Finally, it’s time for the decisive battle against the Italians in North Africa. Troops have been building up on either side for a long time now for what will doubtless be an epic confrontation.
Our Supreme Leader’s strategy has remained constant with regards to North Africa: allow the Italians to cross over into Libya and proceed as far as El Alamein. British and Commonwealth forces will hold Alexandria at all costs. This way the Italians will be brought well within range of our close support and tactical bombers, whilst being beyond the range of their own air fights and light bombers. Naval dominance in the eastern Mediterranean is secured thanks to a large Royal Navy presence, also based in Alexandria.
The Ethiopian Campaign is finished off as quickly as possible, in order to bring as many divisions as we can in time for the Italian attack. It’s completed with about a month to spare, which isn’t quite quick enough to bring all our forces back to the Med, but things are looking secure anyway, with the existing forces present in Alexandria and a number of allied divisions (mainly South African) which have been hurriedly redeployed there.
The attack finally comes on 25th August, 1940. It doesn’t go well for the Italians: they attack 22 Allied divisions (mostly infantry, but with armour and HQ units also present) with 12 of their six-battalion divisions. The battle is over in short order, with the Italian organisation crumbling before they’ve even had a chance to take many casualties:
Of course, it was never our plan to sit their twiddling our thumbs whilst waiting for the attack. Our boys are fully prepared to launch an immediate counter-stroke:
This battle against the retreating and disorganised Italian forces is hard fought,, taking about a week and incurring very high casualties on both sides. However, with our victory, the fate of North Africa (or at least Eygpt; let’s not get too optimistic) is sealed. This is the decisive moment of the campaign. Time for some blitzkrieg:
This is the situation as of 18th September, 1940, three weeks after the initial battle. The Italians have been driven into the desert interior of the country and really have nowhere to go. Those ~18 divisions are looking as if they are in real trouble. Things wobble for a second, however, as fresh Italian divisions counter attack into Sollum. Our spearhead was led by (our only) two armoured divisions, both using somewhat tanks, and as you can see above, the supporting infantry hasn’t even caught up as far as Sidi Barrani. Have we overextended? It seems not: the armour may be on its own, but valiantly carries the day:
Small causality figures for such a knife-edge affair. Meanwhile, our salient desperately needs defending and those Italian divisions mopping up before they can escape into Libya:
After just over one month of fighting, Egypt is essentially ours. The Italians have completely lost around 20 divisions in this exercise (although some dregs might yet escape). Casualties have been relatively high on the British side, mainly due to the rapidity of our counter-strike, but nevertheless, we find ourselves in a strong position to march on to Tobruk. On to victory!
In other news
Things haven’t been entirely quite elsewhere in the war. The Habaniyya Coup in early September is of immediate concern:
This situation is definitely not critical, but does require swift action. Divisions travelling up from East Africa have been diverted to the Middle East forthwith. Our immediate priority is securing Palestine, before moving into Iraq.
Elsewhere on the diplomatic front, Yugoslavia springs onto the stage. Germany wastes no time in declaring war. Our brave submariners sunk an Italian destroyer division off the coast of Tobruk, and we also had some most welcome action on the technological front:
Finally, the US seems to be taking more of an interest in the war, offering a deal which will help us a great deal in our battle against the Kreigsmarine:
Of course we accept.
A final thought
Our Supreme Leader chooses this moment to realise that he has almost entirely neglected the Far East, and that our quick and decisive victories in Africa are due in large part to overcommitting troops to this theatre. India, over which we have military control, has been busily churning out divisions, which we hastily begin to organise, but they’re going to need stiffening with some serious British and African divisions if they’re going to hold the line against Japan, should things come to that [editor’s note: I can remember the date of Pearl Harbour off the top of my head, and to keep things tense I’m deliberately not looking it up], but our marked lack of long range transport squadrons is seriously going to hamper our redeployment efforts.
We shall see…