Alamain

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
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aurora
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Re: Alamain

Postby aurora » Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:33 am

The Duke of Aosta was, I admit- a complete oversight on my part.He himself commanded the 7,000 Italians at the mountain fortress of Amba Alagi. With his water supply compromised, surrounded, and besieged by 9,000 British and Commonwealth troops and more than 20,000 Ethiopian irregulars, the Duke of Aosta surrendered Amba Alagi on 18 May 1941. Due to the gallant resistance of the Italian garrison, the British allowed them to surrender with military honour.

When France surrendered, Mussolini ordered an invasion of Egypt, without any substantial operational plan on June 28; but the Italian army in Libya took 6 weeks for preparations. Italy's Army in Libya consisted of 236,000 men, including colonial troops. The British had 31,000 men in Egypt. The Italian 5th Army was placed at the eastern border of Libya to reinforce the 10th Army. The attack was finally launched on 13 September and by the 20th, four Italian divisions and with 200 tanks had pushed 65 miles into Egypt. Marshal Rodolfo Graziani began requesting more supplies and armour. Hitler considered providing a division but refrained from sending support pending his invasion of Russia. The British waited to see what would become of the campaign in Greece.
The Italians built a string of 7 major strongpoints that stretched 15 miles from the coast inland. During this lull in the desert war, the British sent 150 tanks to Egypt. On December 7, General Wavell moved the British 7th Armoured Division and supplies to a weak point of the defences. The attack hit the Italian between a gap in the out posts and began striking each one by one and routing the Italians. The British pushed into Bardia, then Tobruk, Derna and Benghazi. By 9 February 1941, they had advanced 500 miles and captured 130,000 prisoners, including 22 generals. The cost to the British was only 500 dead, 1373 wounded and 56 missing.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

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RF
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Re: Alamain

Postby RF » Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:36 am

Quite an outstanding victory, possibly the best individual battle feat of arms by the British and Empire forces in WW2.

Unfortunately it is largely lost within the Churchillian rhetoric of ''before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat.''
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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aurora
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Re: Alamain

Postby aurora » Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:35 pm

RF stated
"Quite an outstanding victory, possibly the best individual battle feat of arms by the British and Empire forces in WW2".

Agreed RF-marvellous coup de main by the little general. Tobruk and Derna fell next and pretty soon the whole Italian colony of Libya looked like it was going down to O'Connors thirty thousand men.
By February 1941, the Allied forces had captured 130,000 Libyan and Italian prisoners for the loss of 500 men. Probably the cleverest campaign of WWII- that nobody ever talks about. That's probably because it was merely the prelude to the main act which was the arrival of Rommel and the Afrika Korps; in to bail out the sorry Italians and not the last time neither in the war. Months later, Barbarossa had to be postponed six weeks, so the Germans could rescue the Italians yet again; this time from Greeks in the mountains after Mussolini's abortive attack on Greece.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim


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