Battle of North Africa

Kate Davis

The Allies hoped that the war in Africa would play a key role in the overall success for them. If the Allies were able to build up bases in North Africa, there would be potential to attack Italy or Yugoslavia. Hitler feared this. The Battle of North Africa is known as the Desert War. By 1941, the Italian army was almost totally defeated. Hitler sent German troops into North Africa to clear out the Allied troops. Leading the German force was war general Erwin Rommel. He earned the nickname "Desert Fox" for his brilliant battle tactics while fighting in the deserts of North Africa.


Rommel launched his first attack against the Allies in February 1941. This surprised the British and Rommel carried out a triple attack on the Egyptian border. Britain came up with Operation Battleaxe which was their attempt to liberate Tobruk, but was soon stopped by well-prepared defenses. In November, Operation Crusader was launched by the Allies catching Rommel by surprise. By the end of 1941, Tobruk was liberated and Benghazi was returned to Britain.


At the beginning of 1942, British supply lines were imposed on and Rommel counter attacked forcing Britain to retreat. Tobruk was cut off once again and fell to the Axis powers. Churchill reshuffled military command placing Montgomery at the head of the Eighth Army. Montgomery, being aware that mobile tank battles were Rommel's forte, unleashed a battle of attrition. He used his huge advantages in artillery, infantry, and supplies. After two weeks of heavy battle, the German tank force was had been reduced to 35 which pressured the remnants of the Axis forces to retreat. In May 1943 more them 230,000 troops surrendered to the Allies in Tunisia ending the campaign.

Battle for North Africa (Rommel versus Montgomery)