* World War II -- Somaliland Somalia

World War II Country Trends: Somailand

Figure 1.--This unidentified photograph has no attached information, except that it was taken in British Somaliland. We believe is shows the emergency evacuation of British civilians from Somaliland to Aden after Italy declared war and prepared to invade (June 1940).

Italy at the onset of World War II held both the southern coast of modern Somalia and Eritra. An attempt to add Ethiopia to to these coastal enclaves and creat a large Italian East African colony resulted in defeart at Aduwa/Adowa (1895). It was the only European army defeated by an African army. Mussolini decided to invade Ethiopia again. It was the first Fascist aggression that wold evenntually lead to World War II. Italy invaded Ethiopia using modern arms, including poison gas. The Italians created a vast East African colony (1935). Italy at first remained neutral when Germany and the Soviet Union launched World war II by invading Poland (1939). Italy decided to join the Germans once they had largely defeated France (June 1940). The first action in Somalia was an Italian offensive to seize British Somaliland (northern Somalia. The small British force was not capable of defending the colony. The British this evacuated to Aden. Italian control of the Horn of Africa could have had disasterous consequences, if they had been able to block supplies through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to British forces in Egypt. The naval and air forces, however, were inadequate as well as the necessary supplies. The principal British and Italian armies were deployed in the Western Desert (coastal Egypt and Libya). Thus after seizing British Somaliland, the outcome in East Africa was largely a nmatter of awaiting the outcome in the Western Desert. Italy invaded Egypt (September 1940). The British with a smaller force defeated the Italians and drove them back into Libya. With Egypt and Suez saved, the British launched an offensive in East Africa. The Italians on paper had a larger force, but isolated by the Royal Navy, the Italians were defeated by an Empire force aided by Ethiopian irregulars (1941). Ethiopia became the first country liberasted during World war II. The British took over the administration of former Italianm Somalilabnd and Eritra.


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Created: 4:17 PM 5/5/2020
Last updated: 4:17 PM 5/5/2020