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.

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

Byzantine Spies in the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars

North Africa

Byzantine Spies in the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars

by Arnold Blumberg

Byzantium, the successor state to ancient Rome, lasted over a thousand years. But it all could have been different because its first major enemy—Persia—was a fierce and determined competitor bent on the Empire’s demise. 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

When France surrendered in June 1940, a fearful Churchill’s severe solution was Operation Catapult and an attack on French ships at Mers-el-Kébir.

North Africa

Operation Catapult: The Attack on Mers-el-Kébir

By Brooke C. Stoddard

Steaming through the summer Mediterranean night, the world having gone sour in two awful months, British Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville read the message just sent to him from London: “You are charged with one of the most disagreeable and difficult tasks that a British Admiral has ever been faced with, but we have complete confidence in you and rely on you to carry it out relentlessly.” 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