John Grehan

Operations in North Africa and the Middle East, 1939–1942

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The Middle East Command in the SecondWorld War covered a vast region, stretchingacross Egypt, Libya, Malta, Palestine andTransjordan, Cyprus, Sudan, Eritrea, most ofSyria and a small part of Iraq, and includedsome forty different languages. At one pointit also oversaw operations in Greece, Kenyaand British Somaliland. Its campaign area ranfor a thousand miles from the Jordan to theHorn of Africa.Initially under the leadership of General SirArchibald Wavell, Middle East Commandsearly actions were in contending with theItalian forces in Libya and Italian East Africa.He was soon distracted by the Germaninvasion of Greece and the subsequentdefence of, and withdrawal from, the Islandof Crete. With his attention turned fromNorth Africa to the gean, Italian forces inNorth Africa were able to hold their groundand even receive reinforcements in the formof Rommels Afrika Korps. Wavells despatches detail all of thesecampaigns up to July 1941, when he wassuperseded by General Claude Auchinleck.The Auk had to deal with the Anglo-FreeFrench invasion of Syria and Lebanon and thenationalist uprising in Iraq. His mainconcern, though, was with stoppingRommels advances through Libya. The Axisforces were eventually held close to theborder of Egypt at El Alamein. It was as faras Rommel would go and it marked the endof the long run of Axis successes in NorthAfrica.The despatches presented here form aunique collection of original reports from thecommanding officers in this widespread anddifficult region. This is the first time thesedocuments have been brought together in asingle volume
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595 printed pages
Original publication
2015

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