40's were captured in number during the campaign and adopted by the Australian Cavalry as a temporary mount. The Kangaroo motif was used for identification and painted on each face of the hull and turret.
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