North Africa

The North Africa campaign during World War II included major operations from early 1940 through the spring of 1943 as Allied forces fought Axis armies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. For the Allies, victory in North Africa was critical for control of the Mediterranean Sea and future offensive operations in Italy. Axis forces hoped to dominate the Mediterranean and seize British-held Egypt, the Suez Canal, and potentially the oil fields of the Middle East. The Allies were victorious in North Africa campaign, and the defeat of Axis forces at the Battle of El Alamein was a turning point during World War II.

Located at Helwan, Egypt, the Middle East Command Camouflage Development and Training Center was a think tank and laboratory for the deception efforts of A Force. Taken in 1941, this photo shows a British tank with its sunshield split during vehicle servicing on the workshop floor.

North Africa

Magic in the Desert

By Jon Diamond

In July 1939, Archibald Wavell was named General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Middle East Command with the rank of full general in the British Army. Read more

North Africa

Daring Raid on Algiers Harbor

By Christopher Miskimon

In November 1942, the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch, caused a short but intense conflict with French forces loyal to the Vichy regime in power on the European mainland. Read more

North Africa

Battle at Bir el Gubi

By Arnold Blumberg

February 1941 saw the fortunes of war favor the British in the North African wasteland of Cyrenaica (modern Libya). Read more

North Africa

Subhas Chandra Bose: Champion of Indian Nationalism

By Blaine Taylor

When British diplomat Lord Halifax arrived at the Berghof in the Bavarian Alps on November 19, 1937, he mistook German Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler for a footman and was about to hand him his coat and hat when Foreign Minister Baron Constantin von Neurath hissed, “The Führer! Read more

North Africa

Nomads of War: The Long Range Desert Group

By John W. Osborn, Jr.

“The problem,” a member said, “is to make yourself so much master over the appalling difficulties of nature—heat, thirst, cold, rain, fatigue—that, overcoming these you yet have physical energy and mental resilience to deal with the greater object, the winning of the war.” Read more

In December 1944, a small radio code-breaking unit intercepted a message that should have tipped off the Allies to the Battle of the Bulge attack.

North Africa

Codebreaking at the Battle of the Bulge

by Arnold Franco

World War II, being far more fluid than World War I, marked the advent of the mobile radio intercept unit whose task was to pick up, decrypt if possible, and pinpoint enemy units sending their messages through the airways. Read more

The strange death of Fascist Italy’s Air Marshal Italo Balbo: accidental shootdown or political murder?

North Africa

The Strange Death Of Air Marshal Italo Balbo

by Blaine Taylor

On May 26, 1940, as the armies of Nazi Germany roared across prostrate France and the British Expeditionary Force was in the midst of its evacuation by sea from the European continent, Italian Army Marshal Pietro Badoglio, 69, was in the waiting room of the Palazzo Venezia in Rome. Read more

Naval Special Warfare

North Africa

SEALs: the Birth of the Navy’s ‘Special Warfare’ Force

By Bud Hyland

Today’s Navy SEALs (for Sea, Air, and Land special warfare experts) have a history shrouded in secrecy. Commissioned in 1962, they are the most elite shore-area Special Forces in the world, concentrating on very select and often-clandestine intelligence gathering and precision strike missions. Read more

General William C. Westmoreland was a stalwart fighter and patriot through three separate wars.

North Africa

Soldier Profiles: General William C. Westmoreland

By Blaine Taylor

In 1989, this writer had occasion to interview four-star General William Childs Westmoreland, now 86, formerly U.S. military commander in South Vietnam and at the time of the interview a retired Chief of Staff of the Army. Read more

North Africa

Operation Crusader at Sidi Rezegh—Siege of Tobruk

By Thomas Haymes

By the end of the second day visibility was reduced to almost zero. Burning hulks of everything from ME-109s to M3 “Honey” tanks, Panzer IIIHs, and trucks of all descriptions littered the battleground that was once an airfield. Read more