On August 21, 1942, General Maitland Wilson took up his appointment as the first commander-in-chief Persia and Iraq Command (PAIC). This was the latest in a series of changes in senior appointments that had followed the military defeats of the previous two months. With the key port of Tobruk surrounded and its garrison forced to surrender after a two-day battle, the remainder of British Commonwealth forces had been pushed back into Egypt and preparations had begun in Cairo to evacuate if the worst happened. General Claude Auchinleck, commanding forces in the Middle East, eventually stabilized the defenses and the Axis advance was halted around El-Alamein, but his own position had been fatally weakened. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill travelled through Cairo en route to Moscow and a meeting with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Accompanied by the chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke, he met...

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