This article is about a battle ofduring .
was the British response to the attack on Egypt that had launched by of Italy in September 1940. The Italian withdrawal became trapped in disaster for nearly all the 10th by a smaller force.
On 13 September of 1940, the Italian Marshal Rodolfocommanded the of almost 250,000 men to attack from Libya (Cyrenaica) against Egypt, which then was a British colony. Numerically, the Italian superiority was overwhelming, as the forces defending Egypt did not exceed 36,000 men. Indeed, the initial Italian offensive drove back the British some 100 km inside into Egypt. But ordered to halt and strengthen in , as the number of Italian tanks were much lower than that of the British and the open desert was the perfect for them. Graziani decided to await the arrival of supplies and created several defensive camps along the defensive line of .
On 9 December, the 4thof India and the were commanded by British commander in chief Archibald and General Operations Richard O’Connor launched an attack between two Italian camps, which were too far apart to support each other. In this way, the attack took place behind the camps, they were not prepared and the result was a completely disorganized Italian withdrawal. In and , the British captured some 40,000 soldiers.
On 5 January of 1941, the 6th Australianwent to relieve the 4th Division of India, which had been sent to participate in the .
This was when the General O’Connor could continue chasing the Italians. On 8 January, the important port offell by the Australians and 25,000 Italian soldiers were captured. Similarly, and were captured.
Afraid to face the British battleships in the desert, the Italian withdrew from the coast road, the Via Balbia was made, advancing along the narrow coastal strip to the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the Green Mountains in the south. O’Connor realized that he could send the 7th Armored Division in Benghazi to catch the. In a risky maneuver, Australians pursued the Italians along the coast, while the British tanks rushing to close the circle in the desert that stretches south of the mountains.
Thewas able to pass in Benghazi but had not yet managed to avoid being caught. On 7 February, the 7th Armored Division, henceforth known as the “Desert Rats”, completed the fence in and a disaster was pounced on the hapless .
In all, the Italians were caught of 130,000 soldiers and the destruction of 400 tanks and 1,292 pieces of artillery, besides the generaldied in the early days of the British offensive. For its part, the British managed to move 800 km in 10 weeks and 500 men died, while 1,225 were injured.
General O’Connor came to the Agheila, but had to stop their advance according to the orders from British Prime Minister, as the Balkan campaign had just started and needed to send troops to Greece.
Immediately,would order the execution of the and the course of the war in Africa would overturn pro- Axis with the arrival of the and its general Erwin .