The Conquest of North Africa

CONTENTS Chapter Pag* I. THE BATTLEGROUND OF EMPIRES- 5 North Africa through the Ages—Decisive strategic importance of North Africa and the Mediterranean—Ex tent, diversity and dram a of North African campaign. II. PRELIMINARY SKIRMISHES AND FIRST ITALIAN ATTACK ----------7 B ritain’s initial interest in .the Mediterranean and Suez as Imperial trade routes— Collapse of France required changc Bin ritain’s strategic plans in theM editerranean—Geographical and physical aspects of North Africa as a battleground—B ritish patrols active among oases and behind Italian lines—Graziani begins Italian advance into E gypt—W hy Graziani stop p ed: a favourable opportunity missed. III. WAVELL’S VICTORIOUS ADVANCE -13 W avell's plan— Capture of Nibeiwa Camp the first action—Capture of Sidi B arrani— Bug £>ug—Hal fay a Pass and Solium —Italians cleared out of Egypt losing 40,000 prisoners— W avell receives reinforcements, captures Bardia and another 40,000 prisoners—Capture ofT obruk, another 25,000 prisoners—D erna and Cyrene captured—Benghazi reached—• Critical battle of B eda Fom m :Italians’ retreat cut off—Decisive results and momentous effect of W avell’s victorious campaign. IV. HOW GREECE, CRETE AND MALTA AFFECTED THE NORTH AFRICAN CAMPAIGN -27 Defeat and evacuation of Greece—Airborne invasion of Crete—T h e epic of Malta—British N avy’s command of Mediterranean. V. THE SWINGING PENDULUM—WAVELL, AUCHIN- LECK, ROMMEL --------29 Rommel takes command of Axis forces with strong reinforcem ents—W avell driven out of Libya :stands on Egyptian border—Causes of setback and some compensating advantages— Auchinleck appointed Commander-in-Chief and prepares counter-offensive— British advance from Solium to Tobruk—Gazala Eland Agheila— Rommel heavily reinforced starts his second offensive—Axis win battles of Bir Hakeim ,"The Cauldron”, Tobruk—A uchinleck makes 3 stand a t Alamein—Rom mel is held. VI. THE, TRIUMPH OF THE EIGHTH ARMY --38 Alexander vs. Rom mel: both sides make preparations for attack—Victory of Alamein, the most critical battle of North Africa—M ontgomery breaks through—Axis armour destroyed— Rommel driven out of Egypt with enormous losses—Axis flight continues across Cyrenaica and Tripolitania— Italian North Africa completely occupied—T he new tactics which won Battle of E gypt—Perfect welding of land, air and sea forces into one weapon. VII. THE ALLIED LANDINGS IN NORTH AFRICA -49 How secret plans for occupation were inlaid U.S.A., Britain and Algiers— Huge armada lands troops on Moroccan and Algerian coasts—Opposition overcome and occupation com­pleted in three days—General G iraud’s escape from France and arrival in Algiers— Political and military grounds forD arlan’s appointment. VIII. TUNISIA THE FIRST BATTLES -56 The race for Tunisia—Axis occupies ports—Allies’ initial a ttem p tat quick reduction of Tunisia fails—E xploits of British units in their tenacious advance—Causes of failure of First Arm y’s initial cam paign—Axis exercises initiative in local attacks— Roosevelt- Churchill conferencc a t Casablanca—Commanders for final campaign appointed—Free French and G iraud forces join in and are re-equipped. IX. THE FINAL AXIS ENDEAVOUR TO HOLD TUNISIA 66 Germans advance in centre and endeavour to break through—A second Axis attempt to breakthrough on north coast fails—Allies gain initiative—Advance all along the line begins. X. ALL ALLIED ARMIES BREAKTHROUGH AND JOIN UP -..........................................................................70 Classic victory of theM areth Line—Surprise attack breaks Rom m el’s last serious resistance— M ontgom ery’s Eighth Army chases Rom m el’s Afrika Korps non-stop—T he whole front: Eighth Army, French Forces, American Army, First Army :now moves forward—I n North and West final breakthrough begins. XI. THE FINAL OVERWHELMING VICTORY -74 General offensive from all directions begins—Final attack opens—Tunis Band izerta cap­ tured—N avy and Air Force prevent evacuation— Final complete defeat of Axis Forces —Conclusion. Background of Mapt on pages 22 and 6S by courUtvofThe DAILY SKETCH.
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