Sahara (1943)




Director:  Zoltan Korda.

Cast:  Humphrey Bogart (Sgt. Joe Gunn), Bruce Bennett (Waco Hoyt), Lloyd Bridges (Fred Clarkson), Rex Ingram (Sgt. Tambul), J. Carrol Naish (Giuseppe), Dan Duryea (Jimmy Doyle), Richard Nugent (Capt. Jason Halliday), Patrick O'Moore (Ozzie Bates), Louis Mercier (Jean Leroux), Carl Harbord (Marty Williams), Guy Kingsford (Peter Stegman), Kurt Kreuger (Capt. Von Schletow), John Wengraf (Maj. Von Falken), Hans Schumm (Sgt. Krause), Frank Lackteen (Arab Guide), Frederic Worlock (Radio Newscaster Voice).

Bogart is an American tank commander cut off behind the lines when the British army retreats following the fall of Tobruk.

Historical Background:

In the African campaign, the British were badly beating the Italians. To the rescue comes the German African Corps under General Erwin Rommel.

spring 1941 -- British commander Gen. Archibald Wavell strips the troops in Africa of men to send to aid Greece. So, when Rommel struck from Libya, he was able to roll up the British forces. The Australian 9th Division retreated to the Tobruk fortress.

1941 May 9 -- Rommel attacks Tobruk; the attack fails. Rommel takes strategic Medauar Hill and leaves the watching of Tobruk to the Italians. He takes off after the British in Egypt, but only gets to the point occupied a year before by where Gen. Rodolfo Graziani.

Tobruk was located along the German's supply line and it had to go. The Italian XXI Corps conducted the siege of Tobruk along with the German 21st Armoured Division.

Along with the Australian 9th Infantry Division were elements of the British 33rd Tank Brigade, several Czechoslovak battalions, and the Polish Karpacka Rifle Brigade.

1941 autumn -- Gen. Wavell replaced by Gen. Claude Auchinleck who prepared an offensive to the siege of Tobruk.

1941 November 8 -- the New Zealand division surrounded Bardia and advanced to Bambut on its way to Tobruk. From Sidi Rezegh the 7th Armored Division advanced to Tobruk.

An attack was made from Tobruk to try to meet up with the other Allied troops, but it was unable to meet the main British forces. The Germans cut the break-through to Tobruk.

1941 December 7-8 -- the Allied offensive resumes.

1941 December 10 -- German troops start withdrawing westward and the Poles take back Medauar Hill. The siege was lifted.

1942 May -- Rommel launches a new offensive and rolls up the British positions. The British retreat across the desert.

1942 June -- Rommel assaults the Tobruk fortress, breaks the defenses and takes 25,000 South African soldiers captive.

The German offensive was not halted until the Battle of el-Alamein under British Gen. Montgomery. (El-Alamein was only several kilometres from Alexandria, Egypt.)


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