Period: September 10, 1940
Benito Mussolini: War alone can carry to the maximum tension all human energies and imprint with the seal of nobility those people who have the courage to confront it; every other test is a mere substitute.
Winston Churchill: Before Alamain, we had no victories. After Alamein, we had no defeats.
Involved: Major Maurice Rose played an important role during the North African Campaign: it was he who led the negotiations with the Germans and eventually oversaw the first massive unconditional surrender of German troops in World War II.
On September 13, 1940 the Italian army invaded Egypt with the aim of taking control of the Suez Canal and thus having access to the Arab oil fields. (In the mechanized warfare of World War II the supply of sufficient fuel was vital). Britain had to react to this. The Suez Canal was the lifeline of the British Empire, because it was the fastest connection between the mother country and the colonies in the East.
In early December British troops attacked in North Africa. They pushed the Italians back westward and achieved a major victory on January 22, 1941 when they took the city of Tobruk in eastern Libya.
The second phase of the battle came when the Italian dictator Mussolini asked Hitler for assitance. The Germans chose to support the weak Italian army. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was in charge of the Deutsches Afrika Korps, which led the counterattack from February onwards.
In the following year, the front line went back and forth, but in the end the Germans prevailed. Tobruk was recaptured by the Germans on June 21, 1942 and Rommel advanced to the village of El Alamein, only half a day's drive away from the Suez Canal. But here the Germans suffered two defeats. Firsly in July 1942 and again in October - November 1942 (respectively the First and Second Battle of El Alamein).
In November 1942 new Allied forces, including the US Army, landed in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (Operation Torch). The German army was caught in a pincer movement, as they were attacked from the west and the east. Erwin Rommel realized that it was only a matter of time before they would have to surrender. That occurred on 13 May 1943. Major Maurice Rose played an important role: it was he who led the negotiations with the Germans and eventually oversaw the first massive unconditional surrender of German troops in World War II.
Involved: Major General Maurice Rose as commander of 3 Armored Division participated in the Battle of the Bulge.
A British Crusader tank passing a burning German Pzkw Mk IV tank during the siege of Tobruk on November 27, 1941
Source: Public Domain
British infantrymen El Alamein
Source: Public Domain
German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and his officers
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-786-0327-19 / Otto / CC-BY-SA