Western Desert Campaign

World War II: Blitzkrieg

Europe 1942.0627

Western Desert Campaign

World War II in Europe from the fall of Poland to Stalingrad (27 June 1942)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In North Africa, Rommel launched his greatest offensive against the British, expelling them from Libya and invading Egypt. By the end of June, he was closing in on Alexandria, forcing the British to evacuate the Mediterranean Fleet to safer ports.

Main Events

Operations Theseus

The German and Italian forces of Panzerarmee Afrika, under Colonel-General Erwin Rommel, launched Operation Theseus - an attack on the British Eighth Army in Libya. The British retreated to the Gazala Line, west of Tobruk, which they held until June 13. Over the following four days, Rommel chased them from Libya, receiving the surrender of the isolated British garrison at Tobruk on the 21st.

Battle of Midway

In an attempt to lure the US Pacific Fleet's few remaining aircraft carriers into a trap, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an offensive against Midway Atoll. Warned of Japanese plans by its code-breakers, the US was prepared for the attack and successfully ambushed the Japanese force, sinking all four of its major aircraft carriers - Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu - and a heavy cruiser for the loss of just the carrier Yorktown and a destroyer.

Operation Aïda

Panzerarmee Afrika, under Colonel-General Erwin Rommel, resumed its advance eastward into Egypt in Operation Aïda. After forcing the British Eighth Army to retreat from their defensive line at Mersa Matruh, Rommel reached El Alamein - close enough to Alexandria to prompt the British to evacuate the Mediterranean Fleet to Haifa, Port Said, and Beirut.

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