Italian troops taken by the Western Desert Force in December 1940, march in to captivity.
War in the Desert!
 
 
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12/02/1940
Anthony Eden greets the first Australian and New Zealand troops arriving in Suez.
 
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11/06/1940 South Africa declares war on Italy. RAF bomb airfields and petrol dumps in Italian East Africa and Libya. British armoured cars cross into Libya from Egypt and ambush a number of Italian trucks near Fort Capuzzo. Italian aircraft bomb Aden and Port Sudan.
12/06/1940 RAF bomb docks in Tobruk, Libya.
14/06/1940 Spanish troops enter Tangier. British troops capture Fort Capuzzo and Maddalena, destroy the fixed guns and emplacements and then retire back to Egypt.
22/06/1940 Italians bomb Alexandria, Egypt.
26/06/1940 Turkey announces that she will stay out of the war.
27/06/1940 French C-in-C in Syria accepts armistice terms.
28/06/1940 Marshal Balbo, the Governor-General of Libya is killed when his plane is shot down by another Italian aircraft.
 
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01/07/1940 Marshal Balbo's replacement, Marshal Graziani, is appointed as C-in-C of the Italian forces in Libya.
04/07/1940 Italian bombers raid Alexandria. Italian forces attack from Abyssinia and Eritrea and capture the British outposts of Kassala and Gallabat on the Sudanese border.
13/07/1940 Italians attack British garrison at Moyale in Abyssinia.
25/07/1940 Italy bombs the British naval base at Alexandria and the base at Haifa.
 
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02/08/1940 Italy reported to be massing troops on Libya-Egypt border.
04/08/1940 The Italians begin their invasion of British Somaliland. Using some 25,000 troops, they push the small British garrison back towards the port of Berbera.
05/08/1940 The Italian air force raids Berbera, Aden, Burao and Zeila. Italian troops In Italian Somaliland then occupy Zeila, thereby sealing the border between French and British Somaliland and opening up the coastal track to Berbera.
06/08/1940 Italian forces reach Odweina in British Somaliland. Battles at Tug Argan and at Hargeisa.
09/08/1940 Italian ground forces make slow progress in British Somaliland. Both the Italians and the British conduct air raids against each other.
17/08/1940 British warships bombard Italian ports in Libya. The 5th Indian Division is deployed to the defence of Sudan.
18/08/1940 The last of the British rearguard in British Somaliland slip away in darkness, race into Berbera and embark on the morning. British bombers attack Italian units at Laferug and the airfield at Addis Abeba. Italian aircraft attack Berbera, but there are no more military targets.
19/08/1940 Mussolini orders Marshal Graziani to invade Egypt. Italian troops enter the Port of Berbera, the capital of British Somaliland, where they are welcomed by strafing RAF Blenheims. British transport 5,300-5,700 combat troops and 1,000 civilians to Aden, Yemen. August 5-19, British ground losses were 38 KIA, 102 wounded and 120 missing. RAF flew 184 sorties, dropped 60 tons of bombs, lost 7 aircraft destroyed and 10 badly damaged, lost 12 aircrew KIA and 3 wounded. Italian losses were 465 KIA, 1530 wounded and 34 missing.
22/08/1940 Churchill dispatches a heavily armed convoy with 150 tanks to reinforce the middle east.
 
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09/09/1940 Italians bomb Tel Avis, killing 111 people.
13/09/1940 5 Italian divisions and 200 tanks in Cyrenaica under Marshal Graziani, cross the Libyan/Egyptian border and advance toward Sidi Barrani in Egypt. The 7th Armoured and 4th Indian Divisions have orders to withdraw as far as Mersa Matruh and then stand and fight.
16/09/1940 Italian advance in Egypt continues as they capture Sidi Barrani, 60 miles from frontier. At this point the Italians halt their offensive and begin to construct a number of fortified camps.
21/09/1940 Wavell, orders planning to begin for a British counter-attack against the Italians, with the aim of driving them out of eastern Libya and capturing Tobruk.
23/09/1940 An British/Free French attempt to capture Dakar in Vichy French West Africa fails when the staunchly pro Vichy garrison fights back, inflicting damage on the invasion fleet, causing it to abort.
24/09/1940 The convoy of 150 tanks dispatched by Churchill on the 22nd August, arrives at Port Said in Egypt.
25/09/1940 An attack by Free French forces landed by ships of the Royal Navy against the west African port of Dakar is repulsed by Vichy French troops.
 
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26/11/1940
The Western Desert Force, begins Training Exercise No.1. This was a dress rehearsal for 'Operation Compass'. Surprise was vital and so not even the troops involved were told of the rehearsals significance.
 
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06/12/1940 The Western Desert Force, begins Training Exercise No.2. This was a 60 mile approach march to their concentration point, designated Piccadilly, approximately 20 miles south of Maktila.
08/12/1940 The Western Desert Force is now fully concentrated for 'Operation Compass'.
09/12/1940 The Western Desert Force which is 30,000 strong and under the command of Wavell takes to the offensive 'Operation Compass'. The 4th Indian division captures the Italian camps at Nibeiwa, Tumar East and West, while the 7th Armoured drives south of the camps at Sofafi and Rabia and turns north towards Buq Buq on the coast road. As column also advances along the coast road from Mersa Matruh towards Maktila as British warships bombard both Maktila and Sidi Barrani.
10/12/1940 Sidi Barrani is surrounded. Italian troops from the camps at Sofafi and Rabia flee west as the 7th Armoured divisions thrust threaten to encircle them.
11/12/1940 Sidi Barrani is captured along with over 20,000 Italians, bringing the total captured to nearly 38,000 in 2 days, along with 237 guns and 73 tanks. At this time, Wavell decides to withdraw the 4th Indian Division and send it to the Sudan. It will be replaced by the 6th Australian Division, although it will take some days for it to be ready.
17/12/1940 While pursuing the retreating Italians, the British forces in North Africa take Sollum, Fort Capuzzo and several other crucial Italian defensive positions. They also capture another 38,000 Italians along the way.
19/12/1940 Mussolini requests German assistance for his hard-pressed troops in Cyrenaica, asking for a Panzer Division, Luftwaffe units and various logistical support.
20/12/1940 No Italian troops are now left on Egyptian soil, except as prisoners.
21/12/1940 Bardia is surrounded by the 6th Australian Division, although the Italians are determined to fight it out.
 
 
 
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