North African Campaign
Part of World War 2

It was quite a confusing campaign.
Date 10th June 1940 - 13th May 1943
Location Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Malta, Cyprus and anywhere else Easyjet goes.
Result British, Commonwealth and allied victory.
Algeria given to Free French. Libya given to Gadaffi.
Britain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, India, Free FranceFree France and USA France, Italy and Germany
O'Connor, Wavell, Auckinleck, Cunningham, Wellies Wolfe-Marlborough (Monty) GrazianiGraziani, Gadaffi and Rommel
Level 100 Level 99
The slow but inevitable disintegration of the Empire "Ze war, mein Furher!"
“Before Alamein we never won a bloody thing. (Well, apart from the battle of the River Plate, the Madagascan War, sinking the Bismark, the Battle of Britain and the attack on Mers el Kébir.) After Alamein we never had a defeat — apart from Operation Epsom, Antwerp, the Burmese Campaign — Forget it, I'll write a shorter speech.”

The North African Campaign was the only major campaign during the Second World War and was fought across an area the size of Sir Winston Churchill's belly known as the Northern Sahara desert. During rest periods fighting took place in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly over whose turn it was to have a go on the surfboard.

Soldiers of the two belligerents: Britain and her Commonwealth, Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Free France, desperately fought against the might of the Vichy French Empire and her Italian partners to extend the campaign so that they could remain in the sun, as opposed to being sent to help or hinder the Russians. Other minor players in the campaign included the Germans, who played such a small part in the war itself that the Allies left Russia to deal with Germany on her own, and the Americans, who heard that there was beach and sand, opted to land there instead of the coast of Normandy.


The Allies primarily sought a complete and final crushing of the remaining French and Italian Imperial colonies so that Britain could have Africa to itself. A first attempt in 1881 by Lord KitchenerLord Kitchener, to clear a path through the desert to attack the French colonies in Sudan, failed as it was interrupted by the First World War. Spanish fluSpanish flu and the stupidity of the lower-class majority, which had ignored advice of the clear-minded British politiciansBritish politicians, led to the tragic deaths of the whole generation in machine-gun fire. So, when the conflict was over, no soldiers were left to fight colonial wars with.

This time Britain was going to take the French colonies World War or not, and so on the 10th June 1940 Britain started a campaign with the desire for a victorious British, Commonwealth and Allied victory. Alas, victory was had and the campaign ended on the the 13th May 1943.

The Italian invasion of Egypt


Strike a pose.

Unbeknownst to the British, Italy too had its sights set on gaining more colonies, especially in the form of Egypt. Conquering Egypt would allow Italy to gain full control of the Sewage Canal, a waterway capable of expelling the biblical amounts of waste, which once clogged up the beautiful Italian beaches in the Mediterranean, back into the Indian Ocean.

So Benito Mussolini, jingoistic kingpin of new Italy, assembled a group of "lovely Italian ladies" to form his war cabinet with. Utilising their feminine charms, he wooed a large group of delinquents out of prison. These convicts would then go on to form an expeditionary force stupid enough to be sent to the hottest place on Earth without complaint. Their leader was known as General GrazianiGraziani - characterised by his electric moustache which was said to be used to brush his and other people's teeth.

On 8th September 1940, after many months of Mussolini blackmailing General Graziani and reminding him that if he didn't attack the British then "Luigi and his boys would be sent round to make-a some noise" - by which he most certainly wasn't referring to Luigi who ran the gay bar next door - the might of the Italian 10th Army advanced a whole 50 miles across the Libyan-Egyptian border into Egypt. Key water oases and sand dunes were captured and half the local population starved to death because the Italians kept the water to themselves to clean their Ferraris.

It was a huge victory for the Italians and Graziani erected a huge monument in the middle of the Saharan desert where all the camels and cacti could see, in the form of Luigi, the gay bar owner next door to the Government headquarters in Rome, to mark the extinction of the local tribes in that area. However the British did not immediately surrender as expected and the whole affair did not even move them, because they had been previously ordered to slaughter the tribe with machine guns and were glad the Italians did it for them.


In the film “General O’Connor And His Desert Rats”, starring Russel Crowe as General O’Connor, the scene in the boardroom was followed by a scene in the bedroom.

The British retaliation

Five days after the Italians invaded Egypt, Field Marshall Wavell, Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East Forces, availed himself of the perilous allied communication lines across the secretive gay bars of Western Germany, Yugoslavia and Greece. London told him that the Italians had in fact invaded and that there was no time to lose before Ferraris would be sold by dozens in Cairo. Immediately, Wavell set to making plans. He put in place a ban on the selling or purchasing of Italian sports cars in the dominion of Egypt and the concentration of oxygen in the air was increased around the main Egyptian cities, in case any Ferraris came driving by while someone was having a smoke.

Military preparation

General Richard O'Connor, the man in charge of the West Desert Force, looked across the Sahara with his spyglass and confirmed that the Italians were actually at war with Britain and weren't simply helping with tribal pest-control issues. After assembling his generals in the boardroom under the El Hamsa gay bar of central Alexandria, each lieutenant general in turn told General O'Connor that he must retreat to defend the Sewage Canal. Then the directors pointed the cameras at O'Connor and said, "Action." O'Connor began:

"Gentleman, I think we all must agree these are dark and confusing times. Winston Churchill expected us to be at war with the French, but as you can see, they have cooked up an elaborate scheme where we are facing the Italians instead. Nevertheless, just because they won't surrender as easily doesn't mean we turn and run. You have read your scripts well and you have each told me to run away to contrast my heroic British determination to stay and fight. I could ask of no higher standard of advice than that, but remember, gentlemen: we know their weakness and we can exploit it. For many years now, the Italians and the French have been jostling for the position of the best cuisine in Europe. With this in mind, when we strike them, they will become divided and turn against each other. Their greed will be their downfall. Churchill needs a great victory for the British public and an excuse to prove to the Americans and Russians that we too care about stopping Fascism. The Italians will be determined to stop us. But we, my friends, are the few - the happy few who will owe so much to so many when Churchill comes to write that speech about us."[1]

Operation Compass

“Compasses - not strength or intelligence - are the key to finding out which bloody way's North in the desert.”

With a plan devised on a camel's rear end with a single piece of chalk by an Eton-educated young Second Lieutenant in the Prince Albert's Own 11th Hussars Regiment while out traversing the paths across the Nile delta, O'Connor prepared to meet the Italians head on. The plan involved the use of First World War style tanks, whose armour could not be penetrated by the enemy's guns. These would drive out into the desert under enemy fire and then form the special new formation taught to them specifically for this operation - Compass Formation. On the command "Form Compass," the tanks of the 7th Armoured Division would make a giant compass shape visible from the air with the needle, of course pointing North. The Italians would then see this and presume that their own tanks were signalling for their army to move North. Then the 4th Indian Division's infantry could be used to push them into the sea. This elaborate scheme was Britain's only chance against the Italians' superiority in numbers - Mussolini had run a harsh maths training program for the officers of the Italian Army.

On the 7th December 1940, the British tanks moved into position. A day later, after many road blockages, tank malfunctions and tea breaks they arrived at their starting positions. Then, slowly and silently, the armoured force swept into the desert and enacted their Compass Formation. However, the British were unaware of the true Italian positions and the Italians had actually advanced further into Egypt than had been calculated on a Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle at Bletcheley Park. This was because the British had not taken into account the unprecedented speed of Italian tanks. When the Compass Formation was formed, the Italians became trapped inside, in stronghold forts. O'Connor ordered that the forts be busted and the British tanks happily did so, in what came known as the Battle of the Camps, as the British armour was too hard for even Italian fortified camps to penetrate. Vast amounts of Italian second hand car dealers were captured as they attempted to flee to a more friendly consumer-orientated region.


The British plan of attack for Bardia.

By 10th December, the British had begun to push the Italians back into Libya. When arriving at one of the last Egyptian cities, Sidi Barrani, one British infantryman described the scene as the Italian army routed, "I looked at the columns of soldiers. It was sad to see so many in such despair. Weeks of travelling across the most harsh terrain known to Man only for their commanding officer to tell them that the Italians had taken away the brothels." The British easily took the city, forcing the surrender of one of Mussolini's most fearsome divisions, the Blackshirts, so-named as the versatile special unit was not versatile enough to have washing machines with them on the march.

A few days later, the 4th Indian Division was replaced with the 6th Australian Division, as the British public had begun to notice the great victory in the desert and the politicians didn't want the newspapers spoilt with pictures of "coloured people" being able to defeat the mighty Italians.

The British forces then went on into Libya to capture Bardia, through a trick they learnt off the Italian Pizzerias, by slicing the town in two. Tobruk fell on 22nd January 1941 giving a major port and supply route to the British, who could let the much needed rifles, tanks, cricket bats, and brothels catch up with the men. A fierce armoured battle occurred round the town of Derna in Libya, but the British got the better of the Italians by standing on top of their Crusader Tanks and singing racist chants at the Italians. The Italians, realising that nothing could stop a mob of English football hooligans, withdrew from the area.

The capture of Libya

The Italians were almost completely wiped out of North Africa, leaving the 5th Army in Tripolitania. Britain had taken half of Libya as its own colony and left the rubbish bits to Italy. Churchill, already annoyed that Britain had won a victory that had no impact on World politics at all, called it a day off and ordered the 6th Australian Division off to help Greece and pinch some more stock for the British Museum on the way. This left a small, scattered force defending the front in Libya, although the Italians had given up on the fight anyway, preferring to spend time delighting in the women, food, and large market for Ferraris that Tripolitania had to offer.

The French swap sides

“If you have a captured Frenchman in your possession, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the skull once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.”
~ Winston Churchill on the French

France's extravagant plan to defeat Britain in the War had not come out as well as the French had hoped. After a French invasion of the Ruhr land in 1922 had successfully encouraged the Germans to start a war, France had pretended to help the British to defeat the Germans in the war. It had hoped that, as in the First World War, Britain would send over a large expeditionary force that would be crushed by the Germans forcing the British population to capitulate and then France to reveal itself as the perpetrator of Germany and France's alliance for World Domination. Instead Britain had merely hosted one of the largest dinghy and yacht boat shows ever seen on the beaches of Dunkirk, which the French weren't invited to until room became available on the beaches, then sailed off and returned to Britain forcing France to keep up the pretence that it had been on the allied side of the war and letting Germany take half its territory.


"Do I look sexy with these sunglasses, Hans?" Rommel planning his next attack.

After this humiliation Petain, the leader of France (now called Vichy France), needed to solve three political disasters. Firstly to enact revenge upon the British by course of aggressive military action, secondly to prove to his people that he was Conservative leader with traditional French values (something that the voters had insisted on - especially the leader of the Holy Roman Empire, Herr Adolf) and thirdly to show the Italians that the French really did have the greatest cuisine in all of Europe. Petain considered that an invasion of Libya by French forces and the French colonisation of both Libya and Egypt would solve all of his problems. It would give the British something to think about, he could use the excuse that it was a Holy Crusade to Jerusalem to uphold traditional French promises and he could use the resources available and the canal to mass produce "Cuisses de Grenouille" and "Escargots" for the whole world to enjoy.

However the French were in no position to land a large scale invasion force of the coast of North Africa. This was because in July 1940 the British had decided to host a 142nd Anniversary of the Battle of the Nile re-enactment at the French port of Mers el Kébir. The Royal Navy diverted itself from defending Britain's coastline to sinking all the French ships in the harbour without loss to a single British ship, sticking rigidly to the actual events of the Battle of the Nile itself. Then to make sure every element of the Battle of the Nile had been covered the British purposely ran aground a ship in the mouth of the French harbour to resemble the moment when the HMS Culloden ran aground at the Nile. This blocked any passage of ships and supplies in and out of the French port and so the port had to be abandoned.

With the French fleet all but gone Marshall Petain was forced to call on the Germans for help, who loaned the French a large fleet of landing craft, some German divisions, a brilliant General named Erwin Rommel and a baguette for each Frenchman (provided they weren't gay, Jewish or Socialist) to cheer them up. The French would provide Vichy troops to the cause.

The French push the British back


The French bid au revoir to what is left of their fleet.

While the British troops were getting pushed out of Greece by the Germans, who wanted desperately to own most of Europe's debt, the French and German reinforcement troops landed in the port of Tripoli in the form of the Afrika Korps. Rommel decided on a hasty attack to catch the British off guard, so on 24th March 1941 during afternoon tea, he opened fire on the British defences. The British fortifications, mainly made of sandcastles crumbled and the British troops - now named XIII Corps, an irony that Wavell failed to get to grips with - were pushed all the way back to Tobruk.

Along the way General O'Connor, with the idea of inspiring his men to fight to the bitter end, had landed his plane in the British front lines, however due to poor communication he had actually landed in the German front lines and so was captured. This was a great blow to the Allied army who were forced to throw away the cake they had baked for him specially for his birthday.

Eventually the Axis stalled near to the Libyan-Egyptian border. Tobruk had become isolated by the Axis army. It was separated from the Allied front lines and put under siege. Churchill suddenly took great interest in the events of the Desert War calling the siege of Tobruk, "comparable to the siege of Leningrad." He then ordered that minimal supplies should be sent to Tobruk to make the defenders seem even braver in the British public's eyes. This caused an unfortunate break out of cannibalism in which the Australian defence force and local population dwindled. The commanding officer eventually managed to stop the madness and instead fed the city on its sewage and large camel population. A spout of typhoid and cholera later and the Axis still could not get into Tobruk.

Operations behind enemy lines

Around this time in the Desert Campaign, the SAS were formed under their original name the "Long Range Desert Task Force". They were supposed to be used to penetrate deep behind enemy lines, blow up petrol dumps and write books about it when they were older with the word "Eagle" or "Daring" in the title. However there were two instance when they were used for something much more important than that.


"Well, as you know, I always felt we tried to go a midge too far."

Firstly in late 1941, the "Long Range Desert Task Force" spotted "Le Task Force Long Ranged de le Desserte" (Idiot translation: the French equivalent) on the horizon. The commanding officer immediately ordered a pursuit and the British jeep intercepted the French Renault. Thanks to the daringness and skill of the men in each group neither would except firing at the enemy unless a shot could be performed that would make it into a Hollywood movie. As this shot never became available due to the fact that both sides had sniper rifles aimed out of a moving truck at another moving truck which were both driving round in circles on the rough terrain, after a few hours both task forces went back to base camp.

The other incident occurred when three midges bit General Bernard 'Monty' Montgomery on the neck during his final pursuit of Rommel's forces in late 1942. So angered that a midge would dare bite him after he had just defeated the greatest General on all of Earth, he ordered the Long Range Desert Task Force to shoot the midges and bring them back to him as a birthday gift. Unfortunately the price of this endeavour ended up at 23 casualties due to the small size of one particular midge and the nature of it to fly round the Allied camp as it was being machine gunned.

The Empire Strikes Back (II)

Operation Battleaxe

Operation Battleaxe was Field Marshall Wavell's plan to lift the siege of Tobruk, restore the reputation of XIII Corps, give Churchill something to boast about to the Russians and bring down a great fist of freedom into the balls of Fascism.

After it failed, the stalemate continued and the British reviewed their situation. It was decided that the only reason Rommel was beating them is that XIII Corps just wasn't British enough. It was comprised of mostly colonial or Commonwealth soldiers and rumour was that Wavell himself had French heritage. What the British needed was a great, dashing British General with a name that could only be uttered down the halls and dormitories of Harrow and Westminster, this was of course, General Claude Auchinleck. Of course by this time the British politicians had forgotten that Wavell's first name was "Archibald".

The Western Desert Force was expanded to two Corps and named the Eighth Army in hope that more men would help to win the war, a tactic that General Haig had attempted to copyright a few days before the Battle of the Somme. The new reinforcements included a large amount of the South African Army in hope that these troops would bring with them methods on how to deal with rioting native people.

Rommel once again tried to capture Tobruk but could not bring himself to ruining such a peaceful little industrial port city.

Operation Crusader


An artist's impression of the British infantry surrounded by the German Panzers during Operation Crusader.

During 1941 General Auchinleck and his subordinate, Lt. General Cunningham had been preparing to launch another offensive that would relieve Tobruk and recapture that wonderful cricket ground just outside El Agheila. The British troops had undergone rigorous training such as peeing in their helmets while on the move in lorries, practicing how to remove French flags from flag poles and learning how to play Monopoly to pass the time. The outcome of this was a large mix-up in fresh water supplies, major rope-burn with some cases of altitude sickness and a deep understanding of how to avoid a financial crisis and recover from the war-ruined economy for the next 20 years to come.

The attack came on 18th November 1941, 7th Armoured Division advanced towards the Axis front lines. After dealing with the Italians, who had decided that the British were honest enough to deal the cards in the poker game, the British commanders knocked out each Axis commander in the game one by one. Once the last Axis commander was defeated, the British hauled their winnings onto the back of a Matador lorry and continued in their tanks towards Tobruk.


'Almighty fuck up dead ahead sir'. General Montgomery waits to join the story (see below).

Soon the Tobruk garrison joined in the attack by harassing Rommel's supply lines, convinced that they would be able to find the missing brothels that the Italians had stolen amongst the Italian lorries. Instead the British simply found caravans and so started a whole craze of going on holiday to the beach in a caravan which would continue after the war for many years to come.

Eventually the 7th Armoured Division ran into the two German Panzer Divisions. Up to this point the British tank commanders had never needed to fire their tank guns as the Italian tanks hadn't had any guns anyway so the British had just ignored them and the Italian tanks ran away so fast that the British could never get a bearing on them anyway. German tanks however did have guns and their guns were better than the British guns. Nevertheless when the 4th Armoured Brigade came in contact with the 15 Light Panzer Division and the British commanding officer after being given his cup of tea had gone through the whole, "Tanks" "My pleasure" joke with his subordinate, the commanding officer ordered the tanks to form up in a cavalry diamond formation and prepare to charge the Germans. Each British tank commander readied his saber and then charged down the sand dune towards the German tank line. In what became known as the "Charge of the Light Tank Brigade" the British Stuart Tanks were shot to pieces before they ever reached the enemy line.

The blunder in tactics was to cost them the whole operation. The rest of the 7th Armoured Division was defeated at Sidi Rezegh, a town famous for being the scene of the defeat of the Allied armour. The rest of the Allied infantry that followed the tanks soon became bogged down in small fire fights, as the Italians had unhelpfully washed their tanks with jet fuel and so the fires from their burning remains had to be extinguished before the advance could continue. The Afrika Korps headquarters was raided by a New Zealand Brigade however most of the important German generals were out so the New Zealanders left a message telling the missing Germans, that they had been out when the raid was carried out and please could they contact Middle Eastern Command to re-schedule a raid for another day.

Rommel's counterattack

As the British became more and more disorganised Rommel organised a counter attack to be launched. It would hook round underneath the Allied front line and metaphorically jab the Allies up the bottom. The Allies could then be encircled and forced to watch German car adverts projected across the desert onto desert tent canvas before they surrendered from knowing the inevitable - that one day the British car industry would succumb to the German car industry. The irony of course was that the British needn't have been worried about the Italian car industry at all.


"I'm sure I saw some Allied tanks around here earlier Mario."

Rommel's Panzer Divisions pushed hard into the depths of the Desert wiping out the recently reformed 7th Armoured Division. When the German tanks advanced to 15 miles away from the main Allied supply dump, Cunningham assembled his lt. generals in his tent and each in turn informed him that all was lost and a retreat to the Nile Delta to defend the Sewage Canal was the only option. Then the camera turned to Cunningham:

"Gentleman, thank you for your words of advice. When I was in the East African Campaign, I was decorated with many medals for bravely ridding the lands of the local Axis-Friendly Vichy troops and natives. But this time we face the Germans - a race built on the perseverance of precision engineering. They will do anything to let their scholars study the angle of the bank in the Sewage Canal, the internal structure of the Egyptian pyramids and then criticise the workers for not being precise to 0.0001mm in their measurements. To be honest the way I see it is that there's no harm in letting them do that. We should all become friends really, this whole bloody war should stop. It should end here, right now with us signing a treaty with the Germans. I mean after all we're all human beings aren't we?"

The whole room stared at Cunningham in disbelief. They then looked through their scripts to try and find the speech. They were sure he'd read it wrong but then one of them noticed something, the next line claimed that the door would fly open. The door flew open, the dramatic music cued and Claude Auchinleck stepped through the door. He spoke,

"Gentleman this is no time for whimpering and cowering in the face of the mighty French Empire and her ally the Holy Roman Empire. We are the British and we fight against all odds. Do you think that when the hundred men at Rorke's Drift saw the 4000 Zulus charging towards them they ran away in fear? NO! Yes, they had rifles not spears. Yes they were trained soldiers not farmers. But the point is they didn't behave like babies. What we should do is completely ignore the fact that Rommel is about to cut off our whole supply line and instead send a message out to every unit in the desert reading, "Everything is fine, enemy beaten. Please continue advancing.""

Rommel retreats

And so it was that the British did this. Rommel, being told that the British were completely ignoring the car adverts and instead marching past him, suspecting the British were up to something so himself retreated. The Germans thus moved back to El Agheila.

Rommel breaks through

“If you're going through hell, could you get me some marmite? I'm running low at the moment.”

The Axis finally received a large amount of supplies, which were scarce in the Axis Army as they seemed adamant to spend it on the minor war on the Eastern Front. This prompted Rommel to attack the Allied positions in June 1942 at Gazala. This time the Allies had had enough, the poker cards had been ruined when generals had scribbled beautiful Egyptian girls' phone numbers all over them and so they had nothing to play with, they ran all the way back to Egypt.

Tobruk falls


Morale was vital for keeping the troops in fighting condition. Pictured are the winners of the bimonthly "Most Pilots in one Spitfire while Flying" competition from December 1941.

As Rommel drove past Tobruk, he sent in a squad of Germans to capture the city. They attempted to trick the Aussie defenders by attacking head on, a concept that neither the ill-educated nor the over paranoid and incompetent British commanders couldn't get their heads round and so surrendered. Churchill exclaimed that day, "This truly is a terrible day for true British grit," as he observed the shell holes that had ruined his vegetable patch.

First Battle of El Alamein


Another German intelligence failure. Whilst Rommel went for an extended toilet break, James Mason impersonated him for 90 minutes and ensured an Axis failure in North Africa.

The British retreated to a railway station in Egypt named, "El Alamein." It was hoped that they could get an express route back to Alexandria however the troops realised they couldn't afford the tickets because it was at peak times and they hadn't booked 50 days in advance to get the third off price deal.

Auchinleck, who had asked Cunningham to retire from his post (the British way of sacking people) decided that he had no choice but to attempt to defend the station for 50 days so as to get the cheap tickets. Through the use of minefield and other pocket war games such as battleships the British managed to successfully prevent the Germans from reaching the Nile Delta. The front line halted and yet another stalemate ensued.

Churchill tired of re-drawing his map of Europe almost twenty times in the previous year thanks to the back and forth nature of the campaign decided to sack Auchinleck, being British wasn't the key ingredient after all. His replacements were General Alexander as Commander of the Middle East and the person no one remembers from history who was shot down on his way to North Africa as commander of the Eighth Army.

North-East Africa opens up

So far during the campaign hundreds of thousands of men had been pumped into a stalemate blood bath over one of the least resource-full or arable land in the World, so the British General Command Headquarters decided that it was time to send more men into the bloodshed to resolve the situation. For many months the British desert commanders had been blaming their failures on the lack of light at night time in the desert during night attacks. "If only each man were supplied with a torch," commented Cunningham.

In response to this Churchill made an effort to give every man in the eigth army a torch, declaring that, "Soon, if we are not careful the Jerries will start bombing Cairo for thinking that with so many lights on it was instead London." The Americans had recently joined the war and a certain General George Patton overheard the fact that the whole of North Africa was teeming with torches. Being American he naturally mistook the fact that a torch refers to an electrical device which emits light and instead presumed it to be a flame on a stick. Back in the US flames on sticks had been banned along with "flashlights" as there was a paranoia that North Korea might notice one and fire a nuclear missile in the direction of it and so Patton had not been able to light his cigar for months. Therefore on the basis that he needed a nicotine rush, Patton took command of an army and initiated an American invasion of Morocco, in Operation Torch.

Operation Torch


'Slap happy' General Patton.

When Patton and his troops arrived they found that the British had sent another army to help as they were worried that the Americans couldn't handle the Vichy French on their own. Determined to prove that the Americans were good soldiers Patton told the British that he "bet he could reach Tripoli faster than the British Western Desert Force could" a challenge that the British took up before realising that they had almost double the distance to go than the Americans as Patton had presumed Tripoli was the Capital of Tripolitania when actually it was in Libya, Patton had meant Tunis. However, as Patton himself commented, the British had already had a year and a half's headstart.

Operation Torch was successful and the French almost immediately surrendered before converting to the Allies side, by now the French had come into acceptance that their World domination plans were down the drains now that so many had turned against them and worked out it was better to carry on with the pretence of favouring the Allies.

Pursuit of the Germans to Tripoli

Patton found the march into Tripolitania easy going as all the enemy's units were still stuck fighting the Western Desert Force. Worried that the human race in the future might have thought the attack to be pointless and dull, Patton commissioned many God-awful 1970s films about Americans blowing up Nazi fuel dumps in the North African Desert to be repeated on Film4 every Sunday afternoon. This kept up the image for years to come that Operation Torch was actually more helpful in winning the war than invading Vichy France or Nazi Germany itself.

The Eastern stalemate is broken

After a desperate search for a new commander they settled on Lord Wellies Wolfe-Marlborough - Monty as he was affectionately known for his role as an extra in the background of series 2, episode 5, scene 4 of Monty Python. He had heard about the planned Operation Torch landings in November 1942 and decided that the British had to get to Tunis faster than the American's could say spell "I will fulfil my duty and get to the harbour first." As the American lieutenant in charge of this challenge sat down with a pen and a pad of 100 fresh new A4 sheets, Monty wielded a plan into action.


When tanks proved useless the British had to revert to their sense of humour to deploy Monty's killer joke.

Monty's plan consisted of staging a magic show in the South of his front line called "Now you see tanks, now you don't - wait, there they are!" with the famous "Half Monty, Full Monty" trick involving a saw and a large wooden box. This would keep the German's occupied while the British attack came through the North and the Centre of the line. Rommel's plan was simple, he had to halt the British and rush hundreds of miles across the desert to halt the Americans at exactly the same moment with only 10 litres of fuel left for the whole army - a trick that far out shone any of Monty's magic tricks.

Second Battle of El Alamein

By this time the American lieutenant had worked out there was an "o" in "harbur" [sic.] but still had too many "l"s to spell "fulfil" with so Monty needed to attack. On 23rd October 1942, Monty attacked. Engineers went ahead of the main field to scout out the bars and inns of Libya, so that the British soldiers knew where to head to. These men were followed by both infantry and tanks who broke the German lines successfully. From Rommel's position at the rear of the German lines he could see the British infantry jumping up and down and doing Hitler impressions on the hill in front of him. Disgusted by the imprecision of the British soldiers' angle of levitation for Hitler's right arm he turned away and ordered to be driven back to Tripoli. His generals took this as a sign that for him the battle - and the war - was over.

The British were told to stop with their Hitler impressions as there was plenty of time to that at the local football club back home and instead carry on pursuing the Germans.

It is said by some historians that the actual reason that the fuel supply in North Africa had run out is because an anti-Nazi German Officer under the name Herr Cruise had drunk the whole fuel depot dry. He sat in his tent as the German army routed around him, while trying to think of a codename for the planned German retreat. Then a shell went off near by and knocked the record player's needle onto the record player. The Flight of the Bumblebee tune began to play. He stood up, "Mein Gott! Operation Bumbelhousenbrechen (Eng. translation:My God, Operation Bumblebee)." He was later shot against a wall by an SS squad along with his cousin Herr Cruise who had been a member of Operation Valkyrie, another plot of treachery.

Monty's Pursuit

Monty decided to pursue Rommel carefully as the Germans had a habit of leaving spike strips out on roads that would puncture any vehicle's tyres which rolled over it and the British hadn't quite got the hang of the fact that tanks don't have tyres, as they still had old-school cavalry officers in charge of tank regiments. After a short break at the Libyan border to groom and brush down the tanks, the pursuit continued through Libya and into Tunisia.

Tunisian Campaign


Axis soldiers tried to sneak away in fancy dress.

Both the Americans and the Brits entered Tunisia at roughly the same time. The Germans put up one last spout of fierce resistance before they realised, like Rommel but not as soon as Rommel had, as they were not as talented as Rommel, that there wasn't really any chance of winning the campaign. So they ordered the Italians to take them back to Europe in some boats, along with two pizzas and their finest wine from Napoli. The Italian waiter then swam back to Rome to convey the orders, mistakenly to the Pope at first who asked God to lift the German souls out of Tunisia and back to Germany. After nothing happened the waiter then told Mussolini who could only give the Germans the boats and two "lovely pretty ladies" to "make-a up for the mistake-a."


Victory in the North African Campaign was short-lived, however, as after the war, the British colonies rebelled and gained their independence, leading then-Prime Minister Clement Attlee to remark, "What a waste of 220,000 men" as he lay a wreath to the hundreds of thousands of Indians who had died in the last two centuries thanks to British Imperial Aggression.

In retaliation to the colonies' betrayal after all that Britain and the colonies had gone through together, the arguments, revolts, rebellions and yet the passion and love they shared, Britain ignored the colonies' participation in the Campaign and named the troops who fought in the campaign as the "Desert Rats", the nickname for the British armoured division who fought in it. Britain even omitted the 51st Highland Division, which as Alex Salmond keenly pointed out, hinted that Britain didn't consider Scotland part of Britain either.


  1. Churchill would later use those words to describe the victory of the Battle of Britain which he thought more worthy of them than a petty colonial war.

See Also


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