Mediterranean and the Middle East

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Following its exclusion from Europe after Dunkirk, the only feasible theatre where Britain could combat Germany on land was in North Africa. Beginning with a series of British defeats inflicted on Italy, the arrival of Rommel’s Afrika Korps turned the tide of war, and soon Egypt itself was in danger. Meanwhile Germany had rolled up Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete in a whirlwind campaign in Spring 1941. Only after German resources were sucked into the Russian campaign did the tide of war in the Mediterranean turn again. Malta held out, General Auchinleck held Rommel at Alam Halfa, and his successor Montgomery, massively reinforced, counter-attacked at El Alamein in October 1942 forcing Rommel to retreat. The Anglo-American invasion of French Algeria, ‘Operation Torch’ in November was a dress-rehearsal for D-Day, and boxed into Tunisia German forces surrendered in 1943. That July Sicily then Italy itself was invaded by the Allies, Mussoliuni’s Fascist regime fell, and the end of the war was at last in sight.