World War II: The North African Campaign


The North African Campaign began in June of 1940 and continued for three years, as Axis and Allied forces pushed each other back and forth across the desert. At the beginning of the war, Libya had been an Italian colony for several decades and British forces had been in neighboring Egypt since 1882. The two armies began skirmishing almost as soon as Italy declared war on the Allied Nations in 1940. Italy invaded Egypt in September of 1940, and in a December counterattack, British and Indian forces captured some 130,000 Italians. Hitler's response to this loss was to send in the newly formed "Afrika Korps" led by General Erwin Rommel. Several long, brutal pushes back and forth across Libya and Egypt reached a turning point in the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942, when Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army broke out and drove Axis forces all the way from Egypt to Tunisia. In November, Operation Torch brought in thousands of British and American forces. They landed across western North Africa, and joined the attack, eventually helping force the surrender of all remaining Axis troops in Tunisia in May of 1943 and ending the Campaign for North Africa. (This entry is Part 12 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Danny Lawson / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Jedi Academy, Small Moon, Royal Wedding

    A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, and much more.

  • Mario Tama / Getty

    Photo Updates From Kilauea: The Lava Meets the Sea

    Since Kilauea volcano began its most recent eruptive activity on Hawaii's Big Island three weeks ago, the situation has evolved and worsened.

  • Thomas Peter / Reuters

    A Changing Way of Life for Mongolia’s Dukha Reindeer Herders

    In north central Mongolia, the Dukha people have lived a nomadic life with their reindeer herds for generations—today, that way of life is under pressure.

  • Richard Seeley / Shutterstock

    Travel Monday: A Photo Trip to Southeast Alaska

    Recent images from across southeast Alaska, a narrow strip of coastal islands and mountains that stretches more than 500 miles along the Pacific Ocean.