For many centuries, North Africa has been an attractive prize for many Imperial powers. In spite of the fact that this mainly desert area has limited natural resources, North Africa is strategically important as it opens the way to the oil resources of the Middle East.
In the 20th Century, this area became a real ‘Crucible of War’. In the 1930’s, many Imperial powers wanted this prize & by 1940 conflict had come to a head.
Fighting began in June 1940, when the Italian Army attacked the British. In the period up to early 1941, the British Army achieved some success, however, the German Army also decided to enter the conflict in February 1941 because of the strategic importance of the area. The nature of the terrain & the area’s climate dictated the strategy & tactics of the fighting which was conducted in a ‘chivalrous’ manner. During these campaigns, Erwin Rommel & Bernard Montgomery were major participants.
Following the main battle of the campaign at El Alamein in October 1942, the Italo-German Army retreated to Tunis where the survivors surrendered on May 13th 1943. The strategic initiative in the Mediterranean had passed to the Allies, and German plans to seize control of the Suez Canal & Middle Eastern oil resources had been shattered. The defeat of the Italian Army led to the fall of Mussolini & the invasion of Italy by the Allies was inevitable.
The North African campaigns are already a popular subject for both modellers & manufacturers alike. This is no surprise as the war here was more ‘exotic’ than on other fronts. Picture Matilda and Valentine tanks in their intricate desert camouflage; Italian tanks perhaps surrounded by sandbags as improvised protection; Rommel’s dusty Panzers; Bearded men of the LRDG with their jeeps; not to mention Pith Helmets, Shorts, Camels and Palm Trees!
We hope that you are inspired to create figures & dioramas on the theme of the ‘War in the Desert – North Africa, 1940-1943’ and look forward to seeing your work!