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History Lessons by Jonathan Gifford

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BERNARD MONTGOMERY

(1887–1986)

The war in North Africa had begun well for Britain. Italy had entered the war in June 1940 as an ally of Germany and had invaded Egypt from Italian Libya, in the hope of capturing the Suez Canal. In November 1941, Commonwealth forces successfully pushed Italian forces out of Egypt, overrunning most of Libya and capturing 113,000 Italian prisoners. Before the Commonwealth troops could drive the Italian army out of North Africa, they were diverted to defend Greece. This allowed time for Hitler to support his ally, Mussolini, by despatching the German Afrikakorps to North Africa, commanded by Erwin Rommel.

Rommel quickly drove the British out of Libya, striking too quickly to allow the build-up of defensive positions, ...

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