World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF THE DESERT: Seven Reasons

Like a wave running up a beach, the sweeping force of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's thrust toward Tobruk had by last week slowed, thinned, sunk into the sand. What worried the British was how far the next wave might go.

In Cyrenaica sunburned, sand-scoured soldiers of the Afrika Korps and the British Imperial forces did no more than skirmish on a line some 60 miles southwest of Tobruk. Both sides were busy getting a toe hold, bringing up supplies and reinforcements. Both air forces pounded away at each other's supply lines.

In the...