North African Campaigns Wwii

Topics: World War II, Axis powers, Allies of World War II Pages: 6 (1962 words) Published: November 7, 2008
The North African Campaigns took place in the North African desert between 1940 and 1943. North Africa is a region that includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and the Western Sahara. The North African Campaigns were fought for two main reasons. The first reason was the Suez Canal. The canal was extremely important when it came to controlling the Middle East. The second reason was the Middle Eastern oil resources. Egypt was especially important because of its location; it sat at the center of a vital strategic network. The North African Campaigns were also very important because it was the only land based fight where the Allies could take to the Axis powers from 1940 up until 1943, when the invasion of Sicily occurred. It was vitally important in strategic terms because the Mediterranean and British empires were at stake.

In North Africa the Germans and the Italians controlled a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast. This strip of land stretched form Tunisia to Egypt. There were a total of 100,000 men under field marshal Erwin Rommel. The French forces in North Africa also numbered roughly 100,000, but they had a considerable naval strength as well. The allies had a plan called “plan torch”. The plan involved centralized attacks. Harold Alexander was the British commander in chief of the Middle East. He was supposed to strike west from Egypt with General Montgomery and the eighth British army. While these strikes were occurring, the combined Anglo-American forces were supposed to invade French North Africa and hit the enemy form behind. Both the British eighth army and the invasion forces converged in Tunisia.

The allies planned there different landings; one was outside the straight of Gibraltar and two were inside the straight in Algeria. When these landings were successful, more troops landed near the border of Algeria and moved quickly into Tunisia before the Germans could block there move. The British eighth army opened an offensive at El Alamein after defeating a prior Axis offensive. In November of 1942 the US Navy put the army forces on land near Casablanca. While troops were being released into Casablanca by the US Navy, the British Navy was unloading troops near Oran and Algiers. The total invasion consisted of more than 400 ships, 1000 planes and roughly 107,000 men.

The allies achieved strategic surprise, but the whole operation was delayed by the French forces. In November of 1942, negotiations had been made and these negotiations ended French resistance and won French cooperation. By this time the Germans had moved into Tunisia in force by water from Sicily. The Germans were even able to stop the allied drive short of the capital in Tunisia. Now the Axis had brought in roughly 150,000 troops from Sicily. Rommel’s troops established themselves behind the “Mareth Line” in eastern Tunisia in contact with German reinforcements.

In February of 1943 Rommel continued with his offensive. Now powerful German armored units came from central Tunisia and were trying to turn the south flank of the British army, and capture an allied base of operations around Tebessa. At this time, the Germans ended up defeating the allies during a series of sharp armored actions. These actions forced the withdrawal of American troops, and gave the Germans a superb advancement of roughly one hundred miles. Determined to stop them, the Allies brought them to a halt. When brought to a halt, the Germans withdrew to their original positions. At the beginning of March the Germans tried twice to battle the Allies and both times they failed. At this point in time, the Allies were now able to get back to their offensive. General Pattern’s men attacked towards the flank and rear of the Mareth Line, and the British eighth army outflanked the Axis position. Within a month all Axis troops had been pushed into a small bridgehead covering the Cape Ben Peninsula.

In May of 1943 the Allies captured the capital of...
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