Second Italo-Ethiopian War

Africa between the World Wars

Sub-Saharan Africa 1936.0509

Second Italo-Ethiopian War

League of Nations Africa, Second Italo-Ethiopian War (9 May 1936)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

Following the League of Nations failure to halt Italian aggression in the Abyssinia Crisis, Italy launched a full-scale invasion of Ethiopia. Despite Ethiopian resistance, the Italians captured Addis Ababa in May 1936, annexing Ethiopia to their East African empire.

Main Events

Hamza Line

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia claimed the Rub' al Khali (the Empty Quarter), with King Ibn Saud declaring a frontier - the Hamza line - which extended deep into the claimed territories of the British-protected states of Trucial Oman, Muscat and Oman, and Aden. In response, the British Minister to Saudi Arabia, Sir Andrew Ryan, suggested a compromise frontier - the Riyadh line - on 25 November 1935, but the dispute remained open.

Outbreak of Second Italo-Ethiopian War

At 5:00 am Italian troops under General Emilio de Bono crossed the Mareb River from Eritrea into Ethiopia. On the same day, Italian forces in Somalia began a series of attacks across the Ogaden into southern and eastern Ethiopia. In response to these undeclared Italian invasions, Ethiopia declared war on Italy.

March of the Iron Will

An Italian mechanized column under Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio advanced from Dessie to capture Addis Ababa, capital of the Ethiopian Empire. The march was largely unopposed as the Imperial Ethiopian Army had by this point been severely weakened by bombing and poison gas attacks, with the last major Ethiopian counterattack being defeated at Maychew on 31 March. Unable to defend the capital, Emperor Haile Selassie fled into exile on 2 May, three days before the Italians arrive.

Italian annexation of Ethiopia

The Italian government under Duce Benito Mussolini proclaimed the annexation of Ethiopia into Italian East Africa, with King Emmanuel assuming the title of Emperor of Ethiopia. However most of the country was still unconquered and the last Ethiopian army would not surrender until the end of the year.

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