Liquidation of Italian East Africa

World War II in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa 1941.0406

Liquidation of Italian East Africa

World War II, East African campaign, Madagascar campaign (6 April 1941)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

The British conquest of Italian East Africa culminated with the Italian surrender of Addis Ababa on 6 April 1941. One month later, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to his capital in triumph, marking the symbolic restoration of the Ethiopian Empire. However the Italian army would continue to hold out in the interior until November, with guerrilla warfare carrying on even after that.

Main Events

Operation Appearance

British Force D, embarking from Aden, landed two Punjab regiments and a Somali commando detachment at Berbera, capital of Italian-occupied British Somaliland. The Italian defenders withdrew, allowing the British to reopen the port and begin shipments of supplies to the 11th African Division advancing from Mogadishu.

Operation Sunflower

In February 1941 German troops under the command of General Irwin Rommel - the Afrika Korps -
were dispatched to Libya to support the Italy after the destruction of the Italian 10th Army during Operation Compass. In late March the combined Axis forces launched an attack on British positions near Mersa Brega, capturing that town on 1 April and rapidly overrunning Cyrenaica. By 8 April Rommel had reached Tobruk, besieging that town before coming to a halt near the Egyptian border.

Surrender of Addis Ababa

The British 11th African Division arrived outside Addis Ababa, capital of Italian East Africa, having traveled via Awash and Harar. They were supported by a general uprising of Ethiopian patriots and the withdrawal of Italian troops to the mountain fortresses of Gondar, Amba Alagi, Dessie, and Gimma. In response, the Italian Viceroy, the Duke of Aosta, ordered the governor to surrender the city to the Allies. Triumphant Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie made a formal entry into his capital on 5 May.

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