Fall Of Benghazi – The Ulcer Of Vichy – 527 Days Worth Of War – February 7, 1941
– NBC News Of The World – February 7, 1941 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
527 Days since the war began, and the news from Benghazi was the British Army taking control of that Libyan objective after several weeks of back-and-forth. The fall of Benghazi was denied by Italian Radio and German radio cast doubts. But reports from London confirmed the town was now in British hands. A mobile armored force under Lieutenant-General Richard O’Connor outflanked the Italians at Beda Fomm and pursued them 500 miles back to Libya. Wavell’s offensive ended at El Agheila on 7 February 1941 with the destruction of nine Italian divisions and the capture of 130,000 men.
Meanwhile, news from mystery-shrouded Vichy was coming to light. During a reported purge of Vichy officials in December of 1940, Marshal Petain ousted Pierre Laval from the Vichy cabinet. The ouster was apparently masterminded by British agents. Admiral Darlan met with Hitler on Christmas day and returned to Paris to form a new political party determined to remove Petain whom they referred to as “The Ulcer” and reinstate Laval. But it was still a story of two countries posing as France; the Vichy one and the un-occupied one, and a move was afoot to place tighter restrictions on the otherwise free movement between the two and therefore more susceptible to disruption by outside forces.
And peace negotiations were underway between Siam and French Indo-China and it was hailed in Berlin as evidence Japan was demonstrating effective leadership in questions affecting the Far East, as they were brokering the peace deal between the two warring factions. Washington speculated the mediation was a way of Japan grabbing territory, but that remained to be seen.
And so went the 527th day of War with no confirmation of the situation in Benghazi as it was reported by NBC’s News Of The World.
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