Like the British, the Axis powers, though less wholeheartedly, sought to stretch their enemy’s resources, in particular in East Africa and the Middle East. In East Africa, Italian forces took advantage of Britain’s distraction to invade British Somaliland from Ethiopia on 5 August 1940, and conquer it easily. The previous month they had penetrated into Kenya and had occupied frontier towns in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Italian forces were larger than the British Empire forces in the area, but they were isolated from reinforcements. In September, despite the threat posed to Egypt by Italians in Libya, the British C-in- C Middle East, General Wavell, sent the 5th Indian Division to the Sudan. The 1st South African Division was formed in Kenya. After Wavell’s successes in the Western Desert in December, the 4th Indian Division was sent up the Nile as well.
There was a number of reasons why the ...read more