Interactive

NORTH AFRICA CAMPAIGN

What Happened:
Battle of El Alamein:
It started when General Erwin Rommel took control of the Libyan port city, Tobruk, in June 1942. London sent General Bernard Montgomery to take control of British forces in North Africa, but the Germans had already pushed to El Alamein in Egypt. The Battle of El Alamein was started on October 23rd because the British could only remove the Germans by forceful attacks. The Germans were defeated on November 4th.

Operation Torch:
When Rommel's forces fell back, the Allies started Operation Torch. Allied forces made up of mostly Americans, led by Dwight D. Eisenhower, arrived in Morocco and Algeria on November 8th. Rommel was then trapped between Montgomery and Eisenhower, so he was officially finished by May 1943.






Who Was Involved:
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Erwin Rommel (German)- German tank commander whose strategic skill and surprise attacks earned him the nickname “Desert Fox”. He contracted an illness and was shipped back to Germany. He pleaded with Hitler to pull the troops out, but Hitler did not listen. As a result, Hitler lost many tanks and troops.

Benito Mussolini (Italian) - Italian dictator whose ill-advised military offensives embroiled Italian and German forces in North Africa; was deposed by coup in July 1943.

Montgomery (British) - Attacked Rommel multiple times and held him off so he could not take the Suez Canal and all of the oil and gas in the Middle East. He then pushes Rommel's forces back and helps surround his forces with the help of Patton.

Patton (American) - Landed west of Rommel's troops. He engaged Rommel's forces in Tunisia and surrounded him with the help of General Montgomery. Together they defeated Rommel's troops.
Where:
The North African Campaign occurred in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. The Germans, under General Erwin Rommel's command, fought the British, under Bernard Montgomery's command, starting in 1940.


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Significance:
Maintaining the Suez Canal was vitally important for Britain because it kept them connected to the rest of their empire. When Italy attacked North Africa, both the Mediterranean and the British African Empire were at stake. Britain was then forced to send in extra troops to protect their land, which caused North Africa to become one of the major battle locations during World War II. This event has large significance because Hitler had to come to Italy’s rescue, proving Hitler was the stronger leader than Mussolini. In addition, this severely weakened German efforts elsewhere, because Hitler had to send many of his troops into Africa, instead of saving them for his attack in Russia. This also distracted Hitler from his main goal of taking over Europe. The North Africa campaign turned out to be a large defeat for the Axis powers. It is also recognized because it was the first time U.S. forces had a large involvement in the European theater during World War II. After the Axis defeat in North Africa, this allowed the Allies to invade Sicily and the rest of Italy easily. By July 22, 1943 the Allies had overthrown the Sicilian capital of Palermo, and soon after Benito Mussolini was overthrown. Italy then surrendered on September 8th, 1943, but British, U.S., and French forces still invaded. The Allied powers gained all of Southern Italy by October 1st. This was possible because the Allies ended up winning back North Africa, which weakened Italy and Germany. Although Italy was Germany’s main ally, they did not do much to help, as they did hinder.


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Works Cited:

"BBC - History - World Wars: Animated Map: The North African Campaign." BBC - Homepage. 2011. Web. 24 May 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/animations/wwtwo_map_n_africa/index_embed.shtml>.

Beck, Roger B. World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2009. Print.

“North Africa Campaign.” 2011. The History Channel website. May 24 2011, 5:41 http://www.history.com/videos/north-africa-campaign.