The Second World War for Africa began much earlier than for the Soviet Union and European states as a whole. It was on the African continent that the first fascist-launched aggressive war began - an attack by fascist Italy on sovereign Ethiopia (then the country was called Abyssinia) in 1935. As you know, at the end of the 19th century, Italy had already attempted to colonize Ethiopia. The Italo-Ethiopian War 1895-1896 ended with the defeat of the Italian troops. In the famous battle of Adua, the Italian troops suffered a crushing defeat. With the mediation of the Russian Empire, the signing of the 26 peace treaty in October 1896 in Addis Ababa was organized. In accordance with the peace treaty, Italy recognized the political sovereignty of Ethiopia and paid indemnity to the country. This was the first case of not only the total defeat of the European state in the colonial war, but also the payment of indemnity to the African state. Naturally, the revanchist sentiment, mixed with a feeling of revenge for such a humiliating insult inflicted by Ethiopia, for many years spread among the Italian political and military elite. Only forty years later, the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini decided to attack Abyssinia, which by that time was the only independent state of the African continent besides the one created by African-American repatriates of Liberia.
Attack on Ethiopia: Second Italian-Ethiopian War
The fascist leadership of Italy saw in the aggressive war against Ethiopia not only revenge for the shameful defeat at Adua and the loss of the first Italo-Ethiopian war, but also a possible step towards the creation of a large Italian colony in North-East Africa, which would unite Italian Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Since Italy still did not have the strength to compete with Great Britain or France on the African continent, and wanted to increase its colonial possessions, Rome had no choice but to return to the long-standing idea of capturing Ethiopia. Moreover, militarily, Italy in 1935 was very different from Italy in 1895. The fascist government managed to significantly increase the military power of the Italian state, to rearm the ground units, Aviation and the navy, to form and train quite numerous colonial troops recruited from the inhabitants of the North African and East African colonies - Libya, Eritrea and Somalia. The European powers actually refused to assist Ethiopia in repelling Italian aggression. So, in 1935, European countries refused to sell weapons for the Ethiopian army, while not supporting the proposal of the Soviet Union to impose an embargo on the supply of oil and oil products to Italy. Direct support for Italian fascism in the war of aggression against Ethiopia was provided by Nazi Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
Italy’s indirectly aggressive actions were also supported by countries that later became the basis of the “anti-hilerian coalition” - the United States, Great Britain and France. The United States was guided solely by its own economic interests, so the supply of equipment, oil and metal to Italy from the United States has not been stopped. Britain did not prohibit the passage of Italian ships through the Suez Canal, which was controlled by the British, and therefore, in fact, contributed to the strengthening of the Italian naval grouping in the Red Sea. France gave Italy a part of the Somali territory from which the attack on Ethiopia was carried out - in return, Paris expected Italy to get approval on the issue of Tunisia.
Against Ethiopia, a large and well-armed group of Italian troops was concentrated with a total strength of 400 thousand troops. The group included 9 divisions of the Italian regular army (seven infantry divisions, one alpine and one motorized division), 6 divisions of the fascist militia, and units of the Italian colonial troops. The group was armed with 6 machine guns, 000 artillery pieces, 700 tankettes and 150 aircraft. Until November 150, the commander-in-chief of the group was General Emilio de Bono, and from November 1935, field commander Marshal Pietro Badoglio. The Italian army was opposed by the armed forces of Ethiopia, the number of which ranged from 1935 to 350 thousand troops. Despite a comparable strength, the Ethiopian army was significantly inferior in both preparation and armament. The Ethiopian army had only 760 obsolete artillery pieces, about 200 anti-aircraft guns, 50 light tanks and 12 Air Force biplanes, of which only 3 biplanes could fly into the air.
3 October 1935 in the 5 o'clock in the morning Italy launched an aggressive war against Ethiopia. From the territory of the Italian colonies in East Africa, Eritrea and Somalia crossed the Ethiopian border units of the Italian ground forces under the command of Marshal Emilio de Bono. The Italian air force launched a bombardment of the city of Adua - the very one where the Italians had a crushing defeat in the first Italian-Ethiopian war. Thus began the second Italian-Ethiopian war, which became one of the first heralds of the Second World War. At about 10 in the morning the emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie ordered the general mobilization of the male population of the country. Despite the repeated superiority of the strength of the Italian army, the Ethiopians managed to organize a fairly effective resistance to the aggressor. History The second Italian-Ethiopian war knows many examples of heroism and courage displayed by Ethiopian soldiers. Thus, the city of Abbey Addy was captured by the Italians, but then, as a result of a four-day assault, was liberated by a unit of the Ethiopian army. During the battle of Abbey Addy, the Italians lost several tanks, which were put out of action by the Ethiopian troops.
The weakness of the Italian army was due to the low moral readiness of the Italian soldiers for the war, flourishing corruption and embezzlement in the armed forces and organizations related to the supply of uniforms and food. It was the failures of the Italian army that forced Mussolini to remove the commander-in-chief. In violation of the Geneva Convention 1925, the Italian army began to use in Ethiopia a chemical weapon. Ultimately, by the spring of 1936, there was already a clear turnaround during the fighting. The final of the company was the battle at Mai-Chou, which is north of Lake Ashenge. Here, the 31-thousandth Ethiopian army collided with the 125-thousandth Italian troops, armed with 210 artillery guns, 276 tanks and several hundred air force planes. The power superiority of the Italians was multiple.
31 March 1936, the battle began, in which the Ethiopian troops at first even managed to push the Italians back a little. But then the enemy’s artillery entered into action, and the Italian Air Force began to strike the positions of the Ethiopian troops. On April 2, the Italian troops who had launched a counteroffensive managed to destroy almost the entire Ethiopian Imperial Guard with artillery fire - the pride and core of the country's armed forces. Haile Selassie's car was seized by the Italians. In fact, the Ethiopian army was finally defeated. The emperor of Ethiopia appealed for help to the world community, which, however, was not heard by any major European power. Only volunteers from India, Egypt, the Union of South Africa and the United States of America arrived to help the fighting Ethiopian army. Were in the Ethiopian army and the Italian anti-fascists, including Domenico Rolla, Ilio Barontini and Anton Ukmar, nicknamed by the Ethiopians "three apostles".
By the end of April 1936, the Italian forces managed to crush the resistance of the last regular units of the Ethiopian army. On May 2, Emperor Haile Selassie was evacuated to Djibouti, and on May 5, Italian troops entered the capital of the country, Addis Ababa. 8 May 1936 was busy Harar. Italy announced the annexation of Ethiopia, and on May 9 of 1936, the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel III, was proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia. 1 June 1936 was established a colony of Italian East Africa, comprising Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somalia. However, the Italian occupying forces could not fully control the territory of Ethiopia. A large-scale partisan war began in the country, the conduct of which was facilitated by the mountainous landscape and climatic conditions of Ethiopia, which impeded the vital activity of the Italian troops. The partisan formations were commanded by representatives of the traditional Ethiopian nobility and former military leaders, who retained control over certain areas of the country. In the west of Ethiopia, the Black Lions guerrilla group was created, in the vicinity of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway line, a detachment of Fikra Mariam was operating, and in the north-east of Harar province, a race of Nasibu. Until the end of December, 1936 continued the battles in the provinces of Gojam, Volleg and Ilubabar, where Italian troops were opposed by troops under the command of the race Imru. In the spring of 1937, the anti-Italian uprising began in Vollo and Tigre, in August 1937 began in the province of Gojam. At the same time, the Ethiopian partisans launched attacks against the Italian fascist administration in Addis Ababa. Thus, on February 19 1937, an attempt was made on A. Gratsiani, in retaliation for which Italian troops destroyed about 30 thousands of local residents only for several days. The guerrilla war in Ethiopia occupied by the Italians continued until 1941. Great Britain put the point in the Italian occupation of Ethiopia after the official start of World War II. 2 December 1940 was ordered to begin preparations for the offensive of British troops in Ethiopia.
In January, 1941, British troops invaded Ethiopia from three directions at once — from Kenya through Italian Somalia, from Aden through British Somalia, and from Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. 31 January 1941 The British defeated Italian troops of General Frushi, in March they launched an attack on Harar, and 25 in March occupied this strategically important Ethiopian city. The Italian forces were unable to resist the strong British army. On April 4, fighting began in the vicinity of Addis Ababa, and on April 6, 1941 in Addis Ababa was taken by Ethiopian troops. 5 May 1941 Emperor Haile Selassie returned to the country. Fascist Italy suffered another defeat in Ethiopia - this time from the British troops and the Ethiopian partisan resistance units that helped them. In total, 275 000 soldiers of the Ethiopian army and militia died during the Italian-Ethiopian war, 181 000 Ethiopians were executed or died in the Italian concentration camps, and about 300 000 died of starvation caused by war and destruction.
Queen african soldiers
If Ethiopia fought against the Italian fascists for its independence, being a sovereign state before the invasion of Mussolini’s troops in 1935, many African countries that were colonies of Great Britain, France or Belgium became suppliers of human resources for the armies of countries participating in the anti-Hitler coalition. Among all the African colonies of European countries - participants of the anti-Hitler coalition, the most numerous contingents of troops were exhibited by the British colonies in East, West and South Africa. In East Africa, Britain ruled the territories of present-day Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, as well as part of Somalia and island territories.
On the territory of the East African colonies of Great Britain as early as 1902, a regiment of royal African riflemen was created, which included six battalions differing in the place of their recruitment. The first and second battalions were recruited in Nyasaland (Malawi), the third in Kenya, the fourth and fifth in Uganda, the sixth in Somaliland. In 1910, the Ugandan and Somaliland battalions were disbanded to save. By the time World War II began, two East African infantry brigades had been established on the basis of a regiment of Royal African Riflemen. The first brigade was designed to defend the coast of East Africa from the possible landing of German and Italian troops, the second - for actions in the depths of the African continent. In addition, a Somali camel hull was formed in British Somalia, and in 1942-1943. - Two infantry battalions, staffed by Somali soldiers - "Askari".
By the end of July, 1940 had established two more East African infantry brigades. In the five years of World War II, a total of 43 infantry battalions, an armored car regiment, transport, engineering and engineer and communications units of the Royal African Riflemen were created. Ordinary and non-commissioned officers in the units of the Royal African Riflemen were staffed by Africans - Kenyans, Ugandans, Nyasalands, Tanzanians. In officers' positions served as personnel officers of the British army. Royal African riflemen took part in hostilities against the Italian troops in East Africa, against the French collaborators in Madagascar, and against the Japanese troops in Burma. Together with the Royal African Rifles, the Rhodesian African Riflemen fought - a military unit with British officers and black privates, formed in 1940 in Rhodesia and in 1945 transferred to Southeast Asia - Burma, where they were to fight with the Japanese armed forces occupied this British colony in Indochina. Ordinary and non-commissioned officers of the Rhodesian African riflemen were staffed just from fellow countrymen Robert Mugabe - future citizens of the sovereign state of Zimbabwe, and at the time of the events in question - residents of the British colony of Southern Rhodesia.
In the West African colonies of Great Britain to the beginning of the twentieth century. West African border troops were formed, staffed by the native population of Nigeria, Gold Coast (Ghana), Sierra Leone and the Gambia. During the Second World War, on the basis of the West African border troops, the 81 and 82 West African infantry divisions were formed. Units of the West African troops took part in the hostilities in the territory of Italian Somalia and Ethiopia, fought against the Japanese in Burma. The British command believed that African soldiers, accustomed to the tropical and equatorial climate, would be able to more effectively fight in the jungles of Indochina against Japanese units than troops recruited in Europe. It should be noted that the East African and West African units of the British colonial forces fulfilled their combat missions with honor. Tens of thousands of Africans - inhabitants of the British colonies - died on the fronts of the Second World War, fighting with the Italian, German and Japanese fascists.
Glorious and sad history of Senegalese shooters
Since political power in France after the invasion of the Nazis in the country was in the hands of the collaborators of the Vichy government, the armed forces of the country split. Some remained loyal to the Vichy government, some took the side of the French Resistance. The disengagement also affected the French colonies. By 1 April 1940 in the French army served 179 000 Senegalese shooters - soldiers, sergeants and junior officers of the colonial units formed in the French colonies in West and Central Africa. Senegalese arrows - the name of the generalized. In fact, the French colonial troops served people not only from Senegal, but also from Mali, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Togo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, and Congo. When the French army tried to repel the nazi offensive against France, the troops fighting on the European fronts had troops from the West African colonies before 40 000. After the collaborationists actually surrendered their own country, tens of thousands of Senegalese shooters found themselves in Nazi captivity. The most famous prisoner of war of the Senegalese shooter was a young lieutenant Leopold Sedar Senghor - a native of Senegal, a poet and philosopher, who later became the president of the country and the ideologist of the Negro. Cedar Senghor was able to escape from captivity and join the ranks of the "Maki" partisans. In memory of the Senegalese riflemen who fought on faraway European land, he wrote a poem of the same name.
- captive Senegalese arrows
On the side of the troops of “Fighting France” under the command of Charles de Gaulle from the beginning of their participation in the war, the 19 corps of the colonial troops, three battalions of the French African corps, two camps of the Moroccan Goumerians, three regiments of Moroccan spagias, the Tunisian battalion, five Algerian infantry battalions and two battalions of the Foreign Legion. In 1944, the Senegalese riflemen participated in the landing of the troops of the anti-Hitler coalition in Provence, liberated the territory of France from the Nazi invaders. The anniversary of the landing in Provence is a memorable date in modern Senegal and is celebrated as a national holiday, in memory of the thousands of Senegalese soldiers who died on the fronts of World War II. At a certain point, the Senegalese arrows made up the 70% of the personnel of the “Fighting France” troops controlled by General Charles de Gaulle. Manned by African soldiers units fought on the European front, in particular, the first to enter Lyon, freeing it from the Nazi invaders.
However, the history of the participation of Senegalese shooters in the Second World War on the side of "Fighting France" was overshadowed by the tragic events in the Tiara military camp. The herald of the tragedy was the conflict between the French command and the Senegalese shooters, which flared up back in Europe. The French command, under pressure from the Anglo-American allies, decided to demobilize the Senegalese shooters and deport them to the African colonies. At the same time African soldiers paid three to four times smaller salaries than European soldiers. Many did not receive a salary at all. This angered the Senegalese shooters and, even at Versailles, the Africans tried to express discontent, but were dispersed by the French unit, which opened fire on yesterday’s heroes of the war. Nine Senegalese shooters were badly injured. After arriving in Senegal, the demobilized soldiers were stationed in the Tiara camp near Dakar. There, the Senegalese shooters were waiting for the payment of the promised salary, but a pleasant salary day did not come. 30 November 1944 Senegalese took a French officer hostage, but soon released him, believing the promises of commanders for an early salary payment. However, instead of the salary, the camp of demobilized soldiers was fired from artillery shells. Killed from 24 to 35 Senegalese shooters, 49 people were arrested and sent to prison for a term of 2-3. So the French command paid off the African servicemen who risked their lives on the fronts of faraway Europe. In 1988, Senegalese director Semben Usman made a film about the events at the Tiara military camp.
On the side of the troops of the “Fighting France”, the Moroccan Humerians, units of the colonial troops recruited in Morocco, primarily from representatives of the local Berber tribes, fought. In 1940, the Gumier units took part in hostilities against the Italian troops in Libya. In 1942-1943 Moroccan Gummery fought on the territory of Tunisia. After the landing of the Allied forces in Sicily, the Moroccan Gummies from the fourth camp were assigned to the 1 of the American Infantry Division. Part of the Gumiers took part in the liberation of the island of Corsica, then, in November 1943, the units of the Gumiers were sent to the liberation from the fascist troops of the mainland Italy. In May 1944, the Hummers participated in the passage through the Avrunk Mountains. It was in the mountains that Moroccan soldiers showed themselves from the best side, because they acted in their native element - the Berber tribes live in Morocco in the Atlas Mountains and are well adapted to high-mountain crossings.
At the end of 1944, the Gumier units fought in France, and 20-25 in March 1945 was the first Moroccan units to break into Germany from the “Siegfried Line”. After the end of hostilities in Europe, the Moroccan Goumerians, like the Senegalese riflemen, were hastily withdrawn from the territory of France to Morocco. There are numerous publications on looting and violence perpetrated by the Moroccan units of the French army during the fighting on Italian territory. At least 22 thousands of Moroccan citizens took part in the hostilities of the Second World War, while the loss of Moroccan units with a constant number of 12 thousand people amounted to 8 018 military personnel. 1625 soldiers died on the battlefield, 7,5 thousands of Moroccan soldiers were injured during the fighting.
Belgians took revenge on Hitler in Africa
Little Belgium was almost unable to provide full-fledged resistance to the Nazi invaders in Europe. However, in Africa, under the control of Belgium, there were impressive territories - a colony of the Belgian Congo, as well as Rwanda and Burundi, which were German possessions before the German defeat in the First World War and then placed under the administration of the Belgian administration. On the territory of the African possessions of Belgium stationed units of the colonial troops, called the "Force Pjublik" - "Social Forces". When 28 May 1940 Belgium surrendered, the colonial administration in the Belgian Congo took the side of the anti-Hitler coalition. The Force Pjublik troops became part of the anti-Hitler coalition troops. The divisions of the Belgian colonial troops participated in the defeat of the Italian army in Ethiopia. During the fighting on Ethiopian soil, 500 soldiers of the Belgian colonial troops died, while the Congolese soldiers of Belgium managed to capture the 9 generals and about 150 thousands of officers, sergeants and ordinary Italian army.
In 1942, units of the Force Pjublik were redeployed to Nigeria by order of the British command, where the landing of Hitler’s troops was expected and the British command sought to improve the coastal defenses by attracting Belgian colonial units. In addition, the British were afraid of a possible invasion of Nigeria from the neighboring French colonies, which were under the control of the Vichy government. The strength of the Belgian Expeditionary Force, sent to Nigeria, was 13 thousands of African soldiers and sergeants under the command of European officers. When the French authorities in the African colonies went over to the side of “Fighting France”, the Belgian expeditionary force was transferred from Nigeria to Egypt, where it remained until 1944, acting as a strategic reserve of the British command. By 1945 in the Belgian colonial troops in Africa served more than 40 thousands of people, united in three brigades, auxiliary and police units, medical units, the maritime police. The Force Pjublik medical unit took part in combat operations against the Japanese forces in Burma, where it was part of the 11 East African Infantry Division of the British Army.
South African Victory Contribution
A separate and very interesting page of the “African history” of the Second World War is the participation of the troops of the South African Union (South African Union, now the Republic of South Africa). The Union of South Africa at the time of the outbreak of World War II was the British dominion and was formally ruled by the British Queen. Meanwhile, the majority of the white population of the country were Boers - descendants of the Dutch and German colonists, who still had a memory of the Anglo-Boer wars. A significant part of the Boers adhered to right-wing positions and openly sympathized with Nazi Germany, in which she saw an ethnically and ideologically related state. But the status of the British Dominion did not allow the Union of South Africa to refrain from entering the war after Britain began hostilities against Germany. The Boer nationalists hoped that the South African troops would not have to fight outside the country, especially since before the war, the size of the army of the Union of South Africa was small. By September, 1939 served in the South African armed forces as a whole 3 353 soldier and officer, and 14 631 people were in reserve - Civil Active Forces. The mobilization readiness of the South African army was complicated by the limited number of mobilization reserves.
The racial policy of the state did not allow the recruitment of representatives of African peoples living in the Union of South Africa into military service. Military service could only be carried by white Europeans, but their number in South Africa was limited and not all of them could be mobilized into the active army. Universal military service in the country was never introduced because of protests of the Boer population, who did not want to fight with Germany. The South African command had to find other ways to solve the problem of recruiting army units. In particular, the admission to the military service of "colored" - Indians, Malays and descendants of mixed marriages, which were accepted into motor transport and engineering units, was allowed. An African military corps was formed from the representatives of African nations, which also was engaged in construction and engineering works. At the same time, the main principle of the South African regime was respected throughout the country's participation in World War II — black soldiers were never allowed to participate in hostilities against Europeans. However, the units of the Union of South Africa had to take part in actual hostilities.
The South African army participated in the fighting in North and East Africa. The divisions of the ground forces and the air forces of the Union of South Africa played a key role in the defeat of the Italian troops in Ethiopia in the 1940-1941 years. In 1942, South African troops participated in the fighting in Madagascar against the forces of Vichy France. In North Africa, the 1 South African Infantry Division participated in the Second Battle of El Alamein. The Second South African Infantry Division participated in the fighting in North Africa in 1942, but on 21 and June 1942, two division brigades were surrounded and captured in Tobruk. As for the third infantry division of South Africa, it did not directly participate in the hostilities, but acted as a division of territorial defense and the preparation of a reserve for the warring first and second infantry divisions. In 1942, the 7-I motorized brigade, which was part of the third infantry division, took part in the defeat of the Vichy troops in Madagascar.
South African soldiers fought in Europe. So, in 1944-1945. in Italy, the 6-I armored division of the South African army was fighting. The Air Force of the Union of South Africa participated in all the air battles over East and North Africa, fought in the skies over Italy and the Balkan Peninsula, bombed the Romanian oil fields in Ploiesti. During the Warsaw Uprising, it was the South African Air Force aircraft that dropped food and ammunition to the rebels. There are also examples of combat cooperation of the South African aviation with the Soviet army: during the Lvov-Sandomierz operation, aircraft of the South African Air Force conducted reconnaissance flights over enemy territory and transmitted the received information to the Soviet military command. The total number of participants in the Second World War from among the citizens of the South African Union reaches 334 thousands of people, among them 211 thousands of soldiers of European descent, 77 thousands of Africans and 46 thousands of Indians and Asians. As for the losses of the South African army in World War II, they reach 9 of thousands of people who fell in battles with German and Italian troops in Northern and Eastern Africa and on the European front.
The armed forces of Southern Rhodesia, who had much in common with the South African army, also fought on the side of the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition. The air forces of Southern Rhodesia were formed in 1939 and in the first year of the war they were mainly engaged in the combat training of pilots, both of their own and of the air forces of other states participating in the anti-Hitler coalition. Pilots and techniques of the Air Force of Southern Rhodesia were incorporated into the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. In total, around 2 000 air force pilots were trained in Rhodesia. Rhodesian pilots served in three squadrons. The 237 Fighter Squadron fought in the skies over Egypt, Ethiopia and Europe, the 266 Fighter Squadron fought in aerial battles for Britain and in the skies over European countries. 44-I bomber squadron fought in the sky over European countries. Every fifth soldier of the Air Force of Southern Rhodesia gave his life in the hostilities of the Second World War. In total, 26 participated in the Second World War by thousands of soldiers, sergeants and officers recruited in Southern Rhodesia, both from among the representatives of the European population of the colony and from representatives of African peoples who lived on its territory.
African countries at the Great Victory Parade in Moscow 9 in May 2015 was represented not only by the President of Zimbabwe and the Chairman of the African Union, Robert Mugabe, but also by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and the President of Egypt, Abdul-Fattah Khalil al-Sisi. There are long-standing friendly relations between the Russian Federation and many African countries. At present, the development of economic, cultural, political ties between Russia and the countries of the African continent is once again gaining relevance. And the memory of the great war, of the victory over Hitler's Germany, which the Soviet Union and other countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and even Africans from the colonial forces, were bringing closer to their strength, would further promote the rapprochement of Russia with the African states. Moreover, in the end, it was the results of the Second World War that owe their political independence to almost all the former colonies of European powers on the African continent.