Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom against the German Air Force attacks from the end of June 1940. It is described as the first major campaign fought entirely by air forces, the primary objective of the Nazi German forces was to compel Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement. In July 1940, the air and sea blockade began with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal shipping convoys and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth. On 16 July Hitler ordered the preparation of Operation Sea Lion as an amphibious and airborne assault on Britain. Nazi Germany was unable to sustain daylight raids, but their continued night bombing operations on Britain became known as the Blitz. Its first Chief of the Air Staff Hugh Trenchard was among the military strategists in the 1920s like Giulio Douhet who saw air warfare as a new way to overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, interception was near impossible with fighter planes no faster than bombers.
Their view was that the bomber will always get through, Germany was forbidden military air forces by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, but developed aircrew training in civilian and sport flying. In 1926 the secret Lipetsk fighter-pilot school began operating, a winter 1933–34 war game indicated a need for fighters and anti-aircraft protection as well as bombers. On 1 March 1935 the Luftwaffe was formally announced, with Walther Wever as Chief of Staff, the list excluded bombing civilians to destroy homes or undermine morale, as that was considered a waste of strategic effort, but the doctrine allowed revenge attacks if German civilians were bombed. A revised edition was issued in 1940, and the central principle of Luftwaffe doctrine was that destruction of enemy armed forces was of primary importance. In the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe in the Condor Legion tried out air fighting tactics, wolfram von Richthofen become an exponent of air power providing ground support to other services. The difficulty of hitting targets prompted Ernst Udet to require that all new bombers had to be dive bombers.
Priority was given to producing large numbers of aeroplanes. The speed with which German forces defeated most of the armies in Norway in early 1940 created a significant political crisis in Britain. In early May 1940, the Norway Debate questioned the fitness for office of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, on 10 May, the same day Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister, the Germans initiated the Battle of France with an aggressive invasion of French territory. The Germans were so convinced of an imminent armistice that they began constructing street decorations for the parades of victorious troops. Instead, Churchill used his skilful rhetoric to harden public opinion against capitulation, the Battle of Britain has the unusual distinction that it gained its name before being fought. In secret conference on 23 May 1939 Hitler set out his rather contradictory strategy that an attack on Poland was essential, if this is impossible, it will be better to attack in the West and to settle Poland at the same time with a surprise attack
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa during the North African Campaign of the Second World War which started on 8 November 1942. The Soviet Union had pressed the United States and United Kingdom to start operations in Europe, while the American commanders favored Operation Sledgehammer, landing in Occupied Europe as soon as possible, the British commanders believed that such a course would end in disaster. The U. S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, suspected the African operation would rule out an invasion of Europe in 1943 but agreed to support the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Allies planned an Anglo-American invasion of north-western Africa — Morocco and Tunisia, with much of North Africa already under Allied control, this would allow the Allies to carry out a pincer operation against Axis forces in North Africa. These forces included 60,000 troops in Morocco,15,000 in Tunisia, in addition, there were 10 or so warships and 11 submarines at Casablanca.
The Allies believed that the Vichy French forces would not fight, the French were former Allies of the U. S. and the American troops were instructed not to fire unless they were fired upon. However, they harbored suspicions that the Vichy French navy would bear a grudge over the British action at Mers-el-Kebir in 1940, an assessment of the sympathies of the French forces in North Africa was essential, and plans were made to secure their cooperation, rather than resistance. German support for the Vichy French came in the shape of air support, several Luftwaffe bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against Allied ports in Algiers and along the North African coast. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was given command of the operation, the Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force would be Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, his deputy was Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who would plan the amphibious landings. Planners identified Oran and Algiers and Casablanca as key targets, ideally there would be a landing at Tunis to secure Tunisia and facilitate the rapid interdiction of supplies travelling via Tripoli to Rommels forces in Libya.
However, Tunis was much too close to the Axis airfields in Sicily, a compromise would be to land at Bône, some 300 miles closer to Tunis than Algiers. They therefore chose the Casablanca option as the less risky since the forces in Algeria and Tunisia could be supplied overland from Casablanca in the event of closure of the straits. In July 1941, Mieczysław Słowikowski set up Agency Africa, one of the Second World Wars most successful intelligence organizations and his Polish allies in these endeavors included Lt. Col. Gwido Langer and Major Maksymilian Ciężki. The information gathered by the Agency was used by the Americans, to gauge the feeling of the Vichy French forces, Murphy was appointed to the American consulate in Algeria. His covert mission was to determine the mood of the French forces and he succeeded in contacting several French officers, including General Charles Mast, the French commander-in-chief in Algiers. These officers were willing to support the Allies, but asked for a conference with a senior Allied General in Algeria.
However, Giraud would take no position lower than commander in chief of all the invading forces, when he was refused, he decided to remain a spectator in this affair. The Allies organized three amphibious task forces to seize the key ports and airports of Morocco and Algeria simultaneously, targeting Casablanca, successful completion of these operations was to be followed by an advance eastwards into Tunisia
The Troupes coloniales or Armée coloniale, commonly called La Coloniale, were the military forces of the French colonial empire from 1900 until 1961. From 1822 to 1900 these troops were designated Troupes de marine and they were recruited from mainland France or from the French settler and indigenous populations of the empire. This force played a role in the conquest of the empire, in World War I, World War II, the First Indochina War. The North African units date from 1830 and were together as the XIX Army Corps in 1873. These were designated as Tirailleurs sénégalais, Tirailleurs malgaches, Tirailleurs indochinois, Tirailleurs sénégalais was the name given to all West and Central African regiments, since Senegal had been the first French colony south of the Sahara. All colonial troops came under a single General Staff, the troupes coloniales were predominantly infantry but included artillery units as well as the usual support services. At various dates they included locally recruited cavalry units in Indo-China as well as troops in sub-Saharan Africa.
After the middle of the 19th century this term was extended to include the troops recruited in the French colonies. In 1958 when Frances African colonies had gained their independence, the mission, after a brief period as Overseas Troops the traditional title of Marines was restored. The Marine regiments did however part of the French Army. On colonial service white, dark blue or light khaki uniforms were worn with topees, between 1895 and 1905 a light blue/grey bleu mecanicien uniform was worn for field dress in Africa and Indo China. During and after World War I khaki became the norm for all troops in contrast to the horizon blue of the metropolitan conscripts. The blue dress uniform was however restored for French personnel who enlisted as volunteers in either the Colonial Infantry or Colonial Artillery, tirailleur regiments in Africa worn red fezes and sashes with dark blue, or khaki uniforms until 1914. The Indo-Chinese units wore a headdress and blue, white or khaki drill clothing based on local patterns.
After World War I khaki became the normal dress for indigenous troops, although sashes, the modern Troupes de Marine are distinguished in full dress by dark blue kepis with red piping and bronze anchor badges, red sashes and yellow fringed epaulettes. These traditional items are worn with the standard light beige or camouflage dress of the modern French Army on ceremonial occasions. From 1822 to 1900 these troops, both French and indigenous, had designated as Troupes de Marine, though they were not directly linked to the French Navy. Both services were administered by the Ministre de la Marine
Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. In particular, it represents the southern, unoccupied Free Zone that governed the southern part of the country, from 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of France as a whole, Germany militarily occupied northern France. Thus, while Paris remained the de jure capital of France, following the Allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942, southern France was militarily occupied by Germany and Italy. The Vichy government remained in existence, but as a de facto client and it vanished in late 1944 when the Allies occupied all of France. After being appointed Premier by President Albert Lebrun, Marshal Pétain ordered the French Governments military representatives to sign an armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940, Pétain subsequently established an authoritarian regime when the National Assembly of the French Third Republic granted him full powers on 10 July 1940.
At that point, the Third Republic was dissolved, calling for National Regeneration, the French Government at Vichy reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy, with central planning a key feature. Labour unions came under government control. The independence of women was reversed, with a put on motherhood. Paris lost its status in European art and culture. The media were tightly controlled and stressed virulent anti-Semitism, after June 1941, the French State maintained nominal sovereignty over the whole of French territory, but had effective full sovereignty only in the unoccupied southern zone libre. It had limited and only civil authority in the zones under military occupation. The occupation was to be a state of affairs, pending the conclusion of the war. The French Government at Vichy never joined the Axis alliance, Germany kept two million French soldiers prisoner, carrying out forced labour. They were hostages to ensure that Vichy would reduce its forces and pay a heavy tribute in gold, food.
French police were ordered to round up immigrant Jews and other such as communists. Public opinion in some quarters turned against the French government and the occupying German forces over time, when it became clear that Germany was losing the war, and resistance to them increased. Most of the legal French governments leaders at Vichy fled or were subject to show trials by the GPRF, thousands of collaborators were summarily executed by local communists and the Resistance in so-called savage purges. The last of the French State exiles were captured in the Sigmaringen enclave by de Gaulles French 1st Armoured Division in April 1945, in 1940, Marshal Pétain was known as a First World War hero, the victor of the battle of Verdun
North African Campaign
The North African Campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco, the campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had colonial interests in Africa dating from the late 19th century. The Allied war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe, the United States entered the war in December 1941 and began direct military assistance in North Africa on 11 May 1942. Fighting in North Africa started with the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940, on 14 June, the British Armys 11th Hussars crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo. Information gleaned via British Ultra code-breaking intelligence proved critical to Allied success in North Africa, victory for the Allies in this campaign immediately led to the Italian Campaign, which culminated in the downfall of the fascist government in Italy and the elimination of a German ally.
On 10 May 1940, the Wehrmacht had started the Battle of France, one month later, it was plain to see that France would have to surrender within two weeks. On 10 June 1940, the Kingdom of Italy aligned itself with Nazi Germany and declared war upon France, British forces based in Egypt were ordered to undertake defensive measures, but to act as non-provocatively as possible. However, on 11 June they began a series of raids against Italian positions in Libya, following the defeat of France on 25 June, Italian forces in Tripolitania—facing French troops based in Tunisia—redeployed to Cyrenaica to reinforce the Italian Tenth Army. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered the Tenth Army to invade Egypt by 8 August, two days later, no invasion having been launched, Mussolini ordered Marshal Graziani that, the moment German forces launched Operation Sea Lion, he was to attack. The battle plan was to advance along the road, while limited armoured forces operated on the desert flank. To counter the Italian advance, Wavell ordered his forces to harass the advancing Italians, falling back towards Mersa Matruh.
Positioned on the flank was the 7th Armoured Division, which would strike the flank of the Italian force. By 16 September, the Italian force had advanced to Maktila, around 80 mi west of Mersa Matruh, in response to the dispersed Italian camps, the British planned a limited five-day attack, Operation Compass, to strike at these fortified camps one by one. The British Commonwealth force, totalling 36,000 men, attacked the forward elements of the 10-division-strong Italian army on 9 December, following their initial success, the forces of Operation Compass pursued the retreating Italian forces. In January, the port at Bardia was taken, soon followed by the seizure of the fortified port of Tobruk. Some 40,000 Italians were captured in and around the two ports, with the remainder of the Tenth Army retreating along the coast road back to El Agheila. Richard OConnor sent the 7th Armoured Division across the desert, with a reconnaissance group reaching Beda Fomm some ninety minutes before the Italians.
Although desperate attempts were made to overcome the British force at the Battle of Beda Fomm, the Italians were unable to break through, and the remnants of the retreating army surrendered
The Phoney War was an eight-month period at the start of World War II, during which there were no major military land operations on the Western Front. Even though Poland was overrun in five weeks in the German Invasion of Poland beginning on 1 September 1939 and Soviet invasion beginning on 17 September 1939. The quiet of the Phoney War was punctuated by a few Allied actions, in the Saar Offensive in September, the French attacked Germany with the intention of assisting Poland, but it fizzled out within days and they withdrew. Fighting there continued until June when the Allies evacuated, ceding Norway to Germany in response to the German invasion of France, action in the air began on 16 October 1939 when the Luftwaffe launched air raids on British warships. There were various minor bombing raids and reconnaissance flights on both sides, the term Phoney War customarily appears using the British spelling even in North America, rather than the American phony, although some American sources do not follow the trend.
The term appeared in Great Britain by January 1940 as phoney, the Phoney War was referred to as the Twilight War and as the Sitzkrieg. In French it is referred to as the drôle de guerre, in Polish, it is referred to as the Dziwna Wojna. The term Phoney War was probably coined by US Senator William Borah who commented in September 1939 on the inactivity on the Western Front, There is something phoney about this war. While most of the German army was engaged in Poland, a much smaller German force manned the Siegfried Line, their fortified defensive line along the French border. The Royal Air Force dropped propaganda leaflets on Germany and the first Canadian troops stepped ashore in Britain, civilian attitudes in Britain to their German foes were still not as intense as they were to become after the Blitz. In April 1940 a German Heinkel bomber crashed at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, killing its crew and they were all laid to rest in the local cemetery which was provided with support from the Royal Air Force.
Wreaths with messages of sympathy for the casualties were displayed on the coffins, the opposing nations clashed in the Norwegian Campaign. In their hurry to re-arm and France had both begun buying large amounts of weapons manufacturers in the US at the outbreak of hostilities. The non-belligerent US contributed to the Western Allies by discounted sales, despite the relative calm on land, on the high seas the war was very real. On 4 September, the Allies announced a blockade of Germany to prevent her importing food and raw materials to sustain her war effort, the Germans immediately declared a counter-blockade. General Siegfried Westphal stated, that if the French had attacked in force in September 1939 the German army could only have held out for one or two weeks. The Saar Offensive was a French attack into the Saarland defended by the German 1st Army in the stages of World War II. Its purpose was to assist Poland, which was under attack, the assault was stopped after a few kilometres and the French forces withdrew
World War II in Yugoslavia
Simultaneously, a multi-side civil war was waged between the Yugoslav communist Partisans, the Serbian royalist Chetniks, Croatian fascist Ustaše and Home Guard, as well as Slovene Home Guard troops. Both the Yugoslav Partisans and the Chetnik movement initially resisted the occupation, after 1941, Chetniks extensively and systematically collaborated with the Italian occupation forces until the Italian capitulation, and thereon with German and Ustaše forces. The Axis mounted a series of offensives intended to destroy the Partisans, coming close to doing so in the winter, despite the setbacks, the Partisans remained a credible fighting force, gaining recognition from the Western Allies and laying the foundations for the post-war Yugoslav state. The human cost of the war was enormous, the number of war victims is still in dispute, but is generally agreed to have been at least one million. Non-combat victims included the majority of the countrys Jewish population, many of whom perished in concentration and extermination camps run by the client regimes, the Croatian Ustaše regime committed genocide against Serbs, Jews and anti-Fascist Croats.
The Serbian Chetniks pursued genocide against Muslims and Croats and Partisan Serbs, the Wehrmacht carried out mass executions of civilians in retaliation for resistance activity e. g. the Kragujevac massacre. In the same time, the country was destabilized by internal tensions, rather than reducing tensions, the agreement only reinforced the crisis in the countrys governance. These events resulted in Yugoslavias geographical isolation from potential Allied support, Air force officers opposed to the move staged a coup détat and took over in the following days. These events were viewed with great apprehension in Berlin, and as it was preparing to help its Italian ally in its war against Greece anyway, the plans were modified to include Yugoslavia as well. On 6 April 1941 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded from all sides by the Axis powers of Germany, during the invasion, Belgrade was bombed by the German air force. The invasion lasted little more than ten days, ending with the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on 17 April.
Besides being hopelessly ill-equipped when compared to the German Army, the Yugoslav army attempted to defend all borders, large numbers of the population refused to fight, instead welcoming the Germans as liberators from government oppression. Two of the constituent national groups and Croats, were not prepared to fight in defense of a Yugoslav state with a continued Serb monarchy. The only effective opposition to the invasion was from units wholly from Serbia itself, the Serbian General Staff was united on the question of Yugoslavia as a Greater Serbia ruled, in one way or another, by Serbia. On the eve of the invasion, there were 165 generals on the Yugoslav active list, of these, all but four were Serbs. The terms of the capitulation were extremely severe, as the Axis proceeded to dismember Yugoslavia, mussolinis Italy gained the remainder of Slovenia and large chunks of the coastal Dalmatia region. It gained control over the Italian governorate of Montenegro, and was granted the kingship in the Independent State of Croatia, Hungary dispatched the Hungarian Third Army to occupy Vojvodina in northern Serbia, and forcibly annexed sections of Baranja, Bačka, Međimurje, and Prekmurje.
The government in exile was now recognized by the Allied powers
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. It is estimated that between September 1943 and April 1945, some 60, 000–70,000 Allied and 60, overall Allied casualties during the campaign totaled about 320,000 and the corresponding German figure was well over 600,000. Fascist Italy, prior to its collapse, suffered about 200,000 casualties, mostly POWs taken in the Allied invasion of Sicily, including more than 40,000 killed or missing. Besides them, over 150,000 Italian civilians died, as did 15,197 anti-Fascist partisans and 13,021 troops of the Italian Social Republic. The campaign ended when Army Group C surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 2,1945, the independent states of San Marino and the Vatican, both surrounded by Italian territory, suffered damage during the campaign. Even prior to victory in the North African Campaign in May 1943, the British, especially the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, advocated their traditional naval-based peripheral strategy.
The United States, with a larger army, favoured a more direct method of fighting the main force of the German Army in Northern Europe. The ability to such a campaign depended on first winning the Battle of the Atlantic. There was even pressure from some Latin American countries to stage an invasion of Spain, the British argued that the presence of large numbers of troops trained for amphibious landings in the Mediterranean made a limited-scale invasion possible and useful. A contributing factor was Franklin D. Roosevelts desire to keep US troops active in the European theatre during 1943 and it was hoped that an invasion might knock Italy out of the conflict, or at least increase the pressure on them and weaken them further. A combined Allied invasion of Sicily began on 10 July 1943 with both amphibious and airborne landings at the Gulf of Gela, the land forces involved were the U. S. Seventh Army, under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, the original plan contemplated a strong advance by the British northwards along the east coast to Messina, with the Americans in a supporting role along their left flank.
The defending German and Italian forces were unable to prevent the Allied capture of the island, but succeeded in evacuating most of their troops to the mainland, the Allied forces gained experience in opposed amphibious operations, coalition warfare and mass airborne drops. Forces of the British Eighth Army, still under Montgomery, landed in the toe of Italy on 3 September 1943 in Operation Baytown, the armistice was publicly announced on 8 September by two broadcasts, first by General Eisenhower and by a proclamation by Marshal Badoglio. Although the German forces prepared to defend without Italian assistance, only two of their divisions opposite the Eighth Army and one at Salerno were not tied up disarming the Royal Italian Army, on 9 September, forces of the U. S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W, although none of the northern reserves were made available to the German 10th Army, it nevertheless came close to repelling the Salerno landing, due mainly to the cautious command of Clark.
As the Allies advanced, they encountered increasingly difficult terrain, the Apennine Mountains form a spine along the Italian peninsula offset somewhat to the east, the rivers were subject to sudden and unexpected flooding, which constantly thwarted the Allied commanders plans. This would make the most of the natural geography of Central Italy, whilst denying the Allies the easy capture of a succession of airfields
Battle of Dakar
The Battle of Dakar, known as Operation Menace, was an unsuccessful attempt in September 1940 by the Allies to capture the strategic port of Dakar in French West Africa. After the defeat of France and the conclusion of the armistice between France and Nazi Germany in June 1940, there was confusion as to the allegiance of the various French colonies. Some, like Cameroon and French Equatorial Africa, joined the Free French, the possibility that the French fleet might come under German control led the British to attack the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir on 3 July 1940. While the British had eliminated a potential threat, the attack discouraged other units from joining the Free French, de Gaulle believed that he could persuade the French forces in Dakar to join the Allied cause. Much would be gained by this, another Vichy French colony changing sides would have great political impact. Thus the Allies decided to send a force to Dakar. Their orders were to negotiate with the French governor for a peaceful occupation, the Vichy forces present at Dakar included the unfinished battleship Richelieu, one of the most advanced warships in the French fleet, about 95% complete.
She had left Brest, France on 18 June, just before the Germans reached the port, before the establishment of the Vichy government, HMS Hermes, a British aircraft carrier, had been operating with the French forces in Dakar. Once the Vichy regime was in power, Hermes left port but remained on watch, aircraft from Hermes attacked Richelieu and had struck her once with a torpedo. The French ship was immobilized but was able to function as a floating gun battery. A force of three cruisers comprising and three destroyers had left Toulon in southern France for Dakar just a few days earlier, gloire was slowed by mechanical troubles and was intercepted by Australia which ordered the French cruiser to sail for Casablanca. The other two cruisers and the destroyers outran the pursuing Allied cruisers and reached Dakar safely, three Vichy submarines and several lighter ships were at Dakar. On 23 September, the Fleet Air Arm dropped propaganda leaflets on the city of Dakar, Free French aircraft flew off Ark Royal and landed at the airport, but their crews were immediately taken prisoner.
A boat with representatives of de Gaulle entered the port, but was fired upon, at 10,00, Vichy ships trying to leave the port were given warning shots from Australia. As the ships returned to port the coastal batteries opened fire on Australia and this led to an engagement between the British fleet and the batteries. In the afternoon Australia intercepted and fired on the Vichy destroyer LAudacieux, setting her on fire, in the afternoon, an attempt was made to set Free French troops ashore on a beach at Rufisque, to the south-east of Dakar. The attack failed due to fog and heavy fire from defending the beach. General de Gaulle declared he did not want to shed the blood of Frenchmen for Frenchmen, during the next two days, the Allied fleet continued to attack the coastal defences and the Vichy forces continued to defend them
Battle of Madagascar
The Battle of Madagascar was the British campaign to capture Vichy French-controlled Madagascar during World War II. It began with Operation Ironclad, the seizure of the port of Diego Suarez near the tip of the island. A subsequent campaign to secure the island, Operation Streamline Jane, was opened on 10 September. Fighting ceased and an armistice was granted on 6 November, Antsiranana is a large bay with a fine harbour near the northern tip of the island of Madagascar and has an opening to the east through a narrow channel called Oronjia Pass. The naval base of Antsirane lies on a peninsula between two of the four small bays enclosed within the Antsiranana bay, Antsiranana Bay cuts deeply into the northern tip of Madagascar, almost severing it from the rest of the island. In the 1880s, the bay was coveted by France, which claimed it as a station for steamships travelling to French possessions further east. The colonys administration was subsumed into that of French Madagascar in 1897, in 1941, Antsiranana town, the bay and the channel were well protected by naval shore batteries.
In March 1942, Japanese aircraft carriers conducted the Indian Ocean raid upon shipping in the bay of Bengal and bases in Colombo and Trincomalee in Ceylon. This raid drove the British Eastern Fleet out of the area and they were forced to relocate to a new base at Kilindini, near Mombasa, the move made the British fleet more vulnerable to attack. The possibility of Japanese naval forces using forward bases in Madagascar had to be addressed, the potential use of these facilities particularly threatened Allied merchant shipping, the supply route to the British Eighth Army and the Eastern Fleet. Fricke further emphasized that Ceylon, the Seychelles and Madagascar should have a priority for the Axis navies than operations against Australia. British naval advisors urged the occupation of the island as a precautionary measure, by 12 March, Churchill had been convinced of the importance of such an operation and the decision was reached that the planning of the invasion of Madagascar would begin in earnest.
It was agreed that the Free French would be excluded from the operation. It was a force to bring against the 8,000 men at Diego Suarez. This was to be the first British amphibious assault since the landings in the Dardanelles twenty-seven years before. This was evaluated by the Chiefs of Staff, but it was decided to retain Diego Suarez as the objective due to the lack of manpower. He added that when the Commandos were withdrawn, garrison duties would be performed by two African brigades and one brigade from the Belgian Congo or west coast of Africa, in March and April, the South African Air Force had conducted reconnaissance flights over Diego Suarez and No. Allied commanders decided to launch an assault on Madagascar
Siege of Malta (World War II)
The Siege of Malta was a military campaign in the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War. From 1940–42, the fight for the control of the important island of Malta pitted the air forces and navies of Italy and Germany against the Royal Air Force. The opening of a new front in North Africa in mid-1940 increased Maltas already considerable value, British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe. General Erwin Rommel, in de facto command of Axis forces in North Africa. In May 1941, he warned that Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa, the Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns and Allied shipping supplying the island. Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war, the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defences and the ports.
Success would have made possible a combined German–Italian amphibious landing supported by German airborne forces, in the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in material and lives. By November 1942, the Axis had lost the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Axis diverted their forces to the Battle of Tunisia, and attacks on Malta were rapidly reduced. The siege effectively ended in November 1942, in December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa. Malta was a military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt, in peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. When the route was closed Malta remained a base for offensive action against Axis shipping.
Owing to its position close to Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. Malta is 27 km ×14 km with area of just under 250 km2 and it had a population of around 250,000 in June 1940, all but three or four per cent of them native Maltese. According to the 1937 census, most of the inhabitants lived within 6.4 kilometres of Grand Harbour, where the population density was more than six times that of the island average. Amongst the most congested spots was Valletta, the capital and political and commercial centre, across Grand Harbour, in the Three Cities, where the dockyards and the Admiralty headquarters were located,28,000 people were packed into 1.3 km2. It was these areas that suffered the heaviest, most sustained and concentrated aerial bombing in history. There were hardly any defences on Malta because of a conclusion that the island was indefensible