North African campaign timeline

This is a timeline of the North African campaign.

1940

  • 10 June: The Kingdom of Italy declares war upon France and the United Kingdom[1]
  • 14 June: British forces cross from Egypt into Libya and capture Fort Capuzzo[2]
  • 16 June: The first tank battle of the North African campaign takes place, the "Engagement at Nezuet Ghirba"[2]
  • 13 September: Italian forces invade Egypt from Libya
  • 16 September: Italian forces establish front east of Sidi Barrani
  • 9 December: British and Indian forces launch Operation Compass with the Battle of Marmarica (Battle of the camps)
  • 9 December: Indian forces capture Nibeiwa with cover from British artillery
  • 9 December: British tanks and Indian troops overrun Tummar West followed by Tummar East
  • 10 December: Indian forces capture Sidi Barrani with support from British artillery
  • 11 December: British armoured forces arrived in Sofafi but Libyan and Italian divisions escaped
  • 16 December: Sollum captured by Allies

1941

  • 5 January: Bardia captured by British and Australian force
  • 22 January: Tobruk captured by British and Australian force
  • 30 January: Australians capture Derna, Libya
  • 5 February: Beda Fomm captured by British
  • 6 February;
  • 7 February: What remains of the Italian Tenth Army surrenders.
  • 9 February: Churchill orders halt to British and Australian advance at El Agheila to allow withdrawal of troops to defend Greece
  • 14 February: First units of the Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel start to arrive in Libya during Operation Sonnenblume
  • 24 March: Allied forces at El Agheila defeated; Erwin Rommel starts his advance.
  • 4 April: Australian & British forces withdraw from Benghazi; Benghazi and Msus captured by Axis.
  • 6 April: British 3rd Armored Brigade is captured in Derna
  • 8 April: British, Indian and Australian forces captured at Mechili
  • 10 April: Siege of Tobruk begins with Australian, British and Indian forces defending
  • 15 April: British forces are pushed back to Sollum on Egyptian border with Libya
  • 30 April: Australian forces lose a small part of their positions in Tobruk during the Battle of Salient, roughly a 6th of Tobruk is now held by Germans
  • 3 May: Australian counterattack at Tobruk fails
  • 15 May: British troops launch Operation Brevity to gain more territory from which to launch Operation Battleaxe later in the year[3]
  • 16 May: Italian forces attack Australian forces in Tobruk forcing them to withdraw
  • 16 May: Operation Brevity called off. Allied forces fall back onto the Halfaya Pass, captured the previous day[4]
  • 26 May: German forces launch Operation Skorpion and move up to Halfaya Pass
  • 27 May: German forces recapture Halfaya Pass; British troops are forced to withdraw[5]
  • 15 June: British and Indian troops launch Operation Battleaxe which fails
  • 5 July: Auchinleck replaces Wavell as C-in-C Middle East Command
  • 15 August: German Panzer Group Afrika activated with Rommel in Command
  • 18 September: German air raid on Cairo in which 39 Egyptian civilians are killed and nearly 100 injured, bringing condemnation against the Axis from the Arab and Muslim press. Radio Berlin later apologizes to its Arab listeners.
  • 1 October: 5th Light Division renamed 21st Panzer Division
  • 18 November: Auchinleck's offensive (Operation Crusader) begins with British, Indian, South African and New Zealander forces
  • 21 November: British armoured division defeated at Sidi Rezegh and withdraws
  • 22 November;
    • New Zealand forces attack Bir Ghirba but fail
    • Indian forces capture Sidi Omar
  • 23 November: New Zealand forces capitalize on Indian advances to wreck Afrika Korps HQ at Bir el Chleta
  • 23 November:
    • Rommel launches Panzer attacks on the British XXX Corps but faces resistance from SA, NZ and British forces
    • British and NZ forces withdraw towards Bir el Gubi
  • 25 November:
    • Panzer attack on Indian forces at Sidi Omar is repulsed
    • In the second attack in the evening, Indian forces destroy the 5th Panzer Division
  • 26 November: Ritchie replaces Cunningham as commander Eighth Army
  • 27 November: New Zealand troops at Sidi Azeiz defeated by overwhelming advance of Panzers and German infantry
  • 28 November: 15th Panzer despite being outnumbered 2:1 forces British tanks to retreat, exposing the New Zealand forces at Ed Duda on the Tobruk by-pass
  • 1 December: New Zealand troops in Sidi Rezegh suffer heavy casualties from Panzers
  • 3 December:
    • German infantry suffers big defeat at the hand of New Zealand forces on the Bardia road near Menastir
    • German forces suffer losses against Indian forces and withdraw at Capuzzo (Trigh Capuzzo)
  • 4 December:
    • NZ forces repulse German attack on Ed Duda
    • Indian forces face attrition in an uphill attempt to capture Point 174 against entrenched Italian forces without artillery support
  • 9 December: Tobruk siege relieved by Eighth Army consisting of British, Indian, New Zealand and South African forces; White Knoll captured by the Polish Carpathian Brigade from the elements of the Italian Brescia Division
  • 13 December;
    • 8th Army attacks Gazala line
    • NZ forces stopped at Alem Hamza
    • Indian forces take Point 204
    • Indian infantry face Afrika Korps and against heavy odds destroy 15 of 39 Panzers
  • 14 December: Indian troops repel repeated Panzer attacks on Point 204
  • 15 December: German advance overruns British forces en route to Point 204 but Indian forces at Point 204 hold on
  • 16 December: Rommel facing reduced Panzer numbers orders withdrawal from the Gazala line
  • 24 December: British forces capture Benghazi
  • 25 December: Agedabia reached by the Allies
  • 27 December: Rommel inflicts many losses on British tanks who have to withdraw allowing Rommel to fall back to El Agheila
  • 31 December: Front lines return to El Agheila

1942

  • 21 January;
  • 23 January: Agedabia captured by Axis forces
  • 29 January: Benghazi captured by Axis forces
  • 4 February: Front line established between Gazala and Bir Hakeim
  • 26 May: Axis forces assault the Gazala line, the Battle of Gazala and Battle of Bir Hakeim begins
  • 11 June: Axis forces begin offensive from "the Cauldron" position
  • 13 June: "Black Saturday". Axis inflicts heavy defeat on British armoured divisions
  • 21 June: Tobruk captured by Axis forces
  • 28 June: Mersa Matruh, Egypt, falls to Rommel.
  • 29 June: U.S. reports from Egypt of British military operations stop using the compromised "Black Code" which the Axis were reading.
  • 30 June: Axis forces reach El Alamein and attack the Allied defences, the First Battle of El Alamein begins
  • 4 July: First Battle of El Alamein continues as Axis digs in and Eighth Army launch series of attacks
  • 31 July: Auchinleck calls off offensive activities to allow Eighth Army to regroup and resupply
  • 13 August: Alexander and Montgomery take command respectively of Middle East Command and Eighth Army
  • 30 August: Rommel launches unsuccessful Battle of Alam el Halfa
  • 13 September: Allies launch unsuccessful Operation Agreement, a large scale raid directed against Tobruk
  • 23 October: Montgomery launches Operation Lightfoot starting the Second Battle of El Alamein
  • 5 November: Axis lines at El Alamein broken
  • 8 November: Operation Torch is launched under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied forces land in Morocco and Algeria.
  • 9 November: Sidi Barrani captured by Eighth Army
  • 13 November: Tobruk captured by Eighth Army
  • 15 November: British forces capture Derna in Libya.
  • 17 November: First Army (Operation Torch's Eastern Task Force) and Axis meet at Djebel Abiod in Tunisia
  • 20 November: Benghazi captured by Eighth Army
  • 27 November: First Army advance halted between Terbourba and Djedeida, 12 miles from Tunis, by Axis counterattack
  • 10 December: First Army front line pushed back to defensive positions east of Medjez el Bab
  • 12 December: Eighth Army starts an offensive towards Axis forces near El Agheila
  • 22 December: First Army starts three-day offensive towards Tebourba which fails
  • 25 December: Sirte captured by Eighth Army

1943

  • 23 January: Tripoli captured by British Eighth Army
  • 30 January: Axis forces capture Faïd pass in central Tunisia
  • 4 February: Axis forces in Libya retreat to Tunisian border south of the Mareth Line
  • 14 February: Axis advance from Faïd to launch Battle of Sidi Bou Zid and enter Sbeitla two days later
  • 19 February: Battle of Kasserine Pass launched by Axis forces
  • 6 March: Axis launch Operation Capri against Eighth Army at Medenine but lose 55 tanks. Patton takes command of II Corps.
  • 16 March: Battle of the Mareth Line begins[7]
  • 19 March: Eighth Army launches Operation Pugilist
  • 23 March: U.S. II Corps emerge from Kasserine to match the Axis at Battle of El Guettar. Battle of Mareth ends.[7]
  • 26 March: Eighth Army launch Operation Supercharge II outflanking and making the Axis position at Mareth untenable. Battle of Tebaga Gap takes place.[8]
  • 6 April: Right wing of First Army links with Eighth Army. Battle of Wadi Akarit takes place.
  • 22 April: Allied forces launch Operation Vulcan
  • 6 May: Allied forces launch Operation Strike[9]
  • 7 May: British enter Tunis, Americans enter Bizerte
  • 13 May: Axis Powers surrender in Tunisia.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Playfair v.I, p. 109
  2. ^ a b Paterson, Ian A. "History of the British 7th Armoured Division: Engagements – 1940". Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  3. ^ Playfair v. II, pp. 159–160
  4. ^ Playfair v.II, p. 162
  5. ^ Rommel, p. 137
  6. ^ MESSERSCHMITT Bf 108 – 'TAIFUN'. Retrieved 29 April 2011
  7. ^ a b Playfair, v.IV Map 31
  8. ^ Playfair, v.IV Map 34
  9. ^ Playfair, v.IV Pg 446

References

  • Paterson, Ian A. "History of the British 7th Armoured Division: Engagements – 1940". Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; with Stitt RN, Commander G.M.S.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C. & Toomer, Air Vice-Marshal S.E. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1954]. Butler, J.R.M (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I The Early Successes Against Italy (to May 1941). History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; with Flynn R.N., Captain F.C.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C. & Toomer, Air Vice-Marshal S.E. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1956]. Butler, J.R.M (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume II The Germans come to the help of their Ally (1941). History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-066-1.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; and Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn R.N., Captain F.C. & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1966]. Butler, J.R.M (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume IV: The Destruction of the Axis Forces in Africa. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-068-8.
  • Rommel, Erwin; Liddell-Hart, Basil (editor) (1982) [1953]. The Rommel Papers. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80157-4.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Battle of Alam el Halfa

The Battle of Alam el Halfa took place between 30 August and 5 September 1942 south of El Alamein during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. Panzerarmee Afrika (Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel), attempted an envelopment of the British Eighth Army (Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery). In Unternehmen Brandung (Operation Surf), the last big Axis offensive of the Western Desert Campaign, Rommel intended to defeat the Eighth Army before Allied reinforcements arrived.

Montgomery knew of Axis intentions through Ultra signals intercepts and left a gap in the southern sector of the front, knowing that Rommel planned to attack there and deployed the bulk of his armour and artillery around Alam el Halfa Ridge, 20 miles (32 km) behind the front. The tanks were to be used as anti-tank guns, remaining in their defensive positions on the ridge. When Axis attacks on the ridge failed and short on supplies, Rommel ordered a withdrawal. The 2nd New Zealand Division conducted Operation Beresford against Italian positions, which was a costly failure.

Montgomery chose not to exploit his defensive victory, preferring to continue the methodical build up of strength for his autumn offensive, the Second Battle of El Alamein. Rommel claimed that British air superiority determined the result, being unaware of British Ultra intelligence. Rommel adapted to the increasing Allied dominance in the air by keeping his forces dispersed. With the failure at Alam Halfa failure, the Axis forces in Africa lost the initiative and Axis strategic aims in Africa were no longer possible.

Battle of El Guettar

The Battle of El Guettar was a battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign of World War II, fought between elements of the Army Group Africa under General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, along with Italian First Army under General Giovanni Messe, and U.S. II Corps under Lieutenant General George Patton in south-central Tunisia. It was the first battle in which U.S. forces were able to defeat the experienced German tank units, but the followup to the battle was inconclusive.

Battle of Gazala

The Battle of Gazala (near the modern town of Ayn al Ghazālah عين الغزالة) was fought during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War, west of the port of Tobruk in Libya, from 26 May to 21 June 1942. Axis troops of the Panzerarmee Afrika (Generaloberst Erwin Rommel) consisted of German and Italian units. Allied forces (Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Sir Claude Auchinleck) were mainly British, Indian, South African and Free French.

Rommel secretly had the advantage of detailed intelligence against the Allies, from an unwitting breach of communications security by Bonner Fellers, a military attaché at the US embassy in Cairo. Secret data on British "strengths, positions, losses, reinforcements, supply, situation, plans, morale etc" was read by German signals intelligence in Africa within eight hours of their transmission to Washington. This calamitous situation endured from December 1941 until 29 June 1942 (after the fall of Tobruk), when the US Black Code was replaced.The Axis distracted the British with a decoy attack in the north and made the main attack round the southern flank of the Gazala position. The advance succeeded but the defence of Bir Hakeim by the French garrison at the southern end of the line, left the Axis with a long and vulnerable supply route around the Gazala line. Rommel retired to an area known as the cauldron, a defensive position backing onto British minefields, forming a base in the midst of the British defences. Italian engineers lifted mines from the west side of the minefields to create a supply route through to the Axis side.

The Eighth Army counter-attack, Operation Aberdeen, was poorly co-ordinated and defeated in detail; many tanks were lost and the Axis were able to regain the initiative. The British withdrew from the Gazala Line and the Axis troops overran Tobruk in a day. Rommel exploited the success by pursuing the British into Egypt, denying them time to recover from the defeat. As both sides neared exhaustion, the Eighth Army managed to check the Axis advance at the First Battle of El Alamein. The battle is considered the greatest victory of Rommel's career but Operation Herkules, a plan to attack Malta, was postponed to concentrate on the pursuit. The British managed to supply Malta and revived it as a base for attacks on Axis convoys to Libya, greatly complicating Axis supply difficulties at El Alamein.

Battle of Kasserine Pass

The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II that took place in February 1943. Kasserine Pass is a 2-mile-wide (3.2 km) gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia.

The Axis forces, led by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, were primarily from the Afrika Korps Assault Group, elements of the Italian Centauro Armoured Division and two Panzer divisions detached from the 5th Panzer Army, while the Allied forces consisted of the U.S. II Corps (Major General Lloyd Fredendall), the British 6th Armoured Division (Major-General Charles Keightley) and other parts of the First Army (Lieutenant-General Kenneth Anderson).

The battle was the first major engagement between American and Axis forces in World War II in Africa. Inexperienced and poorly led American troops suffered many casualties and were quickly pushed back over 50 miles (80 km) from their positions west of Faïd Pass. This result confirmed a prediction of Winston Churchill, who had strongly advocated that the invasion of France as laid out in the proposed 1942 plan Operation Roundup be delayed until the Allies could support such an ambitious undertaking, which would give the American troops time to get up to speed with the realities of war against the experienced and well-equipped Italians and Germans.

After the early defeat, elements of the U.S. II Corps, with British reinforcements, rallied and held the exits through mountain passes in western Tunisia, defeating the Axis offensive. As a result of the battle, the U.S. Army instituted sweeping changes of unit organization and replaced commanders and some types of equipment.

Battle of Sidi Bou Zid

The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid (Unternehmen Frühlingswind/Operation Spring Breeze) took place during the Tunisia Campaign from 14–17 February 1943, in World War II. The battle was fought around Sidi Bou Zid, where a large number of American units were mauled by German and Italian forces. It resulted in the Axis recapturing the strategically important town of Sbeitla in central Tunisia.

The battle was planned by the Germans to be a two-part offensive-defensive operation against US positions in western Tunisia. Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim commanded several experienced combat units, including the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the 5th Panzer Army, which were to sweep north and west towards the Kasserine Pass, while another battle group attacked Sidi Bou Zid from the south. Facing the attack was the II US Corps (Major General Lloyd Fredendall).

In a few days, the Axis attack forced the II US Corps to take up new defensive positions outside Sbiba. Axis troops were then given time to consolidate their new front line west of Sbeitla. The success of the offensive led the German High Command to conclude that despite being well equipped, American forces were no match for experienced Axis combat troops.

Battle of the Mareth Line

The Battle of the Mareth Line or the Battle of Mareth was an attack in the Second World War by the British Eighth Army (General Bernard Montgomery) in Tunisia, against the Mareth Line held by the Italo-German 1st Army (General Giovanni Messe). It was the first big operation by the Eighth Army since the Second Battle of El Alamein ​4 1⁄2 months previously. On 19 March 1943, Operation Pugilist, the first British attack, established a bridgehead but a break-out attempt was defeated by Axis counter-attacks. Pugilist established an alternative route of attack and Operation Supercharge II, an outflanking manoeuvre via the Tebaga Gap was planned. Montgomery reinforced the flanking attack, which from 26 to 31 March, forced the 1st Army to retreat to Wadi Akarit, another 40 mi (64 km) back in Tunisia.

Capture of Kufra

The Capture of Kufra/Prise de Koufra (Koufra, Cufra) was part of the Allied Western Desert Campaign during the Second World War. Kufra is a basin and oasis group in the Kufra District of south-eastern Cyrenaica in the Libyan Desert. In 1940, it was part of the colony of Libia Italiana, which was part of Africa Settentrionale Italiana (ASI), which was established in 1934. The battle (31 January – 1 March 1941), resulted in the capture of Kufra by Free French Forces and the British Long Range Desert Group from the Italian and Libyan garrison.

Index of World War II articles (N)

N Force

N. G. L. Hammond

N. H. Gibbs

Nabatingue Toko

Nabetari

Nacht und Nebel

Nachtigall Battalion

Nada Dimić

Nadar (photographer)

Nadia Boulanger

Nagai Naoyuki

Nagant M1895

Nagara-class cruiser

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

Nagasaki Peace Park

Nagasaki, Nagasaki

Nagato-class battleship

Nahverteidigungswaffe

Nairana-class escort carrier

Nakajima B5N

Nakajima B6N

Nakajima G10N

Nakajima G8N

Nakajima J1N

Nakajima J9Y

Nakajima Ki-115

Nakajima Ki-116

Nakajima Ki-201

Nakajima Ki-27

Nakajima Ki-43

Nakajima Ki-44

Nakajima Ki-84

Nakam

Nakamura Incident

Nakamuta Kuranosuke

Nambu pistol

Namdeo Jadav

Name of Paris and its inhabitants

Names of the Holocaust

Namsos Campaign

Nanchang CJ-6

Nanchang J-12

Nanchang Q-5

Nanchang Uprising

Nancy Cunard

Nancy Greene

Nancy Harkness Love

Nancy Kulp

Nancy Salmon

Nancy Wake

Nand Singh

Naniwa-class cruiser

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

Nanjing Military Region

Nanking (2007 film)

Nanking Massacre

Nanking Safety Zone

Nanma-Linqu Campaign

Nanne Zwiep

Nansenhjelpen

Nanterre – Université (Paris RER)

Nantes Atlantique Airport

Nantes Cathedral

Nantes

Naoki Hoshino

Naomasa Sakonju

Naomi Rozenberg

Naples Municipal Airport

Napoleon I of France

Napoleon II of France

Napoleon III of France

Napoleon Zervas

Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy

Nariakira Arisaka

Narvik-class destroyer

Narvik Shield

Nashiba Tokioki

Nashorn

Nasjonal Samling

Nassim Akrour

Natalia Karp

Natalia Paley

Natalya Myeklin

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

Nathan Abshire

Nathan Bedford Forrest III

Nathan Green Gordon

Nathan Gregory Silvermaster

Nathaniel Clifton

Nathaniel Fiennes, 21st Baron Saye and Sele

Nation (Paris Métro and RER)

National Alliance (Sweden)

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National Anthem of Manchukuo

National Armed Forces

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National D-Day Memorial

National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust

National Defense (Poland)

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National European Social Movement

National Front (Australia)

National Front (French Resistance)

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National Government 1935–1940

National HRO

National Japanese American Memorial To Patriotism During World War II

National Labour Party (UK, 1957)

National Leadership Computing Facility

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National Mobilization Law

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National redoubt

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National Socialism: Vanguard of the Future

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National Socialist Workers' Party (Sweden)

National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark

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National symbols of Mengjiang

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National Vanguard (American organization)

National War Memorial (New Zealand)

National World War II Memorial

National World War II Museum

National Youth

Nationale (Paris Métro)

Nationalist Party (Iceland)

Native Americans and World War II

Native oppositors against Japanese regime(WW2)

Natividad González Parás

Natzweiler-Struthof

Nauman Scott

Naval Air Establishment Chiang Hung

Naval Artillery War Badge

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

Naval Battle of Vella Lavella

Naval Intelligence Handbooks

Naval Outlying Field San Nicolas Island

Naval ranks of the Japanese Empire during World War II

Naval Support Facility Kamiseya

Naval War College (Japan)

Naval weaponry of the People's Liberation Army Navy

Navigo pass

Navy of the Independent State of Croatia

Nawitz

Naxos radar detector

Nazi-Soviet population transfers

Nazi

Nazi Abad

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Nazi Anti-Flag Desecration Law

Nazi archaeology

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Nazi belt buckle pistol

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Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Napalm Death)

Nazi Punks Fuck Off!

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Nazi Writer's Union

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Neagu Djuvara

Neal Anderson Scott

Neal Edward Smith

Nebelwerfer

Nebeští jezdci

Nebojša Zlatarić

Nebraska World War II Army Airfields

Necdet Kent

Necessary Evil (aircraft)

Nederlandsche SS

Needles Airport

Neel E. Kearby

Neger

Negro Colleges in War Time

Nehemiah Persoff

Nehru Brigade

Neil Cameron, Baron Cameron of Balhousie

Neil McLean (politician)

Neil Ritchie

Neil Rutherford

Neldon Theo French

Nellie Jane DeWitt

Nelson-class battleship

Nelson Rae

Nemesis at Potsdam

Nemmersdorf massacre

Neo-Nazi music

Nepal during World War II

Neptuna

Nesse Godin

Nestor Chylak

Nestor Makhno

Net laying ship

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero

Netherlands American Cemetery

Netherlands East Indies campaign

Netherlands in World War II

Netherlands Indian roepiah

Netrabahadur Thapa

Neubaufahrzeug

Neuengamme concentration camp

Neuropa

Nevada-class battleship

Never on These Shores

Never So Few

Never Surrender (novel)

Never was so much owed by so many to so few

Nevile Henderson

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Nevsky Pyatachok

New 1st Army

New 6th Army

New Britain campaign

New Castle Airport

New European Order

New Fourth Army Incident

New Fourth Army

New Guinea campaign

New Guinea Volunteer Rifles

New Mexico-class battleship

New Order (Neo-Nazi group)

New Order (political system)

New Triumph Party

New York-class battleship

New Zealand Expeditionary Force

New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

Newfoundland Escort Force

Newington Armory

Newport Municipal Airport (Arkansas)

Newt Loken

Newton Henry Mason

Newton Steers

Next Objective (B-29)

Nguyen-Thien Dao

Ni Liv

NI Tank

Niall Macpherson, 1st Baron Drumalbyn

Nicholas Colasanto

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Nicholas Metropolis

Nicholas Minue

Nicholas Oresko

Nicholas Winton

Nichols Field

Nichts als die Wahrheit

Nick Alkemade

Nick Barone

Nick Cardy

Nick Fury

Nick Griffin

Nick Mallett

Nick Virgilio

Nick Winter

Nicky Barr

Nicolaos Matussis

Nicolaas Bloembergen

Nicolae Carandino

Nicolae Ceauşescu

Nicolae Cristea (communist)

Nicolae Malaxa

Nicolae Neagoe

Nicolae Petrescu-Comnen

Nicolae Rădescu

Nicolae Tătăranu

Nicolae Titulescu

Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen

Nicolangelo Carnimeo

Nicolas Anelka

Nicolas Ardouin

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

Nicolas Catinat

Nicolas Chamfort

Nicolas Chorier

Nicolas Chuquet

Nicolas Cousin

Nicolas de Gunzburg

Nicolas Fabiano

Nicolas Fouquet

Nicolas Gillet

Nicolas Goussé

Nicolas Hayer

Nicolas Ouédec

Nicolas Ravot d'Ombreval

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Savinaud

Nicolas Schlegelmilch

Nicolaus von Below

Nicole Marthe Le Douarin

Nicole Milinaire

Nie Rongzhen

Niederhagen concentration camp

Niels Bohr

Niels Larsen

Nielson Field

Nieuwlande

Nigel Bridge, Baron Bridge of Harwich

Nigel Gray Leakey

Nigel Maynard

Nigel Patrick

Nigel Poett

Nigel Stock (actor)

Night (book)

Night and Fog (1955 film)

Night of the Aurochs

Night of the Long Knives

Night Over Water

Night Train to Munich

Night Witches

Nihat Erim

Nihon Go Gakko (Tacoma)

Niihau Incident

Niitaka-class cruiser

Nikola Ljubičić

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Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of World War II

The Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre was a major theatre of operations during the Second World War. The vast size of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre saw interconnected naval, land, and air campaigns fought for control of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. The fighting in this theatre lasted from 10 June 1940, when Italy entered the war on the side of Nazi Germany, until 2 May 1945 when all Axis forces in Italy surrendered. However, fighting would continue in Greece – where British troops had been dispatched to aid the Greek government – during the early stages of the Greek Civil War.

The British referred to this theatre as the Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre (so called due to the location of the fighting and the name of Middle East Command), the Americans called it the Mediterranean Theater of War and the German informal official history of the fighting is The Mediterranean, South-East Europe, and North Africa 1939–1941 (1995). Regardless of the size of the theatre, the various campaigns were not seen as neatly separated areas of operations but part of a vast theatre of war.

Fascist Italy aimed to carve out a new Roman Empire, while British forces aimed initially to retain the status quo. Italy invaded Greece, and not until the introduction of German forces were Greece and Yugoslavia overrun. Allied and Axis forces engaged in back and forth fighting across North Africa, with Axis interference in the Middle East causing fighting to spread there. With confidence high from early gains, German forces planned elaborate attacks to be launched to capture the Middle East and then to possibly attack the southern border of the Soviet Union. In three years of fighting, Axis forces were defeated in North Africa and their interference in the Middle East was halted. The anti-Axis coalition then commenced the Allied invasion of Italy, resulting in the Italians deposing Mussolini and joining the Allies. A prolonged battle for Italy took place between Allied and German forces. As the strategic situation changed in south-east Europe, British troops returned to Greece.

The theatre of war had the longest duration of the Second World War, resulted in the destruction of the Italian Empire and altered the strategic position of Germany, resulting in German divisions being deployed to Africa and Italy and total German losses (including those captured upon final surrender) being over two million. Italian losses amounted to around 177,000 men with a further several hundred thousand captured during the process of the various campaigns. British losses amount to over 300,000 men killed, wounded, or captured, and total American losses in the region amounted to 130,000.

North African campaign

The North African campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts (Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War) and in Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch), as well as Tunisia (Tunisia Campaign).

The campaign was fought between the Allies, many of whom had colonial interests in Africa dating from the late 19th century, and the Axis Powers. The Allied war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe. The United States officially entered the war in December 1941 and began direct military assistance in North Africa on 11 May 1942.

Fighting in North Africa started with the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940. On 14 June, the British Army's 11th Hussars (assisted by elements of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, 1st RTR) crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo. This was followed by an Italian counter-offensive into Egypt and the capture of Sidi Barrani in September 1940 and again in December 1940 following a British Commonwealth counteroffensive, Operation Compass. During Operation Compass, the Italian 10th Army was destroyed and the German Afrika Korps—commanded by Erwin Rommel, who later became known as "The Desert Fox"—was dispatched to North Africa in February 1941 during Operation Sonnenblume to reinforce Italian forces in order to prevent a complete Axis defeat.

A fluctuating series of battles for control of Libya and regions of Egypt followed, reaching a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 when British Commonwealth forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery inflicted a decisive defeat on Rommel's Afrika Korps and forced its remnants into Tunisia. After the Anglo-American landings (Operation Torch) in North-West Africa in November 1942, and subsequent battles against Vichy France forces (who then changed sides), the Allies encircled several hundred thousand German and Italian personnel in northern Tunisia and finally forced their surrender in May 1943.

Operation Torch in November 1942 was a compromise operation that met the British objective of securing victory in North Africa while allowing American armed forces the opportunity to engage in the fight against Nazi Germany on a limited scale. In addition, as Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, had long been pleading for a second front to be opened to engage the Wehrmacht and relieve pressure on the Red Army, it provided some degree of relief for the Red Army on the Eastern Front by diverting Axis forces to the North African theatre. Over half the German Ju 52 transport planes that were needed to supply the encircled German and Romanian forces at Stalingrad were tied up supplying Axis forces in North Africa.Information gleaned via British Ultra code-breaking intelligence proved critical to Allied success in North Africa. Victory for the Allies in this campaign immediately led to the Italian Campaign, which culminated in the downfall of the fascist government in Italy and the elimination of Germany's main European ally.

Operation Agreement

Operation Agreement comprised a series of ground and amphibious operations carried out by British, Rhodesian and New Zealand forces on Axis-held Tobruk from 13 to 14 September 1942, during the Second World War. A Special Interrogation Group party, fluent in German, took part in missions behind enemy lines. Diversionary actions extended to Benghazi (Operation Bigamy), Jalo oasis (Operation Nicety) and Barce (Operation Caravan). The Tobruk raid was a disaster and the British lost several hundred men killed and captured, one cruiser, two destroyers, six motor torpedo boats and dozens of small amphibious craft.

Operation Compass

Operation Compass (also la battaglia della Marmarica) was the first large Allied military operation of the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) during the Second World War. British and other Commonwealth and Allied forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya, from December 1940 to February 1941. The Western Desert Force (Lieutenant-General Richard O'Connor) with about 36,000 men, advanced from Mersa Matruh in Egypt on a five-day raid against the Italian positions of the 10th Army (Marshal Rodolfo Graziani), which had about 150,000 men in fortified posts around Sidi Barrani in Egypt and in Cyrenaica.

The 10th Army was swiftly defeated and the British continued the operation, pursuing the remnants of the 10th Army to Beda Fomm and El Agheila on the Gulf of Sirte. The British took over 138,000 Italian and Libyan prisoners, hundreds of tanks, and more than 1,000 guns and aircraft, against British losses of 1,900 men killed and wounded, about 10 per cent of the infantry. The British were unable to continue beyond El Agheila, due to broken down and worn out vehicles and the diversion, beginning in March 1941, of the best-equipped units to the Greek Campaign in Operation Lustre.

Operation Retribution (1943)

During the Second World War, Operation Retribution was the air and naval blockade designed to prevent the seaborne evacuation of Axis forces from Tunisia to Sicily. (The equivalent blockade of air evacuation was Operation Flax.) Axis forces were isolated in northern Tunisia and faced a final Allied assault.

British Admiral Andrew Cunningham—Allied naval commander—began the operation on 7 May 1943, with the colourful signal to "Sink, burn and destroy. Let nothing pass". He had also named the operation "Retribution" in recognition of the losses that his destroyer forces had endured during the German occupations of Greece and Crete. The Germans were unable to mount a significant rescue effort.

The Axis' predicament had been recognised earlier and a large scale effort to evacuate Axis personnel was expected. So, all available naval light forces were ordered to concentrate at Malta or Bone, with specified patrol areas. In order to achieve this, convoy movements were restricted to release their escorts. The Italian Fleet was expected to intervene, so the battleships HMS Nelson and Rodney and the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable were moved to Algiers in readiness for a major action.In the event, the Italian Fleet did not leave port and there was no organised attempt to evacuate Axis forces by sea. Two supply ships en route to Tunisia were intercepted and sunk. Inshore flotillas of British MTBs and American PT boats intercepted small craft and raided the waters around Ras Idda and Kelibia. The only significant threat to the sea forces were friendly fire attacks by Allied aircraft, after which red recognition patches were painted on the ships. The Allies captured 897 men, 653 Germans and Italians are thought to have escaped to Italy and an unknown number drowned.Axis forces in north Africa, squeezed into a small area with minimal supplies and facing well-supplied opponents, surrendered on 13 May. The north African ports were rapidly cleared and readied to support the forthcoming invasions of southern Europe. The 12th, 13th and 14th Minesweeping Flotillas from Malta, two groups of minesweeping trawlers and smaller vessels cleared a channel through the minefields of the Sicilian Channel to Tripoli, removing nearly 200 moored mines. On 15 May, Cunningham signalled that "the passage through the Mediterranean was clear" and that convoys from Gibraltar to Alexandria could be started at once. Thus the direct route between Gibraltar and Alexandria—closed since May 1941—was reopened with prodigious savings in shipping and their escorts.

Operation Skorpion

Operation Skorpion or Unternehmen Skorpion (26–27 May 1941) was a military operation during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The operation was fought by Axis forces under the command of Colonel Maximilian von Herff and British forces under Lieutenant-General William "Strafer" Gott. A counter-attack was made on British positions at Halfaya Pass in north-western Egypt, which had been captured during Operation Brevity (15–16 May). Unternehmen Skorpion was the second offensive operation commanded by Rommel in Africa (apart from the Siege of Tobruk).

Skorpion pushed the British out of Halfaya Pass and forced them to retire to the area from Buq Buq to Sofafi. The Germans and Italians fortified the pass and built other strong points back towards Sidi Azeiz as tank killing zones, ready to meet another British attack. The British continued with preparations for Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June) but it was another costly British failure that led to the sacking of General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief Middle East and other senior officers.

Operation Torch

Operation Torch (8-16 November 1942) was an Anglo–American invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. It was aimed at reducing pressure on Allied forces in Egypt, and enabling an invasion of Southern Europe. It also provided the ‘second front’ which the Soviet Union had been requesting since it was invaded by the Germans in 1941. The region was dominated by the Vichy French, officially in collaboration with Germany, but with mixed loyalties, and reports indicated that they might support the Allied initiative. The American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding the operation, planned a three-pronged attack, aimed at Casablanca (Western), Oran (Center) and Algiers (Eastern), in advance of a rapid move on Tunis.

The Western Task Force encountered unexpected resistance, as well as bad weather, but Casablanca, the principal French Atlantic naval base, was captured after a short siege. The Center Task Force suffered some damage to its fleet, trying to land in shallow water, but the enemy ships were sunk or driven off, and Oran surrendered after heavy fire from British battleships. The Eastern Task Force met less opposition because the French Resistance had staged a coup in Algiers, and the Allies were able to push inland and compel surrender on the first day.

The success of Torch caused the commander of French forces in the region, Admiral Darlan, to order full co-operation with the Allies, in return for being retained as High Commissioner, with many Vichy officials keeping their jobs. But Darlan was assassinated soon after, and De Gaulle’s Free French gradually came to dominate the government.

Operation Torch was the first mass involvement of US troops in the European–North African Theatre, and saw the first major airborne assault carried out anywhere by the United States.

Operations Vulcan and Strike

Operation Vulcan (22 April–6 May 1943) and Operation Strike (6–12 May 1943) were the final ground attack by the Allied forces against the Italian and German forces in Tunis, Cape Bon, and Bizerte, the last Axis toeholds in North Africa, during the Tunisia Campaign of the Second World War.

Run for Tunis

The Run for Tunis was part of the Tunisia Campaign which took place during November and December 1942 during the Second World War. Once French opposition to the Allied Operation Torch landings had ceased in mid-November, the Allies made a rapid advance by a division-sized force east from Algeria, to capture Tunis and forestall an Axis build up in Tunisia and narrowly failed. Some Allied troops were fewer than 20 miles (32 km) short of Tunis by late November but the defenders counter-attacked and pushed them back nearly 20 miles (32 km), to positions which had stabilised by the end of the year.

Second Battle of El Alamein

The Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 11 November 1942) was a battle of the Second World War that took place near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein. The First Battle of El Alamein and the Battle of Alam el Halfa had prevented the Axis from advancing further into Egypt.

In August 1942, General Claude Auchinleck had been sacked as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command and his successor, Lieutenant-General William Gott was killed on his way to replace him as commander of the Eighth Army. Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery was appointed and led the Eighth Army offensive.

The Allied victory was the beginning of the end of the Western Desert Campaign, eliminating the Axis threat to Egypt, the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields. The battle revived the morale of the Allies, being the first big success against the Axis since Operation Crusader in late 1941. The battle coincided with the Allied invasion of French North Africa in Operation Torch on 8 November, the Battle of Stalingrad and the Guadalcanal Campaign.

Western Desert campaign

The Western Desert campaign (Desert War), took place in the deserts of Egypt and Libya and was the main theatre in the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign began in September 1940 with the Italian invasion of Egypt; Operation Compass, a British five-day raid in December 1940, led to the destruction of the Italian 10th Army. Benito Mussolini sought help from Adolf Hitler, who responded with a small German force sent to Tripoli under Directive 22 (11 January). The German Afrika Korps (Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel) was under nominal Italian command but Italian dependency on Nazi Germany made it the dominant partner.

In the spring of 1941, Axis forces under Rommel pushed the British back to Egypt except for the port of Tobruk, where the Siege of Tobruk took place until Operation Crusader. The Axis forces retired to where they had started by the end of the year. In 1942 Axis forces drove the British back again and captured Tobruk after the Battle of Gazala but failed to gain a decisive victory. On the final Axis push to Egypt, the British retreated to El Alamein, where at the Second Battle of El Alamein the Eighth Army defeated the Axis forces. They were driven out of Libya to Tunisia, where they were defeated in the Tunisian Campaign.

The war in the desert became a sideshow for Germany once the war against the Soviet Union began on 22 June 1941. Italy and Germany never had sufficient resources or the means to deliver them to defeat the British, whose conquest of Libya was delayed by the diversion forces to Greece and the Levant in 1941 and the Far East in 1942.

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