World War II: The North African Campaign
|SEP 4, 2011 | 42|
Beginning in June of 1940, the North African Campaign took place over the course of three years, as Axis and Allied forces pushed each other back and forth across the desert in a series of attacks and counterattacks. Libya had been an Italian colony for several decades and British forces had been in neighboring Egypt since 1882. When Italy declared war on the Allied Nations in 1940, the two armies began skirmishing almost immediately. An Italian invasion of Egypt in September of 1940 was followed by a December counterattack where British and Indian forces captured some 130,000 Italians. Hitler's response to this loss was to send in the newly formed "Afrika Korps" led by General Erwin Rommel. Several long, brutal pushes back and forth across Libya and Egypt reached a turning point in the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942, when Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army broke out and drove Axis forces all the way from Egypt to Tunisia. In November, British and American forces landed thousands of troops across western North Africa in Operation Torch, which joined the attack, eventually helping force the surrender of all remaining Axis troops in Tunisia in May of 1943, ending the Campaign for North Africa. (This entry is Part 12 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]
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This hydroplane is part of the R.A.F. rescue service in the Middle East. It operates on the lakes of the Nile Delta for the assistance of pilots who may make forced landings in the water. Consisting of a cabin mounted on seaplane flats it is driven by an aircraft engine and propeller mounted in the stern and steered by an aircraft rudder. There are also rudders on each of the floats. The top speed of the craft is about fifteen knots. Photo taken on March 11, 1942.
(AP Photo) #
This view of an air raid on an Axis plane base at Martuba, near Derna, in Libya on July 6, 1942 was made from one of the South African planes which took part in the raid. The four sets of white streaks in the lower half show the dust of Axis planes speeding along the ground to escape as bomb bursts appear near them and in upper center.
(AP Photo) #
During his stay in the Middle East, Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid a visit to the Alamein area, meeting brigade and divisional commanders, visiting a gun site, and inspecting personnel of Australian and South African divisions, on August 19, 1942 in the western desert.
(AP Photo) #
After the defeat of Axis forces in Northern Africa, Allied troops prepared to use the territory to launch attacks on Italy and other parts of southern Europe. Here, a U.S. Air Transport Command plane, loaded with war supplies, flies over the pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, in 1943.
(AP Photo/U.S. Army) #