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What is the best practical joke you or your coworkers did in your military career?

I’ve got a couple - one was funny, one was not. When I worked at the hangar at AIR TEST AND EVALUATION SQUADRON V - NWC China Lake, I started in the “Aviation Electrical” (or “AE”) shop. When I checked in, there was a styrofoam cup hanging on the ceiling. It had apparently been there so long that nobody knew who had put it there. The shop was on the first floor, and had twelve-foot high ceilings (possibly built that way because of the desert heat). Not only did we not know who had put it up there, we also couldn’t figure out ,how, they had put it up there. With such high ceilings, you couldn’t just stand on a desk and reach up there. We had aviation ladders (for use on aircraft), but they were too big to fit through the shop’s door, so that wasn’t how it was done. It was a mystery. When I asked the Chief about it, he didn’t know. It didn’t impact the operation of the shop, so he was content to leave it in place and ignore it. That was… until the shop got ding-ed for it during an inspection. The inspecting Officer saw it and said it wasn’t military. The Chief was told in no uncertain terms to have the coffee cup removed. The Chief was willing to oblige the inspecting Officer (he knew he’d catch it if he ignored the Officer), but he had no idea how to remove it. No one could reach it. He told one of the AEs in the shop to remove it. When the AE asked “How?”, the Chief said “Be creative.” Well, he was creative alright. He moved one of the heavy desks under it, put a chair on top of that, and grabbed a mop. He proceeded to climb up on top of the chair and swing the mop handle at the coffee cup, pinata style. When the cup broke, it showered him with “chad”. If you don’t know what “chad” is, let me explain. “Chad” is what you get when you punch a hole in a punched card. It’s a tiny, rectangular piece of thin cardboard. The last time I heard about “Chad” was the Bush election in Florida. “Hanging Chad” apparently caused some mis-counted votes. I knew about it from when I learned FORTRAN-IV (in High School). All of my FORTRAN programs were fed into the computer via punched cards. While debugging my programs, I spent a lot of time trying to make my punched cards right; I used a Model 29 card punch to make them. I’d made a lot of chad before I enlisted in the Navy. So when the coffee cup exploded and showered this AE with chad, it was like an instant snow storm. Fortunately, he didn’t get any of it in his eyes (it can cause serious eye injuries). It seemed like the stuff got into everything. We were still finding chad weeks later. That cup must have been up there for a long time, because there hadn’t been a card punch machine on the base for years. The gag that wasn’t so funny happened after I’d rotated out of the AE shop. We’d set up a centralized coffee mess in part of the Aviation Electronics (“AT”) shop. I was assigned to run the place. The AT Chief was a short, pudgy Filipino. He’d been in the Navy since Noah was a Midshipman. One day he poured himself a cup of fresh coffee from one of my coffee urns. It was still hot when he sipped it, so he set it down, gathered up some paperwork and walked over to the opposite corner of the hangar, to the Maintenance Office. While he was gone, one of his ATs stood guard at the door and a couple of others used some fast-acting glue to glue his coffee mug to the top of his desk. It wasn’t “super glue”, it was a two part epoxy. Then they went back to what they’d been doing… reading Playboy, playing Acey-Duecy… whatever. By the time the Chief came back from his visit to the Maintenance Office, the glue had set. He was looking at some new paperwork when he absent-mindedly reached for his mug — ,AND IT DIDN’T MOVE. The look of astonishment on the Chief’s face was priceless. Unfortunately, so was his coffee mug. It had been made especially for him, and it commemorated his membership in a crew for a newly commissioned ship. He had been (and still was) what they called a “Plank Owner” for that ship. In the Navy, being a “Plank Owner” carries a very high level of prestige with it. There was no way to get another mug to replace it, and when it came off of the desk top, it came off in pieces. The Chief was outraged; they had cost him an irreplaceable mug with an extreme sentimental value. It wasn’t my idea, but I still wish there was some way I could undo what happened. Edit of 8/29/2020:, I recently found this in my archives, while I was seeking something else. I didn’t write it, don’t know who wrote it, and I’m not sure how or when I got it. I’d love to be able to credit the author. Sailor Jim is shutting down his iBook, chuckling under his breath. "I just had an e-mail from an old friend, Joe Welkin. Joe's a civilian now, but was one of the best Chief Boatswain Mates I'd ever met in the Guard. Tough as nails, loyal as a dog, brave as a John Wayne in the third reel, and as funny as Jackie Mason on a good day. His dad, who I had the rare pleasure to meet before his death, was Antonio 'Floppo' Welkin, if not one of the greatest clowns that Ringling ever fielded, then pretty damn close. He was retired from the circus when I met him, but occasionally taught at the famed Clown College. He was a real gentleman and one hell of a funny guy. He visited Chief Welkin onboard only once, but the entire ship talked (and laughed) about that one visit for the rest of the year. "So when the radio message was sent to us, one night underway, that he had died in a car crash, we all felt a little torn up. "Chief Welkin took emergency leave and left the ship at our next port to fly to Florida for the funeral. "A week later, he sent word to us that he'd be meeting us at our next port. The skipper chatted with him for a moment on ship to shore, letting him know it'd be okay if he just went home and waited until we moored up to rejoin. Chief Welkin said he'd rather get back to work as soon as possible ... but that he'd be bringing his dad's ashes with him, if that was okay. "The skipper stared at the radio for a moment and then asked him to repeat that. The gist was that he had his father's ashes and wanted to keep them with him until we got back to our home port, when he would take them home. The skipper made a small face (being as superstitious as any sailor about having dead things aboard), but said it would be no problem. "We moored up in Cleveland the next night and Chief Welkin was waiting for us on the pier. He had a seabag over his shoulder and a small leather bag in hand. He came aboard after liberty was declared and we all greeted him on the mess deck, asking how the funeral was and how he was doing. He told us that 52 oddly dressed mourners had all arrived in a miniature hearse (all professional associates of his father), but - otherwise - it was a pretty normal funeral . . . except . . . "He reached into the small leather bag and pulled out a shiny jack-in-the-box. He set it carefully on the table, right in front of the Executive Officer. "We all stared at the gaudy tin box with dawning horror and a few giggles. Sure enough, he quickly confirmed that we were looking at the container for his father's ashes, as specifically requested in his pop's will. We just sat there for a moment, silent, then the PA system crackled to life, requesting that Chief Welkin report to the Captain's Cabin. "Chief set his seabag aside, asked the XO to keep an eye on his pop and headed up to the skipper's quarters. "We all sat there, around two dozen men in uniform, staring at the jack-in-the-box. I had never seen such a colorful and gaily painted item look so .. ominous and foreboding. It was like a flower arrangement by Stephen King. The XO, with an obviously false bravado, reached over and turned the small handle on the side of the box. " *De dink De dink De dinkle-de Dink* "A choked laugh escaped most throats. The damn thing still played music! The XO laughed out loud and gave the handle another crank. " *De dink De dink De dink Dink* "We all laughed harder, remembering the silly little man who had turned our ship upside down for a day. The XO said something about this being the proper container for the ashes of a professional funnyman and spun the handle once more. " *De dink De dink De dinkle-de Dink DINK!* "The top flipped open, the spring-loaded clown popped out, and ashes flew all over the XO. Laughter ended with gasps and people scrambled back in shocked horror. " *Dink De dink Dink* "The final notes faded and the only noise on the entire mess deck was the labored breathing of the XO, his dress uniform covered with a dead man's ashes and his face quickly turning ash to match. He shook like a leaf and bits of grilled clown kept sliding down his shirt and tie. One of our younger men ran out onto the buoy deck, retching as he went." Sailor Jim sips from his drink and shakes his head. "It was a grotesque tableau, one that remains frozen in my mind. The XO was covered in a fine layer of fried Floppo, the larger chunks occasionally rolling into his lap. I remember clinically noting that he looked like he was right on the edge of going into shock. My shipmates were all reacting like .. like .." Sailor Jim frowns. "Hell, I have no idea what to compare it to .. They reacted like hardened military men who just watched something happen that was reeeeeeeeally outside their capacity to deal with reasonably. Equal parts John Wayne and Linda Blair .. if that makes any sense. "Anyway, booming laughter broke the tension. Chief Welkin stood in the passageway, barely able to stand from the force of his own laughter. We stared at him, numbly. He finally staggered into the room and, from his seabag, pulled out a sealed urn. "He explained, between laughs, that the ashes on the XO were cigar ashes and a bit of dirt, and that his father's real ashes were safely sealed away. He'd just seen the jack-in-the-box in the airport gift shop and couldn't resist pulling what was possibly the finest practical joke ever performed in the Coast Guard. "We all burst into relieved laughter, tinged with more than just a touch of frayed hysteria, and just laughed harder when the XO physically attacked the chief, pummeling him about the head and torso. We all laughed, the chief was laughing too hard to defend himself properly, and even the inarticulate screams of the XO just seemed too funny for words." SJ ("Not the only great practical joke I saw performed, but possibly the finest.")

Where are some good photo/walking spots in SF?

After living in SF for 10 years here are my top places to walk and learn your camera. 1. Fort Funstion - this is where I learned when I got my first SLR before moving to SF. Great cliffs, beach views, ruins, dogs, hang gliders, etc. 2. Marin Headlands - not only will you get great photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, but you'll get some exercise. No shortage of views in any direction. 3. Lands End trail - mid-way through is a path to Mile Beach and there is the Lands End Labyrinth. See my article on it. Great views and a fun diversion of a walk to get there. http://www.jmg-galleries.com/articles/san_francisco_labyrinths.html 4. Sutro Baths - On the far west end of the Lands End trail. Great ruins, great coastal views and magnificent trees. Near by is the Cliff House and Ocean Beach. 5. Crissy Field - A walk from the Marina to Fort Point is a great area to shoot people, beaches, the GGB, the Presidio, the pet cemetary, the harbor, etc. 6. Ferry Building Farmers Market & the Embarcadero - Great place to walk, get coffee, sample food and shoot the event. Amazingly photographic flowers, fruit, vegetables, people, bridge views (bay bridge), embarcadero art work, skyline/architecture, etc. Note the interior roof of the Ferry Building is great to photograph. 7. Fisherman's Wharf / PIer 39 - Sadly the Sea Lions are not there at the moment, but they will return eventually. Many of the tourist attractions are easy subjects. Great abstracts can be had in the reflections of the water in the harbor. The Dolphin Club is near there and you can take a stab at photographing the die hards that swim in the bay... not to mention views of Alcatraz. 8. Day trip to Angel Island - Take the Ferry from Pier 39 or Tiburon and rent a bike. Ride around Angel Island and take in photos of the SF Skyline, Golden Gate Bridge and historic ruins of the island. It was the Ellis Island of the west coast and there are numerous ruins. A hike to the top of the island provides great views. 9. China Town - It's not a large area, so is very walkable. There are tons of great things to photograph from architecture, street photography, stores, etc. Never a dull moment and if you're brave you can find some great food there. 10. North Beach / Broadway - There are some classic neighborhood photos to be had in this area. Great street photography can be had in this area. The neon lights at dusk along Broadway make for some fun subjects to explore. 11. Huntington Park area on California - You can walk around here to photograph the park, the interior of Grace Cathedral, take the elevator to the top of the Mark Hopkins hotel for amazing views and photograph cable cars. 12. Lombard Street view of Coit Tower - Get double views of the curviest street and Coit tower. It's always a great area to walk around. There are also a lot of Cable cars in the area if you walk a few blocks and views of Alcatraz. 13. Golden Gate Park (Flower Conservatory) - My personal favorite area is the Flower Conservatory. Admission is free and you get great views of the manicured flower beds out front, great flowers to photograph inside and at the right time of year the Dahlia garden outside. 14. Golden Gate Park (Music Concourse) - Great opportunities are here to walk and explore the architecture of the DeYoung Museum and the California Academy of Science. Right near by is the arboretum and baseball fields. 15. Golden Gate Park (Boat House/Stowe Lake) - A great walk can be had around the lake, but you can also go to the island in the middle of the lake and hike to the highest point in the park. Always fun. 16. Haight Ashbury - Great street photography opportunities are to be found anywhere in this area. Great history, architecture and people watching. 17. Alamo Square - Not only can you see the city skyline and the iconic Painted Ladies victorian row houses, but there is a hidden jewel to photograph in the park... a shoe garden. I won't blow the surprise, but explore the park and you'll find it. 18. The Castro - Great people watching, street scenes and landmarks. Never a dull moment and you can walk down Market Street if you get bored. 19. Hike the San Bruno Mountains - This is just to the southern edge of San Francisco. There are great nature scenes to be had here and great views of the city. 20. Mount Davidson - Great trails and views. Central to the city and most famous for the very large cross that has been erected there. 21. Twin Peaks - You have to drive there and there isn't too much walking to be had, but you get great views and can hike to the top of each peak. At the right time of year there are flowers blooming and green grass to explore for macro photography. 22. Treasure Island - Technically it is part of San Francisco, although you'll need to take the Bay Bridge to it. Great views of the city are to be had from there and you can explore the ruins of the Navy complex. Not quite as good as the Alameda Naval shipyard, but still fun to explore. 23. SF Zoo - Always a great place to explore and an easy location to take animal photos. It's always a great place to photograph kids having a blast as well. 24. Baker Beach - A great place to see the western side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Great coastal views, but be warned sections of the beach are clothing optional. Most people are discrete, but I wouldn't want you to be surprised. 25. Japantown - Classic architecture and street photography are to be had here. Central to the city and easy to tie in to a fun evening on the town for dinner and a movie. There are a lot of great areas surrounding Japantown to photograph. BONUS ADD ON Did you know there is a camera club in San Francisco? It's the oldest one west of the Mississippi. Look up http://www.photochrome.org Great people and very helpful. They also do group outings. I used to be an active member and former club president, but have since moved on to pursue other interests. I keep in touch with many members and still recommend people join/take part. Wow I just wrote a blog post I've been meaning to write. :)

What are the most dangerous animals on the planet?

The Earth is home to many creatures, some are cute, whereas others are not. Many animals are pretty scary, read on find out which species are the most dangerous in the world. Caution :- Long answer ahead. Giant Pacific Octopus The Giant Pacific Octopus in one of the largest octopuses on the planet. Like all octopus, the Giant Pacific Octopus has 8 arms. In case you did not know, ‘octa’ means eight. Each of the animal’s arms is lined with two rows of suckers. The octopus captures its prey with its suckers which are lined with hooks. The creature’s mouth contains a beak and tongue with teeth on it. Lucky for us, they are not known for eating humans but do feed on tiny sharks. Cone Snail Even though the Cone Snail is wrapped in a beautiful shell, do not touch it if you see one! These adorable but deadly animals can be found in warm shallow waters near the equator. The snail has harpoon-like teeth that can bite anything that touches it. Once bitten, the snails release a venom called conotoxin. The toxin can do serious damage to your nerve cells and can even cause paralysis. Unfortunately, there is no antivenin on the markets yet. Saw-Scaled Viper The Saw-Scaled Viper is one snake that people need to steer clear from. These snakes kill more people than any other snake each year. Even though this viper does not grow to be more than 1-3 feet long, the snake’s venomous bite can kill. The viper’s venom contains hemotoxins and cytotoxins. These toxins can cause the body to develop bleeding disorders which can lead to an intracranial hemorrhage. Sadly, most of the Saw-Scaled Vipers are found in areas without modern medicine so people that are bitten often suffer long and painful deaths. Africanized Honey Bee We can blame human beings for the development of the dangerous Africanized Honey Bee. This bee, also known as the Killer Bee, was created by human and not made by nature. Humans created the bee by cross-breeding the African honey bee and various European Honey bees. The bee was made in the hopes that it would make more revenue by increasing honey production. When the new breed of bee was sent to Brazil in the 1950’s, a swarm accidentally escaped. Mosquito Most people think of mosquitos as very annoying creatures, but they are actually much more dangerous than just irritating. Mosquitos are known to spread diseases that kill hundreds of millions of people every year. According to the World Health Organization, close to 725,000 people each year are killed by mosquito-born diseases. Malaria, one of the more well known and dangerous diseases, has affected hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitos are also known to carry other deadly diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis. Black Mamba These deadly snakes are known to live in the savannas and rocky areas in southern and eastern Africa. Black Mambas are the fastest snakes on Earth and can slither up to 12.5 mph. Fortunately, these lethal creatures only attack when they are provoked. However, when they do attack, they will bite multiple times and release enough venom to kill up to 10 people. A new anti-venom is on the market, but it must be taken within 20 minutes of the bite! Tsetse Fly The Tsetse Fly is a large flies that bites and feeds on other animal’s blood. They are found all over tropical Africa. Even though their bite is not painful, the parasite the fly spreads is particularly dangerous. The parasite the Tsetse fly spreads in known as Trypanosomes which is the direct cause of African Sleeping Sickness. The sickness starts out with fevers, headaches, itchiness, and joint pains. As the weeks pass, the symptoms become more severe and can lead to death. Stonefish One of the most dangerous fishes on Earth is the Stonefish. They can be found in coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific. The Stonefish has the incredible ability to completely camouflage itself as a rock making it easy for swimmers to accidentally step on it. When stepped on, the Stonefish’s spine releases neurotoxins that are particularly harmful. This does not pan out well for swimmers that get inflicted with the venom. Luckily, there is one type of anti-venom that has been developed to save inflicted swimmers. Saltwater Crocodiles Believe it or not, but crocodiles are actually much more dangerous to humans than sharks are. Specifically, stay away from the Saltwater Crocodile. As a predator, they have everything working in their favor. These crocs are incredibly large and can grow up to 23 feet long and they weigh more than a ton! They are also very fast and ambush their prey. Then they drown their victims and can swallow them whole. Contrary to their name, Saltwater crocodiles can swim in both salt and fresh water. Tarantula Hawk The Tarantula Hawk is a wasp to avoid! They have one of the most painful stings of any insect on Earth. Luckily, humans do not need to worry much about this wasp as the insect prefers to focus on hunting tarantula, hence its name. However, if humans provoke the wasp, they will sting humans. Even though the sting is agonizing, it is not deadly! If stung, there is no need to seek medical attention. The pain will last for five minutes and then you can move on with your day. Hippopotamus Even though the hippopotamus is incredibly large and has very short stubby legs, do not be mistaken, because this animal can run over 19 mph to catch its prey. Even though this dangerous creature is mostly a herbivorous mammal, it tends to also be very aggressive and territorial. So, if you do spot a hippo, please stay far far away. There is no need to provoke a 3,300-pound animal that plans to run after you and eat you for breakfast. Portuguese Man O’ War The Portuguese Man O’ War is mainly found in the Atlantic Ocean. The animal lives on the surface of the water and moves according to the tidal waves. Many people recognize the animal as a jellyfish, however in reality the Portuguese Man O’ War is much more dangerous. If you are stung by one of these creatures, the symptoms can include fever as well as shock. In order to counteract the symptoms, pouring salt water over the site of the sting can really help. Cape Buffalo The Cape Buffalo, which also known as the African Buffalo, is found in Southern and Eastern Africa. They are extremely dangerous due to their erratic and unpredictable nature. Many estimate that they attack around 200 people every year. These buffalo live in a herd, and are widely recognized for their horns. The animal is closely related to the Water Buffalo and is six feet long and weigh nearly a ton. The buffalo is also well renowned for being a fantastic hunter. Polar Bear Many people think of polar bears as adorable and cuddly teddy bears, but they are not! They are actually very dangerous and are also the most carnivorous species in the bear family. Plus, they are huge and can weigh up to 1,750 pounds! They are also more likely to attack humans than many other types of bears. Luckily, they live in the Arctic and most humans do not tend to venture into that part of the world. Also, they prefer eating seals over eating humans. King Cobra The King Cobra has a reputation for being dangerous and for good reason. They are the world’s longest and most venomous snakes. Typically, the King Cobra calls India and other parts of Southeast Asia its home. The dangerous snake uses its poisonous venom to attack its prey’s nervous system. As a result, the victim experiences pain, vertigo and eventually paralysis! Sometimes the victims can die as quickly as 30 minutes after a bite. King Cobras can even kill animals as large as elephants! Pufferfish These strange looking and fascinating creatures known as Pufferfish are found in tropical seas all over the world. Interestingly, they are the second most poisonous vertebrate on Earth! They use their extremely toxic poison, called tetrodotoxin, to kill their prey. Their poison is found in the fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, kidneys, and gonads. Shockingly, the pufferfish’s poison is over 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide. Strangely enough, some chefs if Japan are able to cook the pufferfish. Some eat it as a delicacy. Box Jellyfish According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the box jellyfish is one of the most dangerous marine animals in the world. These threatening fish are found in the Indo-Pacific waters north of Australia. The scary part about the box jellyfish is that they are almost invisible! They also have up to 15 tentacles. Each tentacle grows up to 10 feet long and each tentacle is lined with stingers that contain toxins. These dangerous toxins attack the heart, nervous system and skin cells. Most victims drown after being stung. Golden Poison Dart Frog Do not let the size of these little frogs mislead you. This tiny paperclip sized Golden Poison Dart Frogs are incredibly dangerous and can be found on Colombia’s Pacific coast. These cute looking amphibians have enough poison to kill 10 grown men. Watch out for the Golden Poison Dart Frogs because it only takes two micrograms to end the life of one person. Two micrograms are enough liquid to fit onto the head of a pin. One touch can kill you! Hyena Even though many people think Hyenas are not intelligent animals from how they were portrayed on ,The Lion King, ,they are actually incredibly smart mammals. Not only are they bright animals, they can weigh up to 190 pounds and they have a powerful bite that can break bones! Even though they tend to stay away from people, if they perceive the human as hurt or incapacitated, they will take advantage of the situation. Hyenas work together to hunt and kill their prey making them even more dangerous! Bullet Ant These bullet ants are much more than a pesky insect. The bullet ant is known for its powerful and lethal sting. According to the Schmidt sting pain index, the bullet ant sting is even more painful than the tarantula hawk wasp. Not only in the sting insanely painful, it attacks the central nervous system and can cause paralysis! The bullet ant is found in humid lowland rainforests in parts of South America. Just one bite from the bullet ant could incapacitate a full grown man. Nurse Shark The Nurse Shark can be found along the tropical waters of the planet. Interestingly, this shark takes shelter in the day and comes alive at night. The huge animal feeds on small fish and can grow up to 30cm long. The shark can even birth up to 30 babies in a lifetime. The shark is considered dangerous because of their very strong and sharp teeth. They will attack when provoked, meaning many divers have been injured because of them. Leopard Seal The Leopard Seal is the second largest seal in the world, and while the animal looks rather cute it is anything but. The front teeth of the Leopard Seal are extremely sharp and is actually considered the most dangerous animal in the waters, after the Killer Whale. Although the seal is considered extremely dangerous, attacks on humans are pretty rare. The last known deadly attack was in 2003 when a female biologist was attacked while she was snorkeling. We hope that is the last attack for a long time! Sidewinder Many people have a fear of snakes – and perhaps the Sidewinder is one of the reasons why. Also known as the Rattlesnake, they are venomous, although less so than other snakes. This is because their glands are much smaller than that of other snakes. However, if a human is bitten by one it should be taken extremely seriously. Many people ignore the signs after being bitten by one, as the bite apparently feels nothing more than a small pin prick. Boomslang The Boomslang is also another large snake that makes our list. The Boomslang is also venomous and dangerous if humans are bitten. However, the snake is only found in Sub – Saharan Africa. In 1957 Karl Schmidt was bitten and subsequently died after being bitten by a Boomslang. Schmidt’s downfall was underestimating the power of the snake’s poison. Since this incident there have been no other recorded fatalities because of this snake. Interestingly, for any, Harry Potter, fans, Boomslang skin is used in making Polyjuice potion. Lynx The Lynx belongs to the cat family and they are usually found living in solitude. They tend to be found in forested areas across Europe and Asia. The Lynx never attack humans unless they are provoked, however if this does occur the attacks can be pretty serious. More recently, in 2014 a Lynx attacked a woman in Atlanta. She was injured and taken to hospital, however many say that this was her own fault since she wanted to feed the animal. Raccoon Many people across the USA find the Raccoon and annoying pest, however the animal is also considered dangerous. This is because they carry diseases which are extremely harmful to humans. So, while attacks are rare on humans, they are definitely an animal to be avoided. The Raccoon is native to America and is found living in forested areas, however it can adapt to surrounding environments very easily. They can also hunt in pitch blackness due to their extremely sensitive hands. Vultures Two types of Vultures exist, and both are equally as dangerous. They can be found in Africa, Asia as well as Europe. The birds are killer and will shred anything that gets in its way to pieces. They are considered deadly scavengers, however vulture attacks on humans are pretty rare. They will generally avoid humans, as long as humans do not provoke them. At times, the birds can even be seen as shy! We think we will keep away from them, just in case! Water Monitor The Water Monitor is an extremely large lizard that can be found in Asia. They are considered dangerous because they can swim, sprint and even climb. They are extremely powerful and strong. The Water Monitor has poisonous saliva as well as a bite that can kill. Due to hunting this lizard is thought to be going endangered, since their skin is considered valuable. However, there have been many conservation efforts across Asia to save the Water Monitor. Vampire Bat Bats are the only mammals that can fly, however the Vampire Bat is the only bat that feeds off of blood. They can be found across many countries of South America. The Vampire Bat is considered dangerous to humans because they carry disease, but it isn’t all bad! The saliva of the Vampire Bat may actually have some positive uses in medicine. It is thought that it may help increase the blood flow in patients that have suffered from a stroke. Siafu Ant Even though these guys are small, they are powerful and deadly in numbers. Don’t mess with these dangerous creatures. Siafu ants aka driver ants respond aggressively when they feel threatened or attacked. The entire swarm will come together to attack when they perceive danger. An entire swarm of Siafu ants can amount to around 50 million! When these little guys bite, they bite hard and don’t let up. Sometimes, even after their prey dies, the ant’s jaws stay clamped on the carcass. Inland Taipan Another snake to watch out for is the Inland Taipan. These snakes are the most poisonous snakes in the whole world. Their deadly venom and their tendency to hunt warm-blooded mammals is a dangerous combination for humans. Lucky for us, they do not usually attack unless provoked, so steer clear of these lethal creatures. Their venom is neurotoxins which affect the nervous system, hemotoxins which affect the blood, and myotoxins which affect the the muscles. If untreated, the venom can be lethal. Assassin Bug The Assassin bug has the most fitting name. Even though the insect is fairly small, it kills around 12,000 people each year! Interestingly enough, the bite itself is not deadly. However, the disease that the bite spreads is lethal. The bug carries a disease called Chagas which is a parasitic infection. If Chagas is left untreated, the symptoms of the disease are known to cause death. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine for the disease. Humans use sprays and paints to keep the bugs away. African Lion The African Lion stays near the top of the food chain for good reason! The African Lion can weigh between 265 to 420 pounds and are some of the greatest hunters in the world. The territorial cats stay in groups with other lions. These groups are known as prides and they serve to protect each other. Male lions protect the territory and the rest of the pride while the female lions hunt for food. While lions do not typically hunt for people, there have been a few rare cases of African Lions seeking out human prey. Flower Urchin Do not let this pretty pink flowery looking creature fool you. When touched, these flower urchins will respond with an incredibly painful sting. If a human gets stung by this type of sea urchin, he or she should seek medical attention immediately! The flower urchin, known and named for its pinkish and whitish flower-like appearance, is commonly found in the Indo-West Pacific. This urchin functions as a home for coral reef, rocky and sandy environments and seagrass beds at a depth of around 90 meters. Clouded Leopard Although the Clouded Leopard may be considered one of the smaller of the animals on this list, they can still pose a threat to humans. Children and younger teenagers would be particularly threatened by them. The cat is found throughout Southern Asia and China, however today the animal is endangered. Experts report that there are probably less than 10,000 of them left in the world. It is more likely that the Leopard attacks once provoked. Piranha The Piranha is a freshwater fish that lives in South American rivers. Piranha’s are known for their sharp teeth and extremely powerful jaws. The fish is considered dangerous towards humans and in 2011 around 100 people were injured by a Piranha. According to some studies piranha’s tend to attack more in the dry season when food is lacking and the waters are low. Most Piranha’s attack humans at the arms and legs. Splashing can also provoke the Piranha to bite. Humboldt Squid The Humboldt Squid is located in the Pacific Ocean and is the largest of the Squid family. They can weigh up to an astonishing 50kg. It is thought that the Humboldt Squid is particularly aggressive towards humans when they are feeding. Evidence also exists that the Squid become more aggressive towards divers who have flashing lights as well as diving gear. Therefore, it is advised that divers keep away from them. However, the Humboldt Squid has also exhibiting sings of intelligence and are also curious creatures. Tarsier The Tarsier might look cute, but its in fact dangerous. It’s bite is venomous and can cause some humans to go into an anaphylactic shock. This species is found in parts of Asia and is incredibly small. They have strong hearing and are quite cunning – they wait silently for their prey. They show less activity in the daytime and are considered nocturnal creatures. Today, the Trasier is considered an endangered species and is extinct in some parts of the world. Spectacled Caiman The Spectacled Caiman is a crocodile that is found in parts of Southern and Central America. They are highly adaptable meaning it is able to live in both fresh and salt water. The Caiman has extremely sharp teeth, which can be dangerous to humans. This specific type of crocodile mainly eats smaller sized fish. The Caiman is heavily hunted for its skin and its meat, and although it isn’t considered endangered just yet there is a certain risk of this happening. Gorilla The Gorilla is the largest primate – the males can weigh up to 400 lbs, with the females weighing around 200 lbs. They are found in the forests of central Africa. Gorilla’s in general are shy and only attack if they are approached. Therefore, if humans approach the Gorilla with unexpected movements the animal can charge aggressively. However, instances where humans have been killed are rare. Today, experts believe that the Gorilla is one step away from becoming extinct. Puffer Fish The Pufferfish are highly toxic and is considered the most toxic vertebrate in the world. If a Pufferfish attacks a human and is not treated properly, the outcome can be fatal. The toxin can paralyze and stop a person from breathing. Often the Pufferfish can be eaten by mistake, especially in countries such as Thailand and The Philippines. The Pufferfish have four large teeth which are fused together in an upper and lower plate. Some Pufferfish can be up to 100cm in length. Blue-Ringed Octopus The Blue-Ringed Octopus is found in New South Wales, Western and Southern Australia. Although they are pretty small, they are one of the most dangerous marine animals in the world. They will not sting unless they are provoked, however if a human is stung, the venom that is released is powerful enough to kill. Gray Wolf Eurasia and North America is home to one of the most dangerous predators, the Gray Wolf. Even though they tend to be the size of a medium to large dog, their power comes in numbers. They are a very social animal and travel with their nuclear family consisting of the mated pair and their adult children. They have an incredible sense of smell and can smell their prey from far away. They use their keen sense of smell it to track down their prey. Freshwater Snails Many types of Freshwater Snails exist, but they are considered dangerous they can lay eggs within the human stomach which in turn are extremely toxic to humans. Experts believe that these Snails are more dangerous than Lions and Tigers put together! The Freshwater Snails are found in rivers and lakes. They feed off algae and are found all over the world, wherever fresh water exists. Some of the snails have gills meaning they can breathe underwater, whereas others do not and need to come to the surface for air. Rhinoceros Literally meaning “nose horn,” the rhinoceros is responsible for many human deaths and in many parts of the world. Don’t let the fact that it is herbivore fool you. With its thick, protective skin and large horn, the rhino can be a lethal killing machine when it needs to be. But with an abnormally small brain and poor eyesight, rhinos do have their flaws. But take nothing away from them: if they spot you, it’s nearly impossible to escape them. Yellow Anaconda Although the yellow anaconda isn’t as big as its relative, the green anaconda, it still regarded as one of the largest snakes in the world. The yellow anaconda will camouflage itself while stalking its prey. It will use its forked tongue in order to locate its prey, sensing its tastes and smells. Eventually, when the anaconda captures its victim, it will only take a few minutes before it squeezes every inch of life out of it. Tapeworm Despite being tiny and unassuming, the tapeworm is the custodian of an infection by the name of cysticerosis. This can lead to abdominal pains, diarrhea and loss of appetite. Humans are easily subject this infection if they are to eat uncooked meats such as pork, beef or fish, and the nasty parasite kills up to approximately 700 people each year. Also known as Cestoda, the most dangerous thing about tapeworms is that they can utilize a host for years before displaying any type of symptoms. Humans This may seem like a peculiar inclusion in this list. Humans won’t stand a chance in a fight against some of the aforementioned species, but they are certainly dangerous creatures for their own unique reasons. Due to our intelligence and ingenuity, we have the skills to create weapons and tools that have helped us rise up to the top of the food chain. We are the only animal to have full scale world wars. In many ways, we are the most dangerous animals. Komodo Dragon The Komodo Dragon doesn’t think too hard about what it wants for dinner. The reptile has been known to eat anything from birds to buffalos, even having its fair share of human. They are masterful hunters with the skill of stealthily pursuing its prey. When the time is right, they will tear out the victim’s throat and wait for it to bleed out. Despite having a varied diet though, Komodo Dragons only need to eat once a month. Brazilian Wandering Spider This particular spider has literally broken records. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Brazilian Wandering Spider is officially the most venomous spider on the planet. Also known as the Phoneutria Fera, the arachnid got its name for its natural tendency to wander around aimlessly. This makes them particularly dangerous, as they can literally pop up anywhere. They have been found in houses and cars, and have been spotted at practically every time of day. Rattlesnake The sound that a rattlesnake makes is enough to send shivers down any victim’s spine. Cunning and malicious, rattlesnakes are always poised to strike if a vulnerable creature is stranded nearby. In North America, rattlesnakes are notoriously the leading inflictor of snakebite injuries. But ultimately, they will rarely bite a human unless it feels under threat. Unlike the younger rattlesnakes, adults will develop the ability to regulate the amount of venom that they unleash when they bite their prey. African Elephant The African Elephant is officially the largest land animal on the planet, with the average male standing between 10 and 13ft and weighing between 10,000 and 13,000lbs. The colossus can be notoriously fierce, with the ability to run all over rhinos to their doom. African Elephants have been known to show surprisingly aggressive outbursts of rage. They have even been considered to be vindictive towards others, and there have been numerous incidents of Elephants stampeding through villages, destroying everything in its path. Black Eagle The Black Eagle can easily be identified by their long “fingers,” which they use to hunt mammals, birds and eggs. During the hunting process, the predator uses many methods to throw their prey off guard. A recurring technique that the black eagle will use is to fly into the sun. This is so that their prey will be unaware of the black eagle’s presence. Another strength of the black eagle is its eyesight, which is the best in the aviary world. Fossa Native to Madagascar, the fossa is officially the largest carnivore in the southern African country. It is also the most feared predator on the island and a hunter of small creatures like mice to medium-sized animals such as gray mouse lemur and diademed sifaka. It has also been known to feed on wild pigs. Some of the distinctive features of the Fossa include its retractable claws, as well as it’s cat-like teeth that can pierce the skin of most creatures. Tokay Gecko The Tokay Gecko is a colorful lizard with a fierce nature. Its name alludes to the noise it makes, which sounds eerily like its name – “to-kay.” The Tokay has a tendency to be territorial, being known to attack fellow Tokays and any other intruders. A tokay’s standard diet consists of insects and small vertebrates. With a strong bite, tokays can snap through the exoskeletons of insects that live in rainforests. Its strong bite puts off people from owning them as pets. Giant Otter What makes the giant otter particularly dangerous is their absolute fearlessness. The carnivorous mammal is able to hunt alone or in a group, with the ability to coordinate efficiently. With a coat of dense fur, a winged tail and webbed feet, the giant otter particularly well suited to an amphibious lifestyle. Fish, including cichilds, characins and catfish is the main staple of the animal’s diet, and a giant otter may eat six to nine pounds worth of fish every day. Dogs Even though dogs are known to be “man’s best friend,” some dogs are very dangerous! This is usually due to rabies which has been well contained in North America and Western Europe. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, around 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. Luckily, most dog bites do not spread rabies in the U.S. Unfortunately, in India where there is a high rate of stray dogs, almost 20,000 people dies every year from rabies. Deathstalker Scorpions are feared by many humans, and the Deathstalker is probably one of the most dangerous types. Found in the Middle East and North Africa, although its venom would be highly dangerous and extremely painful, it would not kill a healthy human being. However, if a child is stung the venom is much more powerful and could kill. The Deathstalker is yellow in color which may mean that it is more difficult to find while out in the wild. Great White Shark The relationship between Great White Sharks and humans is a complicated one. Humans have been attacked by this animal more than any other in the world. The huge marine fish is found in nearly every ocean on the planet. The Great White Shark can live to over 70 years old, with marine biologists estimating that they are the longest lived fish. However, many are concerned that the Great White Shark is going extinct, for their numbers have been on the decline since the 1970s. Chameleon Primarily insectivores, Chameleons are dangerous due to their incredible ability to change color in order to blend in to their surroundings. Behaviorally speaking, Chameleons are feisty and won’t give easily when engaged in a fight. With a 360-degree vision and one of the fastest, most elastic tongues in the food chain, Chameleons have plenty of tools to pose a threat to many adversaries. and although their eyes are independently mobile, they can focus can them forward in unison, if they need to concentrate on their prey.

What are 20 unique experiences not to miss in Indonesia?

1. Walk and Surf in Kuta Beach , Visit the famous Kuta beach, a strip of beach in the south of Bali where the sea rests on a sand bar and provides gentle rolling waves which are perfect for beginners learning to surf. Surfing lessons by the hour are plentiful or visitors can rent a sponge board and ride the waves that way. For those not looking to get wet, crowds flock to the beach at night to take photos of the exquisite sunset and relax with a beer or a soft drink. 2. Visit Borobudur Temple, Borobudur Buddhist temple, located in Magelang, Central Java, is easily visited by travelers staying in the neighboring city of Yogyakarta. Dating from the 9th Century, Borobudur is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a central dome surrounded by 72 sculpted figures of Buddha, making it the largest Buddhist temple in the world. People come to worship, scale the central platform, and marvel at the scenery that stretches beyond the central temple complex. 3. Sunbathing in Weh Island Aceh, Pulau Weh, or Weh Island, is located at the tip of Sumatra, off the coast of Aceh. The island still experiences volcanic activity and sits in the Andaman Sea, and is home to Sabang, the northernmost town in Indonesia. Visitors travel to the island to go snorkeling in the crystal blue waters which have an abundance of tropical fish as well as rare Megamouth sharks. Visitor can chose to stay at Gapang beach near Sabang or visit Anoi Itam Beach, made famous by its uncommon black sand. 4. Eat Padang Food, Many Indonesians maintain that the best food in Indonesia hails from Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra. Padang food is still served in the traditional way all over Indonesia, and a Padang restaurant is easily spotted by the tower of dishes stacked in the window. Tiny individual plates of the different dishes, sometimes as many as 20 or 25, are placed before customers who mix them with rice at the table. Visitors only pay for the dishes they touch. Traditional Padang favorites include Beef Rendang, a spicy curry paste made with chilies and coconut and cooked with beef, pounded cassava leaves with coconut milk, and jackfruit curry with snake beans. 5. Enjoy the culture of ubud, Ubud is a town in the Gianyar regency and is known as the major arts and culture hub of Bali. Distinct from other areas of Bali, Ubud does not have a beach, but sits instead amongst rice paddies, steep terraces, and lush forests located in the surrounding foothills. Ubud boasts an abundance of art galleries that now house the works of a host of prominent Balinese artists, and visitors can also watch a Tek Tok dance at the Bali Culture Centre in Ubud, a new style of Balinese dancing mixed with traditional elements that was created in 2013. 6. Meander around Lake Toba, Lake Toba in North Sumatra is a natural lake that sprung from the crater of a long dormant volcano. It is the largest lake in Indonesia as well as being the largest volcanic lake in the world. Visitors to Lake Toba can choose to swim or enjoy a variety of water sports on the lake, or visit the traditional houses of the indigenous people, the Batak. They can also visit ornate stone replicas of Batak houses which are the graves of long dead Batak kings and nobles, or spend the afternoon in a traditional Batak village and learn about Batak weaving techniques and other art and craft forms such as blowpipe making. 7. Get away from it all on the Gili Islands, The Gili Islands consist of three islands, Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan, all located off the coast of Lombok. The largest and most populated of these is Gili Trawangan, but even there, there are only basic roads and transport comes in the form of bicycles or horses and carts. There are no cars and no police, which is why many travelers make the trip by ferry or speedboat from Bali to get away from it all and to find a peaceful retreat from the busier towns of Sengiggi in Lombok or Bali. 8. Climb and marvel at the lakes of Kelimutu, Flores., Kelimutu is the name of a volcano in central Flores which has three crater lakes located within it. The lakes are famous for their differing colors of blue, red, and green, thought to be triggered by continued volcanic activity and gases beneath the surface of the water. Many visitors choose to visit the lakes to witness this natural phenomenon or to hike to and sleep near the volcano to watch the sunrise over the crater. 9. Celebrate Independence at Monas in Jakarta., A national monument that stands at 433 feet tall in Central Jakarta, the Monas tower was built as a symbol of the Indonesian struggle for Independence. It is located in Merdeka (Freedom) Square and houses a museum which is open to the public. There is also an observation deck at the top of the tower with views over the city of Jakarta, and the tower is topped with a celebratory bronze flame called the ‘Flame of Independence’. 10. Observe the Komodo Dragons, Komodo Island, one of a group of islands located in Lesser Sunda, is most famous as the home of the fearsome Komodo dragons. The ‘dragons’ are actually the world’s largest lizards and have toxic saliva used to poison and kill their prey. Visitors can now see the lizards as part of a tour of Komodo National Park, established in 1980 to aid in their conservation and to perform ongoing scientific studies and breeding programs of these fascinating beasts. 11. Go to Tana Toraja, Tana Toraja literarily translates as ‘Land of the Toraja’, and refers to the indigenous people of this area of South Sulawesi. Tana Toraja is described as the second most popular tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali, and visitors travel here to see traditional culture, ornate homes, and to glimpse how the local communities have lived and worked for centuries. Also of note are the traditional grave sites of the Toraja people which include carved effigies of the dead, as well as the local community markets that take place every Sunday. 12. Climb Mount Rinjani, Located on the island of Lombok, Mount Rinjani is an active volcano and the second largest volcano in Indonesia. Atop the volcano is a lake that has formed in the crater and which is considered sacred by the local Hindu and Sasak people (the indigenous people of Lombok). Guests can trek up to the summit of Rinjani to check out the sunrise and sunset, however, as the volcano is active and still erupts frequently, the summit is often closed and the ash clouds have been known to disrupt flights in and out of Bali and Lombok. 13. Dive in Raja Ampat, Raja Ampat, meaning ‘Four Kings’ located in Sorong city west papua.This is a cluster of islands off the coast of West Papua in Indonesia. An emerging tourist destination in recent years, this archipelago is known for housing some of the most diverse marine life on earth including thousands of species of fish, turtles, and rare coral. There are four major islands in the archipelago, some of which feature ancient rock paintings, and tourists can ride on traditional wooden boats between the various islands, run by the local fisherman. 14. Climb Mount Bromo, Mount Bromo, located in East Java, is yet another of Indonesia’s active volcanoes and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Java. Named after the Hindi god Brahma, visitors can climb Mount Bromo if the volcano’s activity status allows. Tours take visitors to the crater and early risers can trek to the summit and watch the sunrise over the Tengger massif, a group of mountains that includes Mount Bromo. 15. Explore the Mentawai Islands., Mentawai Islands are actually a collection of over seventy islands off the west coast of Sumatra. Home to the indigenous Mentawai people, who lived in isolation until the 19th century, the islands have now gained a following because of the surfing opportunities on offer, and dedicated surfing holidays are now heavily promoted in the region. According to many hard core surfers, the Mentawai Islands provide some of the best surfing conditions in the world. 16. Go Shopping in Jakarta, The capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is best known for its shopping opportunities. Whatever the budget or style, there are options for all travelers, from the famous flea market in Menteng, to high end malls such as Plaza Indonesia or Grand Indonesia that carry all the latest labels and designers. 17. Candi Prambanan surrounding, A temple complex in Central Java, Candi Prambanan dates from the 9th century and draws comparisons as the Hindu version of the Buddhist temple Candi Borobudur. As with Borobudur, Candi Prambanan temple complex is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temples in South East Asia. Visitors can roam the temple compounds and explore galleries, smaller shrines, and the diverse temples each dedicated to a different Hindu god. 18. Mount Tangkuban Parahu viewing, This mountain is a stratovolcano 30 km north of the city of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, Indonesia. It is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can hike or ride to the edge of the crater to view the hot water springs and boiling mud up close, and buy eggs cooked on the hot surface. Together with Mount Burangrang and Bukit Tunggul, it is a remnant of the ancient Mount Sunda after the plinian eruption caused the Caldera to collapse. 19. Tanah Abang Market shopping, Pasar Tanah Abang is the largest and the oldest textile shopping center in Jakarta. It consists of Blok A that was opened in 2005, and Blok B that was added in 2011. In both blocks you can find anything you might be looking for: kids, adult fashion, jeans, underwear, batik, bags, shoes, special upscale boutiques and a whole lot more at attractive wholesale prices. With over 13,000 kiosks and 75,000 shoppers per day, 20. Explore Malioboro Street , This street become a iconic of Yogyakarta city. Malioboro situated in the downtown which an icon and also the busiest business district in the area. The street is alive 24 hours a day and extends for 1 km from North to South with historical Dutch colonial-era architecture, new modern building architecture mixed in with the Chinese and contemporary commercial districts. Best way to explore the streets are by foot, just within walking distance from Stasiun Tugu (Tugu Railway Station) until southern end a junction, known as Nol Kilometer (Zero Kilometers). Another option is hiring a becak (pedicab) or the ubiquitous four-wheeled horse-drawn carts called “andong”.

What is the most overlooked battle in history?

I can think of an entire campaign that was overlooked in WW2. This was the East African Campaign, the events here were overshadowed by what was going on in North Africa. One thing the East African Campaign did was to squash the myth of the Italian soldier being a coward. (Italian artillery in Abyssinia during Italy’s 1935 invasion. Italy’s East African Empire would be the setting for the East African Campaign.) On 23rd June 1940, just three days after the Italian dictator declared war on Britain and France, a small middle-aged African man going by the name of Mr Strong stepped on board a Royal Air Force Short Sunderland Flying boat at Poole’s waterfront in southern England. The aircraft took off on a day journey that was fraught with danger as the route took the Sunderland over German occupied France. The plane made a stop at Alexandria in Egypt then it continued on its way to the capital of the Sudan, Khartoum. At this time, the Sudan was a country that was ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt having been so ruled since 1898 after the crushing of the Devishes army at Omdurmann. When the aircraft settled down on the Nile, there was only a handful of people in the Nile Pot of 42,000 who knew of the real identity of Mr Strong and these were now on the dockside, ready to welcome him. The man alighting from the aircraft was none other than the former Emperor of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Haile Selassie (23rd July 1892 – 27th August 1975), known as the ‘Lion of Judah.’ Selassie had fled his native land to exile in London in 1936 when Italy invaded and on the 9th May, Benito Mussolini proclaimed the Italian East African Empire. (Africa Orentale Italiana or AOI) The British were hoping to use him to stir up a revolt against the Italian colonial administration in Abyssinia while the British and Commonwealth force led a multi-pronged force from the surrounding British colonies. If a revolt could be imitated amongst the 10 million inhabitants would make the British task so much easier. Italian East Africa was made up of Abyssinia and the Italian colonies of Eretria and Italian Somaliland in 1895 to 1896. First Italo-Abyssinian War the Italians had been soundly defeated at the Battle of Adowa by the forces of Emperor. (Smiling South African troops with a captured Italian flag in Italian East Africa in 1941) Menelik II (17th August 1844 -12 December 1913). Mussolini used the Adowa disaster as his flimsy excuse for invading Abyssinia, long had he dreamed of an Italian empire to rival that of ancient Rome and of avenging the dead of Adowa. The Italians had pitted modern artillery, tanks, aircraft and poison gas against an army with antiquated firearms and spears, against the modern weapons of the Italian war-machine there was little the Abyssinians could do. Things were made even easier for the Italians by the inactivity of the League of Nations who did little more than to protest. When the Kingdom of Egypt declared neutrality during the Second World War the Anglo-Egyptian treaty drawn up in 1936 allowed the British to station troops in Egypt to safe guard the Suez Canal. At this time the Kingdom of Egypt included the Sudan, however the Sudan at this time was jointly governed by both Egypt and Britain in a condominium known as the Anglo-Egyptian-Sudan. On the 10th June 1940 Mussolini brought Italy into World War Two be declaring war on the British and French and Italian forces in Africa be came a threat to the British supply lines along the Red sea and along the Suez Canal. (The Italian Breda light machine-gun was one of the worst LMGs ever issued to troops. It frequently jammed and had no carrying handle.) The position of the Italians in their East African colonies was precarious surrounded to the north (Sudan) west (Southern Sudan and Kenya) and east (British Somaliland by the British Royal Navy the issues of supplying the Italians garrisons would be almost impossible. On paper, the British forces in the area seemed formidable but the figure was misleading. “Minerals that could have justified the lavish expenditure on sea bases, public works, roads and bridges had not been found in quantities that would cover he cost of the necessary machinery. The expected discovery of oil had not been made, trade was negligible: public security was non-existent and in consequence revenue from the agriculture could not be collected; nor did this condition tend to attract foreign capital, in spite of strenuous effects by the Italian government,.” (Robert E Cheesman) On paper, the Italians had 370,000 men in East Africa and almost 400 aircraft. Against them all the British could muster was a mere 19,000 troops. The British forces like those of the Italians was made up mostly of colonials but they were well trained and often well led whereas up to 70% of the Italian colonial troops (called Askaris) were poorly trained and often took their families with them on campaign. The Somali colonial and Eritrean troops of the ‘Royal Corps of Colonial Troops,’ were among the best of the Askaris. “They were fierce hand-to-hand fighters with bayonets, swords and daggers but they did not know what to do when they came under heavy shelling and staffing.” (Anonymous Italian officer.) A major concern for the Italians was the state of their equipment, most of the Askaris and many of the Italians were issued with obsolete rifles that the Allies had given to Italy as reparations after World War One. The most important fighter available to the Italians in the theatre was a biplane, the fiat CR 42 Falcon which was armed with one 12.7 mm and one 7.7 mm machine-gun (A later variant, the Bis replaced the 7.7 mm with a 12.7 mm machine-gun) and had a top speed of only 272 mph (438 kph) “When the English engage us our fighters cannot follow them, as their bombers are faster than our fighters.” (Anonymous Italian pilot.) (The Fiat CR 42 Falcon was the mainstay of the Italian fighter force in Italian East Africa. Though very maneuverable it was slow and armed only with two machine-guns. These two aircraft are from the 162nd Fighter Squadron of the 161st ‘Autonomous Terrestrial Fighter Group’ stationed in the Aegean Island in 1940.) The standard Italian light machine-gun was the Breda surely one of the worst machine-guns every to be issued to an army as it was prone to jamming and had a badly designed cooling system that resulted in rounds cooking off inside the gun which sometimes had fatal results for the operator, in addition there was no carrying handle. Much of the artillery was World War One vintage and the Brixia Model 35 mortar was little more than a grenade launcher which bombs had a very low yield though in experienced hands it proved to be an effective weapon, armour was negligible , the heaviest tanks available being 24 Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39s which were slow and so thinly armoured that they were vulnerable to British 2-pounder guns at almost any range, they were mechanically unreliable and its armour was riveted, which meant that when hit the rivets could come loose and ricochet inside the tanks like bullets. (The Italian Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39 was obsolete in 1940 but it was all the Italians had in East Africa in armour. 24 machines were available, however due to the rivets they were death traps for the crews, as when hit the rivets tended to come loose and ricochet inside the tank like bullets. They were also thinly armoured and vulnerable to even the British 2 pounder Anti-Tank gun.) Even Mussolini who liked to think that the Italian army was as good as any other army in the world; that it was made up of courageous young men as the same mould as those that had served the caesars and emperors of old few illustrations regarding its capabilities. He was in Fact relaying on a swift German victory in Europe to save his African territories. “,It will be sufficient if the empire holds out for three months,” ,he had told the Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta (21st October 1898 – 3rd March 1942) who was governor-general of Italian East Africa. As the Germans swept on from victory to victory, Mussolini saw his chance; he believed that when Hitler divided up the British Empire he would be able to add Kenya and Tanganyika (Tanzania) to his East African possessions “,It was the chance of 5,000 years,” ,said the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano. (18th March 1903 – 11th January 1944) Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law was against the war from the start, he knew that Italy’s armed forces were in no state for a war with a major power like Britain or France. On learning of Mussolini’s declaration of war he said, “,I’m sad, very sad. The adventure begins. May god help Italy.” ,He constantly disagreed with Mussolini resulting in his arrest and imprisonment. Being the son-in-law to the Italian dictator did not save him from a Fascist firing squad however as he was shot on the 11th January 1944, his last words being “,Long live Italy.”, The 13th of June witnessed the opening moves of the campaign, when three Italian Caproni bombers bombed a Rhodesian air base at a fort at Wajir in Kenya , damaging two aircraft, setting fire to a fuel dumb and killing four soldiers from the King’s African Rifles (KAR) whom had been stationed in the fort. This would be the start of a number of air raids against Wajir that would occur regularly as the few elderly Hawker Hardy’s (Tropicalized version of the Hawker Hart bomber) flown by the Rhodesians were totally outdated and outclassed by the Italian aircraft. Retaliation came on the 17th June when Rhodesian aircraft supported a raid mounted by the KAR on the Italian outpost of El Wak in Italian Somaliland. The Italians were quick to move, taking full advantage of his huge superiority in numbers, Lieutenant-General Guglielmo Nasi (3rd June 1910 – 24th August 2003) Just across the border from Metamma some 200 miles (320 kilometres) from Kassala also taken were the villages of Qaysan, Kurmuk and Dumbode on the Blue Nile. Because of lack the Nasi decided to advance no further into the Sudan, instead they were content to fortify Kassala. The Italians also advanced into Kenya and after some heavy fighting occupied Fort Harington at Moyale, by the end of July they had occupied Dabel and Buna; these small villages were located nearly one-hundred miles from the Kenyan-Ethiopian border and were to be the high-water mark of the Italian penetration into Kenya. During the following six weeks, Nasi also invaded British Somaliand with approximately 25,000. The invasion got underway on the 3rd August with five colonial Brigade, three Blackshirt battalions and three bands (Banda) of native troops and a collection of both light and medium tanks, backed for a moment by superior air support. Defending British Somalliland was 4,000 men under the command of Brigadier Arthur Reginald Chater (1896 – 1979) consisting of the Somaliland Camel Corps who were so under-equipped that Chater was appalled, he had tried to partially mechanise the unit but this was only partially completed before the funds dried up. Chater also had+ the 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalion of the King’s African Rifles, the 1st east African Light Battery equipped with four 3.7 howitzers. These merger forces were joined on the 7th August by the 1st Battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment arriving from Aden and on the 8th August by the 2nd Battalion Black Watch. The British were not only short of artillery, they had no tanks or armoured cars and lacked anti-tanks guns. (One field in which Italy did excell was in pistol design. Italian pistols were highly regarded, this 1935 Beretta remained in service until 1991.) The Italian invasion was in three columns with the western most advancing towards Zeila, whilst the central column, the main force under Lieutenant-General Carlo de Simone (1885 -1951) headed towards Hargesia and the eastern column towards Odweina. The Camel Corps skirmished with the Italians, bravely trying to delay them as the British pulled back to Tug Argan where they intended to form a defensive position in the Assa Hills overlooking the road to Berbera on the coast. Within two days of the start of the invasion, the Italians captured Zeila and Hargesia; this effectively sealed off British Somaliland from neighbouring French Somaliland. The Central column was temporally hold up at Hargesia by the Camel Corps and by a company of the Northern Rhodesian Regiment but the Italians throw in some light tanks and the defenders were compelled to fall back. The next day Nasi’s forces took Odweina whilst his central and eastern columns combined to launch attacks against the British and Commonwealth positions located on Tug Argan. In the first week of August, the British received welcome reinforcements with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment and the 2nd Battalion Black Watch. On the 11th August Major-General Reade Godwin-Austin (1889 – 1963) arrived and took over command from Arthur Reginald Chater. (During the fighting around Hargesia, the Italians broke the resistance of the Somaliland Camel Corps and a company of the northern Rhodesian Regiment by throwing in light tanks like this L 3 Tankette. Lacking any anti-tank guns the Commonwealth troops were forced to give up their positions. This particular L 3 can be seen in the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg. ) By the 10th of August, de Simone was preparing for an attack on the British and Commonwealth positions at Tug Argan; these were centered on six hills that overlooked the only road to the capital of the colony, Berbera. The Battle of Tug Argan got underway on the 11th August, when an Italian brigade launched an attack on a hill defended by men of the 3rd Battalion, 15th Punjab regiment and after a bitter battle in which the Italians suffered heavy casualties, took it. In response, the British counter-attacked twice but each attack met with failure, though they managed to beat off two Italian assaults on two other hills. The next day De Simone assaulted all the British positions, taking full advantage of his superior numbers. By the onset of darkness, after severe fighting, in which the Italians fought with extreme courage, the North Rhodesian Regiment was thrown off Mill Hill but far more serious than the loss of the Mill hill was the loss of two of only four 3.7 mm Howitzers at the disposal of the defenders and that the Italians had established themselves on the Assa Hills that dominated the gap over which the Berbera road ran. On the 1th and 14th August, the Italians had been unable to take any more positions in spite of very heavy fighting and mounting casualties but the attackers continued to improve their positions by infiltrate. By the 1h August, the situation for the defenders had become critical, De Simone’s troops were on the verge of cutting the road and the British only supply route. On the 15 th August, seeing no other way for his men than retreat or annihilation Godwin-Austin ordered a retirement to Berbera. (The British 3.7 QF {Quick-firing} Howitzer. During the 1940 Italian invasion of British Somaliland, four of these guns made up the entire British artillery train. This example can be seen in the artillery, Firepower Museum in London. It was a sound artillery piece however; by 1940, it was showing its age, having entered service with the British army in 1917. ) It was during the fighting at Tug Argan that captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson (nd October 1912 -23rd December 2008) won his Victoria Cross. “The king has been pleased to approve the reward of the Victoria Cross to: “Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, East Surrey Regiment (Attached to the Somaliland Camel Corps.) “For most conspicuous gallantry on service in Somaliland. Captain Wilson was in command of machine-gun posts manned by Somali soldiers in the key position of Observation Hill, a defended post in the defensive organisation of the Tug Argan Gap in British Somaliland. The gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his range. He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within several hundred yards, and scored two direct his through the loopholes of his defences, which bursting within post, wounding Captain Wilson severally in the right shoulder and left eye, several of his team being also wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired them and replaced them. On August 12 and 14th, the enemy again concentrated field artillery fire on Captain Wilson’s guns, but he continued, with his wounds untended, to man them. On August the 15th, two of his machine-gun posts were blown to pieces, yet Captain Wilson, now suffering from malaria in addition to wounds, still kept his own post in action. The enemy finally overran his post at 5. Pm on the 15th August when Captain Wilson, fighting to the last was killed.” (The formal citation for the award of the Victoria Cross to Captain Wilson) (Captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson. It was whilst in command of a machine-gun section of Vickers machine-guns (Below,) that he won the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 12th to the 15th August, 1940 in British Somaliland) The citation erred on reporting of Captain Wilson’s death, it would later be discovered that he was a prisoner of war. He was released from captivity in 1941 when he returned to England to receive his Victory Cross at Buckingham Palace in July 1942. On the 17th August, reports came that the Italians had reached Bulhar, just 40 miles (64 km) west of Berbera. Just of the coast, the elderly light cruiser HMS ,Ceres (,4,190 tons) fired on the invaders and managed to bring them to a halt. The Italians advancing from Tug Argan approached the British and commonwealth read-guard positions established at Barkasan fought back with great courage, even at one stage counter-attacking with a bayonet charge carried out by the black watch; after dark the rear-guard after having resisted continuous increasing pressure from the Italians received orders instructing them to withdraw to Berbera. The entire British and Commonwealth force now retired to the port, making it to Berbera with minimal casualties were they were embarked onto the ships, the loading being completed on the 18th August. However, HMS ,Hobart, (7,105 tons) with the force headquarters abroad remained in the colony’s capital collecting stragglers and destroying vehicles and stores until the morning of the 19th August, before setting sail for Aden. Three of the crew were reported missing and feared dead, they would later turn up in ab Italian prisoner of war camp becoming the first Australians to become POWs in World War Two but 17,000 people, military and civilians personnel had been successfully evacuated. The men of the Somaliland Camel Corps and other Somali units were given the choice of being evacuated or being left behind, most chose to stay, they were allowed to retain their arms. The British received little Italian interference during the evacuation. It is quite possible that the Duke of Aosta and Nasi let them go in the hope of a possible peace agreement to be mediated by the Vatican. On the 19th August 1940, rthe Italians occupied Berbera and advanced down the coat to complete their conquest of the territory, Mussolini annexed British Somaliland as part of the empire of Italian East Africa. The invasion had seen some fierce fighting; most notable at Tug Argan and Barkasan with the British saying they sustained 250 casualties and inflicted 205 on the Italians. However, official British historical sources on the history of the Second World War state that the British casualties were in fact 260 and the Italians and Askaris were 2,052. (The Italian Caproni CA 133, was old and slow and clearly obsolete by 1940. However, the Italians still had a number of these transport/ light bomber aircraft in East Africa and they carried out the first Italian air raids of the war in that theatre, meeting with a degree of success, chief because the British and commonwealth aircraft in the area were just as old and obsolete as the Caproni.) At sea, the Italians appalling losses, losing four of their eight submarines of the Red Sea Flotilla that had been operating out of Massawa. These were the, ,Macalle, ,which ran aground on the 15th June, the ,Galileo Galilei (,880) which was captured by the K Glass destroyer HMS ,Kandahar (,1,690 tons) on the 16th June after a gun battle with an armed trawler named the ,Moonstone, ,a fight in which the Italian captain was killed. The prize was subsequently renamed the X-2. On the 23rd of June, the Brin glass submarine ,Evangelista Torricelli ,was sunk by the British destroyers HMS ,Kandahar ,and HMS ,Kingston, (1,690 tons) and the sloop HMS ,Shoreham ,off French Somaliland, as a mark of respect for his gallantry the Italian captain of the ,Evangelista Torricelli ,was the guest of honour at a dinner party at the British base. On the 24th June the, Luigi Galvani,, after sinking the Indian sloop ,Pathan ,was in turn sank by the Sloop HMS ,Falmouth ,(1,105 tons) in the Gulf of Oman. Several hours later, the British destroyer HMS ,Khartoum ,(1,690 tons) sank after catching fire and suffering an external explosion. (The Italian Carcano 1891 rifle. It was basically a good rifle and it served Italy well. One of these was used to kill US President J. F Kennedy) Between 20th and 21st October, the British convoy BN 7 of 31 ships sailing to Port Sudan and Suez was attacked by three Italian destroyers. The attack on the convoy was driven with the loss to the Italians of the ,Francesco Nullo, ,which was driven aground by New Zealand cruiser HMZNS ,Leander ,(7,270 tons) and the British destroyer HMS ,Kimberley ,(1,690 tons) and destroyed the next day by RAF Bristol Blenheim bombers. The build-up for the counter-offensive against Italian East Africa began on the 5th September 1940 when the 5th Indian Infantry Division started to arrive in the Sudan. Its 29th Indian Brigade was positioned on the Red Sea coast to protect Port Sudan, the 9th Indian infantry Brigade were placed southwest of Kassala and the 10th Infantry Brigade was sent to Gederaf where it accompanied the division headquarters. On 6th November the British launched a surprise attack under Brigadier-General Sir William ‘Bill,’ Slim (6th August 1891 – 15th December 1970) with some 7,000 troops on the Sudanese town of Gallabat, one of the towns the Italians had captured in July. Slim planned to take Gallabat with a combined infantry and tank assault across a dry riverbed into Abyssinia and the border town of Metamma. Though Slim’s men captured the town of Gallabat the attack met with failure on the first day when the Italians air force shot down seven of Slim’s merger supply of Gloster Gladiator bi-plane fighters for five of their CR 42s. Lieutenant-General Luigi Frusci, (16th January 1879 – 1979) acting governor of Eritrea and commander of all the Italian forces in and around Gallabat was not about to give up the Italian positions in the Sudan, his men occupied strong positions behind belts of barbed wire so thick that they could only be broken by tanks. For the next forty-eight hours the ‘Regia Aeronautica Italia,’ struck at the British and Commonwealth troops. Deprived of their air cover the Allied Infantry were easy targets for strafing and bombing attacks and 42 of them were killed and a further 125 wounded. Slim could see that he had no other choice but to withdraw. The first large scale attack on Italian East Africa had been beaten back. (The British Gloster Gladiator was the only fighter available to Brigadier-General William Slim during the early days of the Italian East African campaign. Unfortunately for the British and Commonwealth forces it was marginally out-glassed by its Italian bi-plane counter-part, the Fiat CR 42 Falcon as was evident on the 6th November 1840 when seven Gladiators were lost to Italian fighters whilst the Italians lost five of their own. ) (A South African Gloster Gladiator falls preys to the guns of an Italian CR 42 Falcon east of Metamma piloted by Captain Antonio Raffi of the 412th a Squadriglia. Painting by Ivan Berryman. Captain Raffi’s CR 42s shot down five Gladiators from K flight 1st South African Squadron clearly demonstrating the marginally superior quality of the CR 42 over the British bi-plane.) The British did not lose heart however and soon selected a new target, this was Kassala. If it could be taken then a route would have been opened up from the north into the heart of Eritrea, including the capital of Asmara, and Massawa, the only colony’s largest Red Sea Port. However, the Duke of Aosta ordered both Gallabat and Kassala abandoned in early January 1941 before the British were ready to launch their new offensive. The Italian Duke had not been deceived by the victory at Gallabat he knew that the next time the British with their modern armour would make short work of his poorly equipped forces on the plains of the Sudan western Eritrea. He therefore ordered Frusci to withdraw his 50,000 men to the more rugged terrain of Agordat and Barentu respectfully 150 and 100 miles (241 and 160 kilometres) east of Kassala. In the air, the balance of power had shifted to the British with the delivery of more Gloster Gladiators and Hawker Hurricane fighters. The Hurricanes were vastly superior to the CR 42s and the Gladiators were nearly their equal though the Italian fighters did have an edge in speed over the British bi-plane. These RAF fighters could play havoc with the Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 81s and SM 79s bombers. Since their arrival the British and strafed and bombed a large Italian motor convoy in the vicinity of Kassala. (The standard British and Dominion troops rifle during the Campaign. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE). The SMLE was a fine rifle and was probably the best battlefield bolt-action rifle ever produced.) Frusci could not maintain even his new positions for long in the face of increasing British and Commonwealth numbers and supplies. On the 27th January two Indian divisions the 4th under Major-General Noel Beresford-Peirse (22nd December 1887 -14th January 1953) and the 5th under Major-General Lewis Heath (1885 – 1954) under the command of Major-General William Platte (1885 – 1975) had reached Agordat which was defended by the four infantry brigades of the brigades of Italian 4th Division supported by 76 guns that were positioned on two hills moving from east to west, in addition the Italians had a company each of medium and light tanks in support. At the same time that the Allies were, approaching Agordat two Indian brigades had been sent south towards Barentu. The British had at first tried to work their way round to the flanks of the Italian positions from the north but they found their way blocked by an impassable river and by a determined counter-attacking Italian force of five colonial brigades supported by mountain guns so they decided instead to try and take the eastern hill in a direct assault. Three days of hard fighting ensured, with great courage being displayed by both sides. At one point, an officer led a cavalry charge straight into the teeth of the British guns. “Lieutenant Renato Togni charged down the hill on a white horse. His men galloped to within 100 feet of the guns, firing from their horses and throwing hand grenades while our artillery, turning 180 guns on the British, fired at ground level.” (Anonymous correspondent for a Milan Newspaper.) The failure of the gallant charge broke the spirit of the defenders and on the 31st January, the eastern hill fell, the Italians had had several tanks knocked out by the British armour during the assault. The Axis tanks had been positioned between two hills awaiting their change to counter-attack. By the even, the road to Karen had been cut and the defenders isolated. The Italians tried to slip away during the hours of darkness but 1,000 prisoners were taken and 43 artillery pieces captured, the survivors abandoned their vehicles and fled towards the Karan Plateau. Meanwhile the 5th Indian Division had captured Barentu without the aid of tanks, despite the place being defended by 8,000 men in well-prepared positions and backed by 32 guns. Within nine days, the Indians had advanced 100 miles (160 kilometres) and taken 6,000 prisoners and captured 80 guns, 26 tanks and 400 lorries. (These captured Italian Fiat-Ansaldo M 11/39 Medium tanks were just some of the war booty seized by the British at Agordat. The tank was glassed as obsolete in 1940 and was easy meat to the British anti-tank gunners due to its thin armour.) During a strafing attack by Italians fighters on 21st January Brigadier William Slim was wounded during the advance of the 5th Indian division and his command of the 10th Indian Infantry Brigade was assumed temporally by Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard Fletcher (1898 – 1968) commander of the 2nd Highland Light infantry Battalion until he was relieved by Brigadier Thomas ‘Pete,’ Rees (12th January 1989 -15 October 1959) in March. As the fighting was raging in the North in the south in Kenya, British numbers were increasing rapidly. By the end of 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Cunningham had managed to raise an army of 75,000 men (1st May 1885 -30th January 1983) recruiting from Britain, South Africa, Rhodesia, the Gold Coast (Ghana) and Nigeria. One of the British abd Commonwealth forces first priorities was to capture the fortified town of El Wak near the border of Kenya and Italian Somaliland. There was really no reason to attack the town as it could easily be passed-past but Cunningham fought it would be a good way for his troops to get some experience. On 6th December 1940, South African and Gold Coast troops approached the outskirts of the town, when suddenly the Italians opened fire. “Shells came down the road, hitting and bouncing with a nasty thump and going by. Making such a noise that you thought you could stretch out your hands and touch them. Everyone looked absolutely flabbergasted that the Italians had fired first. It had all been so peaceful, and anyway, it was we who were raiding the Italians; it seemed degfinately unfair.” (Anonymous South African soldier) In spite of the Italian fire, the South Africans pressed on with their attack, advancing through thick bush. Then the attackers came up against barbed wire, they blasted holes in it with Bangalore torpedoes. “Suddenly we found ourselves right on top of the Italian wire – where we had no business to be. Tanks came through the gap behind us and went straight into action. The Italians morale was so shaken by the unexpected appearance of the tanks and our troops advancing steadily through their fire they seemed to collapse completely.” (An anonymous South African soldier) (A trio of South African Gladiators. South Africa was a major player in the East African Campaign. Painting by Don Bell) El Wak had been an easy victory but much tougher fighting was to follow. Furious on learning how Italian soldiers had broken and run Mussolini fired the General in charge, Gustavo Presenti and had him replaced by Major-General Carlos De Simone. In early 1941, Cunningham set out with the majority of his command for the Somali port of Kismayu on the Indian Ocean. He met little resistance and reached the city on the evening of 14th February 1941, only to discover that the Italians had evacuated the place. The Italians had left the port in a shambles through; many of the men had been more concerned with saving their personnel possessions rather than retreating in any orderly fashion. Three days earlier the Duke of Aosta, fearing the Kismayu position could not be hold had ordered it abandoned and for its garrison to retire to well-prepared positions on the Juba River. The Italian had managed to move some of their artillery but they had left behind large stores of other weapons and supplies. In one incident, a machine-gunner was ordered to dump his guns out of the back of the lorry to make room for an officer’s luggage. “Here we are 500 men without a machine-gun. The soldiers are asking. “How are we going to stop tanks?” (Italian unit commander.) The Italians regrouped at Jumbo were they planned to make a start on the Juba River. De Simone was relaying on the river to stop the enemy, he knew that he did not have either the men or the arms to stop the British all along the river’s 800 mile length; flowing from Abyssinia across Italian Somaliland to the Indian Ocean. However, the river at Jumbo was only 200 yards wide and was crossable only by a single pontoon bridge which was rapidly blown up by the Italian engineers. The approaches to the river were covered in thick thorn that the British and Commonwealth troops would have to negotiate their way through before they could even attempt a crossing of the river. However, if the British could punch a hole through De Simone’s lines at Jumbo then there would only be a few Italian positions left between them and the city of Mogadishu, the capital of Italian Somaliland. On the night of thefdbruary, a unit of South Africans tried to cross the river but they were detected, whereupon they were shelled by the defenders artillery whom fired as much as 3,000 shells at the attackers in less than three hours. The South Africans started to look for another place to cross, they were in luck, they located a ford 10 miles (16 kilometres) upstream at Yonte where there was an old ferry crossing where the water was only waist deep. On the 18 February, the South Africans made the crossing at dusk, beating off an Italian counter-attack the following morning. The South Africans followed up the repulse of the Italian attack by approaching Jumbo from the rear of the town on the 19th February, three days later another South African detachment captured the town of Jelib, 50 miles (80 Kilometres) to the north. Several weeks before the South African crossing of the Juba, Haile Selassie entered Abyssinia near the village of Um Iddla on the 18th January and on the 20th, when he alighted from a creaky old British Valentia troop transport. Aircraft dressed in Khaki and wearing a large pitch helmet. He marched resolutely towards a flagpole that had been erected in a riverbed. ,“I am now entering Ethiopia to crush our common enemy,,” the emperor announced to the crowd that included two of his sons and then raised the red, green and gold flag of Ethiopia on the flagpole. (A tank of the South Africa, Light Tank Company towing a captured Italian field gun near El Wak.) The ceremony over the hills Selassie joined up with the Gideon Force of British led African guerrillas under the command of the eccentric Orde Wingate (26th February 1903 – 24th March 1944) that was already operating in the country. The standard of the Lion of Judah was once more raised in Selassie’s native land. The exiled emperor made his crossing some 450 miles (720 kilometres) northwest of Abyssinia’s capital of Addis Abada while Selassie had been forced to flee when the city had been captured by Pieto Badoglio on the 5th May `1936 (28th September 1871 – 1st November 1956) Over the next three months, the Gideon force conducted a guerrilla campaign in the province Gojjam. Selassie and Gideon moved around the province rallying the populace whenever they could with loudspeakers, which had been supplied to the guerrillas in an attempt to persuade the local tribesmen and Italian Askaris to desert the Italian cause. Though the force was small, by using surprise and bluff they became a major thorn in the side of the Italians with their small raids and ambushes and by disrupting the Italian supplies and providing intelligence to the more conventional British and Commonwealth forces Wingate had strongly argued to be allowed to raise such guerrilla units to operate behind enemy lines believing that… “To raise a revolt you must send a Corps d’Elite to do exploits and not just as peddlers of war material and cash. A thousand resolute and well-armed men can paralyse 10,000.” (,Orde Wingate) In March a bitter argument accrued between Wingate and Colonel Daniel Sandford (18th June 1882 – 22nd January 1972) over the distribution of supplies to Wingate’s forces and other Abyssinian partisan bands, Sandford ascertained that Wingate was taking the lion’s share of rifles, packsaddles and ammunition. With an equal amongst all the groups not only operating in Gojjam but throughout Abyssinia, Sandford believed that the impact would be better felt by the occupiers. The dispute went on until it led to the mutiny of the 2nd Ethiopian Battalion at the beginning of April. Wingate, whom had been laid up sick with a bout of Malaria, had to leave his bed to deal with the situation by dismissing the battalion’s commander after which the 2nd rallied to their new officer and performed well for the rest of the campaign. Ethiopia’s ‘Patriot,’ took Bure on the 6th March 1941 winning the first significant victory. (Ethiopian Patriots transport supplies by camel, 22nd January 1941. ) From the 27 February, the Italian garrison at Bure in well-sighted defensive forts had been harried by Gideon Force whom had employed propagandists with megaphones to work on the moral of the defenders by fostering the believe that they were being attacked by much larger forces and to provoke desertions, until on the 4th of March the Italian commander Natale, fearing for his line of communication to Debre Marqos and having no idea that the entire besieging force numbered no more than 450 men, evacuated Bure and headed for Dembache on the road to Debre Marqos. “,The East African war has turned into a race to Addis Abada between the army of Abyssinian volunteers and the mechanised South African who stand in such remarkable contrast to each other. The South African troops are advancing from Mogadishu towards Harar, which lies about 30 miles (48 Kilometres) from the Djibouti-Addis Abada railway line.” (American United Press Agency.) The guerrillas were having a major effect on the moral of the Italian troops and their Askaris who would sometimes infiltrate into the middle of an enemy position in the middle of the night and then fight their way out with rifles, grenades and bayonets, sometimes clearing an entire enemy outpost, in the south of the colony the situation was becoming critical because of this the Duke of Aosta ordered the evacuation of Debre Marqos on the 4th April. 12,000 people, including 4,000 women began a 200-mile (320 kilometre) trek to Safartak and then beyond to Dessie. On the 6th April, Haile Selassie entered Debre Marqos where he was formally greeted by Orde Wingate and Ras Hailu, a powerful local Patriot leader. The guerrilla war intensified and the Italians now retreated to the mountain fortress of Gondar, Amba Alagi, Dessie and Gimma. Wingate followed the retreating Italians, the guerrillas harrying them all the way. In early May, many of the Gideon’s force’s men were the enemy had to be called off who were left to dig themselves in at Agibor on the 18th May Colonel Maraventano, the Italian commander was faced by a force of 2,000 men but only a mere 160 were fully trained fighting men. (100 from the frontier Battalion and 60 from the re-reformed 2nd Ethiopian Battalion.) By this, time both sides were short of ammunition, water, food and medical supplies. Not to be outdone Wingate sent a message to the British were about to leave , which would have left the Italian Colonel and his men at the mercy of the Patriot Forces, who had a reputation for torturing prisoners. After discussing the matter with his superiors who left the decision in his hands, Maraventano surrendered on the 23rd May. Wingate accepted the surrender was made Wingate had just 36 soldiers; the rest of his besieging army was made up of Patriots. On the 18th May, another Italian force of 2,500 Italian troops surrendered after their route of retreat had been blocked by a part of the Gideon Force under Wilfred Thesiger. In the north, as the Italian positions at Agordat were being overrun those at Metamma in northern Abyssinia, having been under constant British and Commonwealth pressure for three weeks withdraw towards Gondar, allowing the Indians of the 9th Indian Infantry came hard on the heels of the retreating Italians but passage down the road was difficult as it had been heavily mined. It was here that Premindra Singh Bhagat (14th October 1918 – 23rd May 1975) of the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners won the Victoria Cross. “For the most conspicuous gallantry on active service in the Middle East. During the pursuit of the enemy, following the capture of Metamma on the night of 31st January – 1st February 1941, Second-Lieutenant Bhagat was in command of a section of a field Company, Sapper abnd Miners, detailed to accompany the leading mobile troops (Ben-Carriers) to clear the road adjacent areas of mines. For a period of four days and over a distance of 55 miles this officer in the leading-carrier led the Column. During this period, he himself detected and personally supervised the clearing of no less than 15 minefields of varying dimensions. Speed being essential, he worked at high pressure from dawn to dusk each day. On two occasions when his Carriers were blown up with casualties to others, and on a third occasion when ambushed and under close enemy fire, he himself carried straight on with his task. He refused relief when worn out with stain and fatigue and with one eardrum punctured by an explosion, on the grounds that he was now better qualified to continue his task to the end. His coolness, persistence over a period of 96 hours, and gallantry, not only in battle, but throughout the long period when safety of the column and the speed at which it could advance were dependent on his personnel efforts, were of the highest order.” (London Gazette, 10th June 1941) (Second-Lieutenant Premindra Singh Bhagat of the Royal Sappers and Miners who won the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of the 31st January to 1st February 1941. ) (The Universal Carrier, more commonly known as the Bren-Gun Carrier was widely used by all British and Commonwealth forces on every front in World War Two. Second-lieutenant Bhagat Singh won his Victoria Cross whilst in command of a number of such vehicles when he was involved in mine clearing operations on the road to Gondar.) The British and Commonwealth forces were now nearing the Karen Plateau that would be witness to some of the hardest fighting of the entire campaign. The plateau guarded the important road that connected Asmara with Massawa. In Addis Abada, the Duke of Aosta was confident that his forces would be able to hold though he was concerned over the supply situation. In all East Africa, he had no more than 67 aircraft and many of these were obsolete, types, such as the CR 42 Falcon bi-plane, nowhere near, the 400 he was supposed to have. With the Suez Canal blocked to him, the only way the Italians left for supply was by aircraft that had to bring in new planes one at a time, a very slow and dangerous process. The Battle of Karen.By the 5th of February, the British had become holed up crossing the Baraka River some 40 miles (64 Kilometres) from Karen where the Ponte Mussolini had been blown and the approaches to the river heavily mined. By the 2nd of February, the British were across the river and heading up the Ascidera Valley until they were stopped at the Dongolaas Gorge just 4 miles (6. 4 Kilometres) from Karen, where they were confronted by a roadblock caused by the Italians having blown the overhanging crags to fill the gorge with huge boulders and rocks. On the 3rd February, the 4th Indian division’s 11th Indian Infantry Brigade under Brigadier Reginald Savory (1894 -1980) and after making their reconnaissance made their attack on the 5th February, to the left of the Gorge. The 2nd Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders battled their way to the top of Hill 1616 in front of Sanchil whilst on the following night the 3/14th Punjab Regiment passed through them and advanced on Brig’s Peak where they were faced with a counter-attacked mounted by the 65 Infantry Division, ‘Savoia Grenadiers,’ and Askaris whom after fierce fighting forced the Indians to vacate their positions, retiring back towards Cameron Ridge which was in the process of being reinforced by the 1st (Wellesley’s) 6th Rajputana Rifles. The Italians had crept silently, almost to the Indian position then they had started lobbing grenades. The Indians had responded with machine-gun fire, in the dark the fighting was desperate and confused and sometimes hand-to-hand. “The Indians were unable to close their ranks and the fighting became man to man. Rifles were used like clubs.” (Anonymous Italian soldier.) For the next ten days, the ridge was bitterly contested by both sides with mounting casualties. The Italians fought with desperate courage, giving up ground rarely and launching a number of counter-attacks when forced to do so. Rifle butts and bayonets were used as much as grenades and very soon the area was littered with dead and wounded soldiers. The ridge was overlooked to its front by Sanchil and to its left by Mount Sammana and from behind by other mountains of the Ascidera Valley. The fighting was indeed desperate and often at close quarters, the Cameron Highlands and the Rajputanas only just managed to hang on to their positions as they were under constant attack and were having to carry all their supplies of food, water and ammunition up to 1,500 ft (460 m) across exposed terrain. At one time, a group of Askaris had found themselves in the middle of the Scots. “A group pf Askaris found themselves in the middle of a group of Scots, tall, robust and strong.” (Renato Loffredo, Italian war correspondent) The Askaris who were of slight build seemed doomed until a group of the Savoia Grenadiers rushed to their aid, throwing grenades as they charged. “’One scot, stunned by a hand grenade found two grenadiers on top of him who finished, ,him off. But another, ‘a terrible Scottish advanced, firing his gun in two powerful hands with the butt in his stomach. A hand grenade stopped him. A second arrived. The first exploded between his feet, the second on his chest.’ Now the British rallied. ‘They held light machine-guns like rifles and fired rapidly and powerfully, cutting down everything in front of them.” (Renato Loffredo) Reinforcements had arrived on the 6th February, these were the men of the 5th Indian infantry Brigade, on the 7t, they attacked the Dologorodoc feature east of the Gorge, moving through the Scescilembi Valley (Which the attacking troops had sarcastically dubbed Happy Valley.) and then thrusting from the southeast towards the ridge, connecting Mount Zelele and Mount Falestoh, known as Aqua Col. On the 7th February, Subadar (A Lieutenant in the Indian Army) Richhpal Ram (20th August 1899 -12thFebruary 1941) of the 4th (Outrams) 6th Rajputana Rifles (Who had assumed command when the company commander had been wounded.) took the company and captured Aqua Col and hold it until 04.30 when they ran out of ammunition and were forced to retire to the rest of the battalion having spent most of the day under artillery and mortar fire withdraw in their turn, back to their original starting positions. (One of the best field gun/howitzers ever produced, the almost legendary British QF 25 pounder. It was easy transportable and had a high rate of fire and was used by many nations right up into the 1970s. In the Eritrean and Ethiopian hills it provided valuable support to the British and Dominion troops.) The 2nd Battle of Karen started on the 10th February, when the 3/1st Punjab Regiment attacked Brig’s Peak, gaining the summit of Sanchil Hill by the morning of the 11th February; however the need for men to carry wounded, weapons and equipment meant that there was only two platoons left to defend the hill. The Italians shelled and mortared the hill heavily all day and by the day’s end, the defenders were forced of Sanchil and Brig’s Peak having sustained heavy casualties by a determined attack by the Savoia Grenadiers. Once more, the defenders were thrown into a desperate defence of Cameron Ridge. “We were deployed in a very sandy area which in a way was to our advantage, as despite the frequent shelling we underwent by enemy artillery, the shrapnel was smothered by the sandy soil which saved casualties and on one occasion saved my life. We ate and slept within 10 metres of the gun, which was essential in action, and on this occasion we were awakened at first light with a request for defensive fire on a pre – selected target. We started firing at the usual rate of 1 round per minute. This was very soon increased to 2 per minute and then almost immediately (Zig) to the emergency call of gunfire (as fast as you can). This applied to all our 4 guns in the troop. After about 2 hrs firing No 3 gun on our left (we were No 2) ceased firing, and as there had been no order and we had been shelled during this operation, our No 1 enquired the reason. It appeared the recoil system on the gun had leaked oil, rendering the gun unserviceable. As we were running low on ammunition the Sgt. on No 2 gun suggested that we send over some men to fetch some of his. I was sent with 3 other me to fetch some. ( I must mention here that although I was a driver, when we were in action in a static position, I assisted on the guns.) We did several trips to No 2 and back, carrying either a box of 4 shells or one of 8 cartridge cases. As I started back on my last trip carrying a box of 8 cartridge cases, the enemy started shelling our position. I was about half way back so to turn back was as dangerous and going on, so I just kept going. I was walking through a particular sandy patch over a low dune when a shell landed literally no more than 2 metres from my feet but at the foot of the dune. This probably saved my life as I was covered in sand and bits of grass and swearing at the enemy gunners, but unhurt by shrapnel. I was told afterwards that when my friends saw me disappear into a cloud of sand they called me to see if I was alright, but once they heard me swearing they knew I was untouched – thanks to the sand !” (Alec James Barthorpe) Graves of Italians killed at Karen in Eritrea. The Italians gave the British and Commonwealth troops a very nasty surprise here, they fought back hard, showing great resourcefulness’ and extreme courage. By this stage in the war, the Italian soldier had built up a reputation for being somewhat comic warriors, and of being rather a bit of a push over. But Karen showed just what the Italian could do when he was well led and it did not bare well for the British and Commonwealth forces in Italian East Africa.) (The Battle of Keran) Despite the failure of the Punjabis to hang onto their positions on Sanchil, the attacked on Aqua Col which had been planned for the 12th February went ahead. The 29th Indian Infantry Brigade from the 5th Indian Division was brought up from Barentu. The 4/6Th Rajputana Rifles once more led the attack, starting the assault after a heavy artillery barrage, here Subadar Richhpal Ram won a posthumous Victoria Cross. “During the assault on enemy positions in front of Karen, Eritrea, on the night of 7/8th February 1941, Subadar Richhpal Ram, who was second-in-command of a leading company insisted on accompanying the forward platoon and led its attack on the first objective with great dash and gallantry. His company commander being wounded, he assumed the command of the company, and he led the attack of the remaining two platoons to the finale objective. In the face of heavy fire, some thirty men with this officer at their head rushed the objective with the bayonet and captured it. The part was completely was completely isolated but under the inspiring leadership of Subadar Richhpal Ram. It beat back six enemy counter-attacks between midnight and 04.30 hours. By now. Ammunition had run out, and this officer extricated his command and fought his way back to his battalion with a handful of survivors though the surrounding enemy. Again, in the attack on the same position on the 12th February, this officer led the attack of his company. He pressed on fearlessly and determinedly in the face of heavy accurate fire, and by his personnel example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he died. While lying wounded he continued to wave his men on, and his finale words were. ‘We’ll capture the objective.’ “The heroism, determination and devotion to duty shown by this officer were beyond praise and provided an inspiration to all who saw him.” (The official citation for the award of the Victoria Cross as published 9in the London Gazette on the 4th July 1941) (Subadar {Lieutenant in the Indian Army} Richhpal Ram of the Rajputana Rifles was awarded Britain’s highest decoration for valour, a Posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of the 7/8 February 1941 during the Battle of Karen.) (British artillery in action at the Battle of Karen in Eritrea. The stubborn and gallant resistance of the Italians surprised everybody, Karen was to prove to be a very tough battle and the costliest one raged in Italian East Africa, where the fighting was sometimes hand-to-hand.) As Subadar Richhpal Ram was winning his posthumous VC, the 4/11th Sikh Regiment were pushing up and around to the side of the Aqua Col but their planned attack could not be undertaken as they lacked the extra manpower that was to have come from the 2/5th Mahratta Light Infantry which had been diverted to reinforce the hard pressed defences on Cameron Ridge. Judging on how things had gone so far, Karen, with its gallant defence of the Italians and Askaris, the bitter fighting, some of it hand-to-hand, few among the British and Commonwealth forces waiting to attack had any notions about the Italians being comic-book soldiers, far from it.. If the pays few days were anything to go by then they were in for a very tough fight. “Do not anything think that this is going to be a walk over. It is not. It is going to be a bloody battle: a battle against both enemy and ground. It will be won by the side, which lasts longest. I know you will last longer than they do,. ,And I promise you that I will last longer than my opposite number.” (General William Platte) The British and Commonwealth attack went in at 07.00 hours on the 15th March, the troops of the 4th Indian Infantry Division stormed forward from Cameron Ridge heading for Sanchil, Brig’s Peak, Hog’s Back and the three peaks of Mount Sammana. Once more, the Italians proved that they could fight as well as anybody; the battle ebbed and flowed with attack and counter-attack being mounted time after time. A position would be captured and the Italians would launch a counter-attack and drive their foes from their newly won positions and the whole, bloody, costly process would start again. The fighting was desperate, often at close quarters; casualties were heavy on both sides. Meanwhile on the right, the 5th Indian Infantry Division had started its own attack, advancing on the Dologorodoc feature at 10.30. The assault was led by the Highland Light Infantry (Indian divisions were not always comprised of Indian regiments, a number of British and Gurkha regiments were also included in the divisions.) which were sent in against the two hills known as he Pimple and the Pinnacle but they made little progress as the Italians whom had beaten off the attack of the 11th Brigade poured fire into them from the Sanchil. The scots became pinned down, where they remained without any possibility of re-supply, taking casualties with every passing moment until the onset of darkness permitted a withdrawal. (The Italian East African Campaign saw the last hurrah of many obsolete types. This is a British Bristol Bombay) The attack was now taken up by the 9th Brigade, which was now under the command of Brigadier Messervy. The pinnacle was captured that night by the troops of the 3/4th Mahratta Light infantry, commanded by Denys Reid, (1897 – 1970) with the Frontier Force Regiment, less two companies. “One of the outstanding actions of World war II, decisive in its result and formidable in its achievement… Next morning Messervy scrambled up the Pinnacle to congratulate Reid his Mahrattas and wondered how they had been able to scramble up with their equipment, when he was finding it a pretty tough job without (either)… At the top when he saw the victors, he was overcome by the splendour of their feat and his combative amber eyes filled with tears.” (Crompton Mackenzie in the Eastern Epic.) But still the Italians would not admit defeat. On the early hours of the 16th March, they launched a fierce counter-attack on both the Pinnacle and the Pimple, the fighting lasting for several hours. However, the counter-attack, as gallant as it was left the defenders of the fort seriously weakened abnd while the counter-attack was going in the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment had made their way over a seemingly impossible knife-edge to surprise the defenders of the fort and after a savage fight in which both sides fought with great courage the fort was taken by 06,30, capturing 400 prisoners. ",We moved up the narrow track towards the heights, a long line of heavily laden men---a whole brigade. The moonlight was shining on the Fort, which seemed a very long way above us. Soon the ground below was out of sight, and the only sounds were the scraping of boots on the mule track and the mortar shells whizzing over us to crash lower down. We were glad to leave that area, for the slope of the mountain protected us. "Slowly the line of men snaked upwards towards Dologorodoc, accompanied by mortar fire and desultory shelling from our own field guns. The last hundred yards were quite the worst of all. There was no track---it was just a mass of powdered stone and dust which slipped away as we scrambled up. 1 remember making a last effort, and by a great heave reached the low wall of the Fort. I looked over this wall and leaned against it. Infantry stood in the small trench behind the wall, but there was no Fort at all, only a rocky plateau about one hundred yards in diameter, with a small building to one side." (Captain Brian Gomm) (Universal Carriers, of the 4/11th Sikhs going into action during the fighting at Karen.) That night and all through the following night the British tried hard to capture Brig’s Peak and Sanchil but met with no success. The Italians also repulsed attacks on two other hills both within a mile their stronghold, however by this time British engineers had examined the road block in the Dongolaas Gorge and reported that if they were given covering fire they could clear the road. General Platte agreed and the engineers went to work. Meanwhile, the Italians repeatedly attacked the fort in a desperate effort to gain entry and drive the British out. Between the 18th and the 22nd March, the Italians stormed forward no less than seven times, often being engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. All this as the British rained artillery fire on the attackers and repeatedly attacked them with aircraft; General Frusci complained to the Duke of Aosta that his strength was shrinking under these attacks. (Unlike the British who had to buy Thompson sub-machine guns from the United States until the Sten was introduced the Italians entered the war with a superb sub-machine gun, this was the Beretta Model 38.) On the 24th March, attacks were mounted against the Sanchil in order to draw the Italians attention away from the Dongolaas Gorge, this enabled the West Yorkshires to take their assigned hill unopposed but the 3/5th Mahratta met with stiff resistance from well dug in positions, yet by 07.30 hours the British had captured all three hills and the eastern defences of the gorge were silenced. The next day the 2nd Highland Light Infantry and the 4/10th Baluch Regiment on their right moved forward from the cover of the railway tunnel which had been previously cleared by the sappers and miners up the gorge. At 100-gun barrage was now raining shells on the Sanchil to prevent any fire coming from it towards the gorge. The 3/2nd Punjab Regiment then came forward, moving up between the Baluchis and the West Yorkshire to clear the gorge by 05.30 most of their objectives had been achieved abnd the Italians no longer hold any positions from which they could fire into the gorge. By the following day, the British engineers had finally blasted the roadblock in the Dongolaas Gorge; tanks could now be brought up. The British guns now turned their attention to Zeban and Fallstoh. The 29th Brigade now launched their attacks but on gaining the Italian positions, they found them abandoned. The Italian position was now untenable and they had no choice to retreat to Asmara, harried all the way by the RAF. The Italians… “…were so exhausted and dispirited that sometimes they did not even more off the roads when strafed.” (South African pilot) The fighting at Karen was over; it had been a tough ,soldier’s, battle that dispelled the myth of the Italians being comic opera soldiers. “Karen was hard a soldier’s battle as was ever fought, and let it be said that nowhere in the war did the Germans fight more stubbornly than those (,Italian,) Savoia battalions, Alpini. Bersaglieri and Grenadiers. In the (first) five days ‘fight,’ the Italians suffered nearly 5,000 casualties – 1,135 of them killed. (Lorenzilil,) the gallant young Italian genera, had his head blown off by one of the British guns. He had been a great leader of Eritrean troops. The unfortunate licence of wartime propaganda allowed the British press to represent the Italians as comic warriors; but except for the German parachute division in Italy and the Japanese in Burma no enemy with whom British and Indian troops’ were matched put up a finer fight than those Savoia battalions at Karen. Moreover, the colonial troops, until they cracked at the very end, fought with valour and resolution, and their staunches was a testimony to the excellence of the Italian administration abd military training in Eritrea.” (Compton Mackenzie in the Eritrean Epic.) Casualties had been high on both sides, the British abnd Commonwealth forces had suffered over 4,000 killed, wounded and missing, whilst the Italians suffered 3,000 killed and 4,500 wounded and many more take and many more taken prisoner. Though there was still more fighting laying ahead the defeated at Karen broke the back of the Italian resistance. (A cemetery shows the real price of war, the human cost. This one is for British and Commonwealth dead killed in the battle of Karen, The fighting here was heavy and casualties on both sides high. The cemetery lies 1.2 miles {2 kilometres} from the town of Karen in Eritrea.) (Italian Alpini soldier. The disasters suffered by the Italian army in Greece and North Africa had led to the Italians gaining a bad reputation, being far too ready to surrender. However, Italy’s defeats were more down to lack of proper modern equipment and good leadership rather than to lack of courage. On occasion, when the Italian was well lead he proved himself to be as brave as any German or Allied soldier, nowhere was this more evident than in Italian East Africa where the fighting was bitter and costly to both sides. The Italian troops in East Africa were blessed with a number of outstanding commanders who inspired confidence in their men, men such as Luigi Frusci, the Duke of Aosta and Guglielmo Nasi.) Asmara. The 5th Indian Division now set off after the retreating Italians and for the Eritrean capital of Asmara, which lay 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the south. The Italians fought a number of delaying actions yet they made no major stand; they formed a new defensive position at Ad Teclesan in a narrow valley. The 80th Colonial Division was brought up from Gondar along with the two remaining battalion of Savoia grenadiers from Addis Abada; however their morale was low after their defeat at Karen and they put up little resistance when the British attack metalized on the 31 st March. The British troops entered Asmara on the 1 st April 1941 after the capital had been declared an open city, the honour of capturing the place fell to the 5 th Indian Division whom took 5,000 prisoners and captured the entire reserve equipment for the whole of Italian East Africa which included 1,500,000 shells and up to 3000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. Platte now wired the British command in Khartoum that he was in the Eritrean capital; pointing out that the message was “Not, repeat NOT, an April fool.” Three days after the fall of Asmara the British and Commonwealth forces set of for Massawa 50 miles (80 Kilometres) away on the coast. Massawa. Rear-Admiral Mario Bonnetti who was appointed to command the defensive of the port had his disposal 1,000 veterans of Karen; it seemed that another bloody battle was in the offering. Out at sea things went better for the Italians. On the 20th February 1941, the Italian armed-merchant ,Ramb I ,(3,667 tons) tried to slip out of the port. The vessel along with its sister was an auxiliary cruiser or merchant raiders and were armed with four 120-mm guns and a collection of 13.2 anti-aircraft guns. Another armed cruiser was the ,Eritrea, ,that was slower than both the Ramb ships and slimily armed. The ,Ramb I ,fell foul to the New Zealand Cruiser HMNZS ,Leander ,off the Maldives and sent to the bottom, though the ,Ramb II ,and the ,Eritrea ,successfully evaded the British and reached Kobe in Japan. All four of the remaining Italian submarines also escaped, arriving at Bordeaux on the 7th and 20th May. In Massawa, however the anticipated bloody battle did not metalize, the defenders lacking fuel, ammunition and food crumpled after some strong opposition in which the Indian infantry broke through the outer defences of the city and encircled its landward sides whilst RAF bombers attacked the Italian artillery positions. The Italian surrender followed on the 8th April, netting the British 9,500 prisoners. In the three month, drive through Eritrea the British and Commonwealth forces had captured 40,000 prisoners and 400 guns. Of the remaining seven Italian destroyers in the one, one suffered engine trouble and was scuttled, the remaining six were ordered to attack the fuel tanks at Port Sudan. Two of these were sunk by Fairy Swordfish of the Royal Fleet Air Arm and from the carrier ,Eagle (,21,850.) Two more, ,were damaged and one scuttled off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The motorboat MAS-213 had some success when it torpedoed and damaged the cruiser Capetown (4’180 tons) that had been escorting a convoy of Massawa. (The Italian merchant cruiser ,Ramb I ,sinks of the Maldives, 27th February 1941) Before giving up the port, the Italians scuttled more than a score of ships. The remaining Italian position at Assab hold out for several weeks after the fall of Massawa. The 16th March 1941 saw the launch of operation Appearance, two battalions of the Indian Army coming from Aden and one Somali commando unit were landed on both sides of Berbera by ships of Force D, these being the cruisers, HMS, Glasgow ,(9’100 tons) and HMS ,Caledon ,(4,190 tons) along with the destroyers HMS, Kandahar ,and HMS ,Kipling,, the auxiliary cruisers HMIS ,Chakdina and HMIS Chantal, ,the trawlers HMIS ,Netevati ,and HMIS ,Parvati, ,two transports and the motor launch 109. Two Sikh battalions, whom had been evacuated from the British Somalia back in August 1940, made the landings, which were the First Allied landings on an enemy hold beach in World War Two. As the Sikhs came ashore the Italian colonel in command of the defending garrison who was suffering from Malaria along with half of his force met them with 60 men, the entire Berbera garrison had been low on food and water for weeks. The Italians stood in formation and waited to surrender. “,War can be very embarrassing,” ,a British officer later wrote. Hargesia was captured on the 20th March after that, for the next few months the British and Commonwealth troops occupied themselves clearing the colony from the lack of its former invaders. The Somaliland Camel Corps was reformed which was soon at work looking for Italians and dealing with bandits. Now the colony was back in British hands, they could turn their attention to Ethiopia, crossing the border and linking up with Cunningham‘s force in late March around Harar and Diredawa. But sporadic resistance continued as guerrilla bands began to appear in East Africa forcing the British to deploy aircraft and tanks that were badly needed on other fronts, some holding out until the summer of 1942. One of the last three Italians guerrillas to lay down his arms was Corrado Turchetti who wrote in his memoirs that some of the guerrillas continued to resist until October 1943, a number of Eritreans and even some Ethiopians helped the Italian guerrillas but after the Axis defeat at El Alamein their numbers dwindled. Two of the most noteworthy successes of the guerrillas was the blowing up an ammunition depot in Massawa in January 1942 by Francesco De Martini (Awarded Italy’s highest award for gallantry, the Gold Medal for Military Valour). De Martini also organized a group of small boats, manned by Eritrean sailors who kept watch on the movement of British ships and informed Rome of their location and headings with his radio. Like in the Boar of at the turn of the century, the British resorted to concentration camps,(Not to be confused with extermination camps) it was decided to detain the majority of the Italian coastal population in Somalia in camps, in order, it was claimed to avoid possible contact with Japanese submarines. Another British depot was exploded in Addis Abada by Rosa Dainelli, she had been a doctor before the war, her demolition destroyed ammunition destined for the British Sten sub-machine gun; delaying its entry into into service. She earned fame for being one of the few Italian women to actively take part in armed opposition to the British take-over pf Italian East Africa. Back in January 1941 Cunningham led his first attacks across the Kenyan border into Abyssinia, (During WW2 Abyssinia officially Ethiopia) he knew that the wet season was fast approaching yet he was hoping that he could get the Abyssinians to raise up in open revolt against the Italians; it was hoped that this would pin the Italian forces down and prevent them from sending reinforcements to oppose the main invasion when that started in Jubaland. At the start things went well for the British and Commonwealth forces, they captured El Yibo on the 18th January 1941, and on the 19th, the South Africans captured Jumbo, on the 24th, and the 25th (Breda M37. Unlike the troublesome Breda 30 the Breda M37 was far more effective and gave the Italians good support in the defensive role.) Cunningham’s men were fighting on the Turbi Road however his hopes that the Abyssinians would raise up were not realised. In mid-February the anticipated rains came, grinding the southern attack force to a halt but only after it had captured Gorai, El Gumu, Hobok and Banno and reached the Yavello Road. The South Africans then launched a two-pronged flanking movement towards Mega in which temperatures dropped to near freezing and the South Africans suffered cases of exposure however, after a three-day battle; they took the town on the 18th February. 70 miles (112 kilometres) southwest of Mega, on the Kenyan border, the town of Moyale was captured by a patrol of Abyssinian irregular troops whom had been attached to the South African Division. Back on the 24th February 1941, Cunningham’s main force crossed the border into Italian Somaliland, the 11th, South African Division and the 12th African Division attacked from Kenya, yet the Italians had already decided that the plains of Italian Somaliand culd not be defended in the teeth of superior British armour and aircraft. Most of the Italian and Askari forces were already being woithdrawn to the mountains of Ethiopia as a result Cunningham’s men encountered few Italians east of the Juba River. However, as the South Africans and Africans tried to cross the Juba River they met with unexpected resistance as the crossing sights were defended by six companies of native levies. Cunningham launched operation Canvas with four brigades, the men taking part were told to expect little resistance and for once, the information was right, as little resistance was indeed all that was encountered. The Italian main position located at Jelib to the Kismayu was attacked from both sides. The Italians were defeated with the loss of 30,000 men in dead, wounded and captured o dispersed into the bush. All through this the Italian aircraft, which most consisted of obsolete types apart from a few of the excellent Savoia-Marchetti SM79s took no part in the fighting having been roughly handled by the South African fighters. (The very effective Mills bomb grenade. Pictured from left to right are No 5, 23 and 36 variants.) Cunningham was now to advance on Mogadishu, 200 miles (321 Kilometres) away, virtually unopposed, which was captured by the 11th Motorised Nigerian Brigade on the 11th African Division on the 25th February 1941. By the beginning of March most of Italian Somaliland was in British hands, the fall of the province was followed by an advance into Ethiopia and the capture of Addis Ababa on the 6th April. Cunningham’s forces had advanced 1,725 miles (2,776 kilometres) from Kenya to reach the Ethiopian capital. On the 5th May, Emperor Haile Selassie formally entered Addis Ababa, five years to the day since the Italians had captured his capital. Back in January 1941 Cunningham led his first attacks across the Kenyan border into Abyssinia, (During WW2 Abyssinia officially Ethiopia) he knew that the wet season was fast approaching yet he was hoping that he could get the Abyssinians to raise up in open revolt against the Italians; it was hoped that this would pin the Italian forces down and prevent them from sending reinforcements to oppose the main invasion when that started in Jubaland. At the start things went well for the British and Commonwealth forces, they captured El Yibo on the 18th January 1941, and on the 19th, the South Africans captured Jumbo, on the 24th, and the 25th Cunningham’s men were fighting on the Turbi Road however his hopes that the Abyssinians would raise up were not realised. In mid-February the anticipated rains came, grinding the southern attack force to a halt but only after it had captured Gorai, El Gumu, Hobok and Banno and reached the Yavello Road. The South Africans then launched a two-pronged flanking movement towards Mega in which temperatures dropped to near freezing and the South Africans suffered cases of exposure however, after a three-day battle; they took the town on the 18th February. 70 miles (112 kilometres) southwest of Mega, on the Kenyan border, the town of Moyale was captured by a patrol of Abyssinian irregular troops whom had been attached to the South African Division. (One of the best light Machine-guns of World War 2 was the British Bren. It was actually an adoption and improvement of a Czechoslovak design, the ZB vz 26 (Pictured below) and the name Bren comes from Brno where the zbrojovka armaments factory is and Enfield in England where the Bren was first manufactured. Back on the 24th February 1941, Cunningham’s main force crossed the border into Italian Somaliland, the 11th, South African Division and the 12th African Division attacked from Kenya, yet the Italians had already decided that the plains of Italian Somaliland could not be defended in the teeth of superior British armour and aircraft. Most of the Italian and Askari forces were already being withdrawn to the mountains of Ethiopia as a result Cunningham’s men encountered few Italians east of the Juba River. However, as the South Africans and Africans tried to cross the Juba River they met with unexpected resistance as the crossing sights were defended by six companies of native levies. Cunningham launched operation Canvas with four brigades, the men taking part were told to expect little resistance and for once, the information was right, as little resistance was indeed all that was encountered. The Italian main position located at Jelib to the Kismayu was attacked from both sides. The Italians were defeated with the loss of 30,000 men in dead, wounded and captured o dispersed into the bush. All through this the Italian aircraft, which most consisted of obsolete types apart from a few of the excellent Savoia-Marchetti SM79s took no part in the fighting having been roughly handled by the South African fighters. Cunningham was now to advance on Mogadishu, 200 miles (321 Kilometres) away, virtually unopposed, which was captured by the 11th Motorised Nigerian Brigade on the 11th African Division on the 25th February 1941. By the beginning of March most of Italian Somaliland was in British hands, the fall of the province was followed by an advance into Ethiopia and the capture of Addis Ababa on the 6th April. Cunningham’s forces had advanced 1,725 miles (2,776 kilometres) from Kenya to reach the Ethiopian capital. On the 5th May, Emperor Haile Selassie formally entered Addis Ababa, five years to the day since the Italians had captured his capital. (The Savoia-Marchetti SM 79. The SM 79, Sparviero, or Sparrowhawk or in English, was a superb all round bomber and one of the few modern types at the disposal of the Italians in East Africa. The problem for the Italians was twofold; first, the difficulty in supplying spare parts to a colony that was surrounded on three sides by British territory and on the fourth by a Royal Navy dominated Indian Ocean, second problem was simply that there were too few of them. The SM 79 would be responsible to sinking 700,000 tons of Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. These machines are from the 193ª Squadriglia (193th Squadrilla), 87º Gruppo (87th Group), 30º Stormo (30th Wing). (Another view of the SM 79, though the aircraft excelled as a torpedo-bomber she also served well as a medium bomber and in this role the Sparrowhawk was mostly used in Italian East Africa.) The Battle of Amba Alagi. The Duke of Aosta had chosen to make his headquarters on the high mountains stronghold of Amba Alagi, earlier he had wired Mussolini. “,It only remains for us to resist whenever we can and for as long as we can.” ,The Duce replied. ,“Resist to the last minute of human endurance.” The fortress of Amba Alagi was 11,000 feet above sea level; it commanded several lower hills and a narrow hairpin road known as the Toselli Pass. The Duke of Aosta had at his disposal 5,000 men, yet many of them were not proper soldiers, being airmen; sailors and policemen with little combat experience, most of his Askaris had fled. “The Eritreans are tired. They have been raging war for six years nonstop and have had enough. They have gone home.” (The Duke of Aosta) General Platte gave the newly promoted Major-General Mosley Mayne (1889 -1955) of the Indian, 5th Infantry Division the task of taking the fortress. Mayne believed that the Italians were spread too thin by stretching them thinner he hoped to create a weak spot and exploit it. The British troops started the attack on the 4th and 5 th May supported by massed artillery fire, they captured three of the Italian positions to the west of Amba Alagi. Three days later, they managed to capture another two hills to the south and followed this up by taking another hill east of the Duke’s position. The Duke of Aosta was now surrounded yet in spite of constant bombing and shelling he refused to surrender. (The standard Italian grenade was the OTO Mod 35——’To use, the pull tab with the attached safety strip is withdrawn, just prior to throwing, unlocking the safety lever. When thrown the lever was to catch the air and be pulled from the grenade, removing the safety bar from between the firing pin and the primer.This was an open terrain grenade, as some amount of time and distance was required to allow the mechanism to function properly, which it had a tendency not to do.’——Wikipedia) “Constant firing all day long. We spend the day jumping from one rock to another, belly to the ground, with grenades splinters coming from all sides volleys from machine-guns that hit the rocks behind us, splattering us with pieces of stone.. We are covered with dust and dirt from the explosions.” (The Duke of Aosta) On the 12th May, Brigadier Dan Pienaar’s (27th August 1898 – 19th December 1942) arrived with the 1st South African Brigade. Facing the Italians were now 20,000 Ethiopians irregulars and 9,000 British and South African troops but the Italians resisted fiercely. “Every three minutes. A plane dives on us, shooting with its front machine-guns, then drops stick bombs on us and finally gives us another firing from the rear gun. The noise was unbearable I wish this diary could have a sound track.” (The Duke of Aosta.) (Italian poster calling for revenge against the British for their takeover of Italian East Africa. ) A finale attack was planned but a lucky hit from the British artillery hit the Italian fuel dump sending the oil streaming into the defenders last remaining drinking water, this compelled the Italians to surrender. The Italians were allowed to march out in full order with their colours flying, in exchange for the Duke of Aosta pointing out all the mines and booby-traps. “The Duke of Aosta was delighted with my concession and, as he told me, gave a rigid and unmistakable edit that the handover was to be complete and clean, making it quite clear that any breach of his orders would mean that he had broken his word. So the Italians did play up. We got everything intact and no one, save Abyssinian patriots who broke all bounds in their search for loot and deserved their fate, suffered so much as a scratch from a hidden mine, although there were plenty of them about.” (Major-General Mosely Mayne) The Duke of Aosta had suffered with malaria for the last month of the fighting; he would later succumb to the disease and Tuberculosis in a British POW camp. In spite of the surrender of the Duke, some Italian units continued to fight on, the port of Assab and the mountain strongholds of Gondar and Jimma remained in Italian hands. Italian General Pieto Gazzera (11th December 1879 – 30th 1953) had been faced with growing irregular patriot forces even before Cunningham moved against him. He was cut off however by the Belgian General Auguste-Eduard Gillaert. (7th March 1894 -10th May 1973) On the 3rd of July where he surrendered himself and the last of his 7,000 men. On the 10th June, however on the 13th, the Indian trawler, the HMIS ,Parvati ,struck a magnetic mine and sank, becoming the last maritime casualty of the campaign. General Guglielmo Nasi in command of the remaining Italian forces at Gondar where he hold out for almost seven months until he finally surrendered his last 23,500 men on the 27th November 1941. The British, impressed by his stand, accorded him full, military honours In the air the Italian pilots battled on until the last, flying mostly obsolete aircraft and heavily outnumbered they bravely went up time and time again, on the 24th October 1941, the last Italian aircraft in East Africa was shot down. The campaign was over, however the Italians had fought with great courage and determination, in some of the battles, especially at Karen, proving that well led the Italian soldier could be a very formidable foe. (After a gallant defence, at Amba Alagi and again at Gondar, the surrendering Italian troops are formally saluted by the British and allowed to march of their positions carrying their arms before going into captivity ) (General Alan Cunningham, overall all commander of the British and Commonwealth forces in Italian East Africa Campaign) SOURCES. Books. 1) World War II. Italy at War. Time Life series. By henry Adams. Time Life. Web.- 1) Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39. ,www.44.com 2) Galeazzo Ciano. Wikipedia. 3) Aviation, the first 100 years. Caproni Ca 133. ,www.pilotfriend.com 4) ,www.airforce-art.com 5) East African Campaign, 1940 -41. ,East African Campaign, 1940-41 6) Universal Carrier. Wikipedia. 7) Surviving shellfire in the Battle of Karen. ,Heavy civilian casualties as the Allies bomb Paris,st-February-1941-surviving- 8) shellfire-in-the-battle-for-Karen 9) Ourstory.infro/library/4-ww2/ball.fireTC.html#TC 10) ,Cemetery,. 11) Iron Legions. ,http://Ironlegion.weebly.com 12) Wings Palette. Savoia-Marchetti 13) ,p://www.apkmodgame.net/tag/world-war-ii-east-african-campaign-1941 14) hot{ww.old.endignorance.orc 15) East African Campaign. Wikipedia. 16) Menelik II. Wikipedia. 17) Haile Selassie I. Wikipedia. 18) Fiat CR 42 Falcon. Wikipedia. 19) Breda Light Machine-gun. Wikipedia. 20) Brixia model 35 mortar. Wikipedia. 21) Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta. Wikipedia. 22) Guglielmo Nasi. Wikipedia. 23) Wilfred Thesiger. Wikipedia. 24) Gallabat. Wikipedia. 25) Arthur Reginald Chater. Wikipedia. 26) Somaliland Camel corps. Wikipedia. 27) Carlo de Simone. Wikipedia. 28) Alfred Reade Godwin-Austin. Wikipedia. 29) Italian conquest of British Somaliland. Wikipedia. 30) QF. 3.7-inch mountain howitzer. Wikipedia. 31) HMS ,Ceres (,59). Wikipedia,. 32) HMAS ,Hobart. ,Wikipedia. 33) Hawker Hart. Wikipedia. 34) HMS X2. Wikipedia. 35) HMS ,Kandahar,. (28) Wikipedia. 36) HMS ,Kingston. ,(64) Wikipedia. 37) Shoreham Glass Sloop. Wikipedia. 38) HMS ,Khartoum. ,(45) Wikipedia. 39) HMNZS ,Leander. ,Wikipedia. 40) HMS ,Kimberly,. (F50) Wikipedia. 41) William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim. Wikipedia. 42) Gloster Gladiator. Wikipedia. 43) Luigi Frusci. Wikipedia. 44) William Platte. Wikipedia. 45) Noel Beresford-Peirse. Wikipedia. 46) Lewis Heath. Wikipedia. 47) Bernard Campbell Fletcher. Wikipedia. 48) Thomas Wynford Rees. Wikipedia. 49) Premindra Singh Bhagat. Wikipedia. 50) Orde Wingate. Wikipedia. 51) Pieto Badoglio. Wikipedia. 52) Daniel Sandford. (British Army officer) Wikipedia. 53) Gideon Force. Wikipedia. 54) Sir Alan Cunningham. Wikipedia. 55) Imperial Ethiopia. Haile Selassie. 56) Gold Coast. Wikipedia. 57) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson. Wikipedia. 58) Vickers Machine-Gun. Wikipedia. 59) Battle of Karen. Wikipedia. 60) Reginald Savory. Wikipedia. 61) 11th Infantry Brigade. Wikipedia. 62) Richhpal Ram. Wikipedia. 63) Denys Whitethorn Reid. Wikipedia. 64) ,Ramb I. ,Wikipedia. 65) HMS, Eagle. ,Wikipedia. 66) C Glass cruisers. Wikipedia. 67) HMS ,Glasgow. ,Wikipedia,. 68) HM ,Caledon. ,Wikipedia. 69) Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia. Wikipedia. 70) Francesco De Martini. Wikipedia. 71) Gold medal for military valour. Wikipedia. 72) Rosa Dainelli. Wikipedia. 73) Italian Guerrilla War in Ethiopia. World War 2. 74) Revisiting resistance in Italian Ethiopia. The Patriots’ movement. (1936 -1941) and the redefinition of post-war Ethiopia. 75) Savoia-Marchetti SM 79. Wikipedia. 76) Mosley Mayne. Wikipedia. 77) Second Battle of Amba Alagi. Wikipedia. 78) Dan Pienaar. Wikipedia. 79) Military History of Italy during World War II. Wikipedia. 80) Pieto Gazzera. Wikipedia. 81) Auguste-Eduard Gillaert. Wikipedia. 82) OTO Mod 36 wikipedia 83) 25 pounder Wikipedia. 84) Breda 30 Wikipedia. 85). Bristol Bombay. Wikipedia. 86) Bren. Wikipedia.

What are the most unknown facts on the Second World War?

I can think of an entire campaign that was overlooked in WW2. This was the East African Campaign, the events here were overshadowed by what was going on in North Africa. One thing the East African Campaign did was to squash the myth of the Italian soldier being a coward. (Italian artillery in Abyssinia during Italy’s 1935 invasion. Italy’s East African Empire would be the setting for the East African Campaign.) On 23rd June 1940, just three days after the Italian dictator declared war on Britain and France, a small middle-aged African man going by the name of Mr Strong stepped on board a Royal Air Force Short Sunderland Flying boat at Poole’s waterfront in southern England. The aircraft took off on a day’s journey that was fraught with danger as the route took the Sunderland over German occupied France. The plane made a stop at Alexandria in Egypt then it continued on its way to the capital of the Sudan, Khartoum. At this time, the Sudan was a country that was ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt having been so ruled since 1898 after the crushing of the Devishes army at Omdurman. When the aircraft settled down on the Nile, there was only a handful of people in the Nile Port of 42,000 who knew of the real identity of Mr Strong and these were now on the dockside, ready to welcome him. The man alighting from the aircraft was none other than the former Emperor of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Haile Selassie (23rd July 1892 – 27th August 1975), known as the ‘Lion of Judah.’ Selassie had fled his native land to exile in London in 1936 when Italy invaded and on the 9th May, Benito Mussolini proclaimed the Italian East African Empire. (Africa Orentale Italiana or AOI) The British were hoping to use him to stir up a revolt against the Italian colonial administration in Abyssinia while the British and Commonwealth army led a multi-pronged force from the surrounding British colonies. If a revolt could be imitated amongst the 10 million inhabitants it would make the British task so much easier. Italian East Africa was made up of Abyssinia and the Italian colonies of Eretria and Italian Somaliland in 1895 to 1896. First Italo-Abyssinian War the Italians had been soundly defeated at the Battle of Adowa by the forces of Emperor Menelik II (17th August 1844–12th (Smiling South African troops with a captured Italian flag in Italian East Africa in 1941) December 1913). Mussolini used the Adowa disaster as his flimsy excuse for invading Abyssinia, long had he dreamed of an Italian empire to rival that of ancient Rome and of avenging the dead of Adowa. The Italians had pitted modern artillery, tanks, aircraft and poison gas against an army with antiquated firearms and spears, against the modern weapons of the Italian war-machine there was little the Abyssinians could do. Things were made even easier for the Italians by the inactivity of the League of Nations who did little more than to protest. (Italian East Africa on the eve of the war) When the Kingdom of Egypt declared neutrality during the Second World War the Anglo-Egyptian treaty drawn up in 1936 allowed the British to station troops in Egypt to safe guard the Suez Canal. At this time the Kingdom of Egypt included the Sudan, however the Sudan at this time was jointly governed by both Egypt and Britain in a condominium known as the Anglo-Egyptian-Sudan. On the 10th June 1940 Mussolini brought Italy into World War Two be declaring war on the British and French and Italian forces in Africa became a threat to the British supply lines along the Red Sea and along the Suez Canal. (The Italian Breda light machine-gun was one of the worst LMGs ever issued to troops. It frequently jammed and had no carrying handle.) The position of the Italians in their East African colonies was precarious surrounded to the north (Sudan) west (Southern Sudan and Kenya) and east (British Somaliland and by the British Royal Navy the issues of supplying the Italians garrisons would be almost impossible. On paper, the British forces in the area seemed formidable but the figure was misleading. “Minerals that could have justified the lavish expenditure on sea bases, public works, roads and bridges had not been found in quantities that would cover he cost of the necessary machinery. The expected discovery of oil had not been made, trade was negligible: public security was non-existent and in consequence revenue from the agriculture could not be collected; nor did this condition tend to attract foreign capital, in spite of strenuous effects by the Italian government,.” (Robert E Cheesman) On paper, the Italians had 370,000 men in East Africa and almost 400 aircraft. Against them all the British could muster was a mere 19,000 troops. The British forces like those of the Italians was made up mostly of colonials but they were well trained and often well led whereas up to 70% of the Italian colonial troops (called Askaris) were poorly trained and often took their families with them on campaign. The Somali colonial and Eritrean troops of the ‘Royal Corps of Colonial Troops,’ were among the best of the Askaris. “They were fierce hand-to-hand fighters with bayonets, swords and daggers but they did not know what to do when they came under heavy shelling and staffing.” (Anonymous Italian officer.) A major concern for the Italians was the state of their equipment, most of the Askaris and many of the Italians were issued with obsolete rifles that the Allies had given to Italy as reparations after World War One. The most important fighter available to the Italians in the theater was a biplane, the fiat CR 42 Falcon which was armed with one 12.7 mm and one 7.7 mm machine-gun (A later variant, the Bis replaced the 7.7 mm with a 12.7 mm machine-gun) and had a top speed of only 272 mph (438 kph) “When the English engage us our fighters cannot follow them, as their bombers are faster than our fighters.” (Anonymous Italian pilot.) (The Fiat CR 42 Falcon was the mainstay of the Italian fighter force in Italian East Africa. Though very maneuverable it was slow and armed only with two machine-guns. These two aircraft are from the 162nd Fighter Squadron of the 161st ‘Autonomous Terrestrial Fighter Group’ stationed in the Aegean Island in 1940.) The standard Italian light machine-gun was the Breda surely one of the worst machine-guns every to be issued to an army as it was prone to jamming and had a badly designed cooling system that resulted in rounds cooking off inside the gun which sometimes had fatal results for the operator, in addition there was no carrying handle. Much of the artillery was World War One vintage and the Brixia Model 35 mortar was little more than a grenade launcher which bombs had a very low yield though in experienced hands it proved to be an effective weapon, armour was negligible. The heaviest tanks available being 24 Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39s which were slow and so thinly armoured that they were vulnerable to British 2-pounder guns at almost any range, they were mechanically unreliable and its armour was riveted, which meant that when hit the rivets could come loose and ricochet inside the tanks like bullets. (The Italian Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39 was obsolete in 1940 but it was all the Italians had in East Africa in armour. 24 machines were available, however due to the rivets they were death traps for the crews, as when hit the rivets tended to come loose and ricochet inside the tank like bullets. They were also thinly armoured and vulnerable to even the British 2 pounder Anti-Tank gun.) Even Mussolini who liked to think that the Italian army was as good as any other army in the world; that it was made up of courageous young men as the same mould as those that had served the caesars and emperors of old had few illustrations regarding its capabilities. He was in Fact relaying on a swift German victory in Europe to save his African territories. “,It will be sufficient if the empire holds out for three months,” ,he had told the Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta (21st October 1898 – 3rd March 1942) who was governor-general of Italian East Africa. As the Germans swept on from victory to victory, Mussolini saw his chance; he believed that when Hitler divided up the British Empire he would be able to add Kenya and Tanganyika (Tanzania) to his East African possessions “,It was the chance of 5,000 years,” ,said the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano. (18th March 1903 – 11th January 1944) Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law was against the war from the start, he knew that Italy’s armed forces were in no state for a war with a major power like Britain or France. On learning of Mussolini’s declaration of war he said, “,I’m sad, very sad. The adventure begins. May god help Italy.” ,He constantly disagreed with Mussolini resulting in his arrest and imprisonment. Being the son-in-law to the Italian dictator did not save him from a Fascist firing squad however as he was shot on the 11th January 1944, his last words being “,Long live Italy.” The 13th of June witnessed the opening moves of the campaign, when three Italian Caproni bombers bombed a Rhodesian air base at a fort at Wajir in Kenya , damaging two aircraft, setting fire to a fuel dumb and killing four soldiers from the King’s African Rifles (KAR) whom had been stationed in the fort. This would be the start of a number of air raids against Wajir that would occur regularly as the few elderly Hawker Hardy’s (Tropicalized version of the Hawker Hart bomber) flown by the Rhodesians were totally outdated and outclassed by the Italian aircraft. Retaliation came on the 17th June when Rhodesian aircraft supported a raid mounted by the KAR on the Italian outpost of El Wak in Italian Somaliland. The Italians were quick to move, taking full advantage of his huge superiority in numbers, Lieutenant-General Guglielmo Nasi (3rd June 1910 – 24th August 2003) Just across the border from Metamma some 200 miles (320 kilometres) from Kassala also taken were the villages of Qaysan, Kurmuk and Dumbode on the Blue Nile. Because of lack the Nasi decided to advance no further into the Sudan, instead they were content to fortify Kassala. The Italians also advanced into Kenya and after some heavy fighting occupied Fort Harington at Moyale, by the end of July they had occupied Dabel and Buna; these small villages were located nearly one-hundred miles from the Kenyan-Ethiopian border and were to be the high-water mark of the Italian penetration into Kenya. During the following six weeks, Nasi also invaded British Somaliand with approximately 25,000. The invasion got underway on the 3rd August with five colonial Brigade, three Blackshirt battalions and three bands (Banda) of native troops and a collection of both light and medium tanks, backed for a moment by superior air support. Defending British Somalliland was 4,000 men under the command of Brigadier Arthur Reginald Chater (1896 – 1979) consisting of the Somaliland Camel Corps who were so under-equipped that Chater was appalled, he had tried to partially mechanise the unit but this was only partially completed before the funds dried up. Chater also had the 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalion of the King’s African Rifles, the 1st east African Light Battery equipped with four 3.7 howitzers. These merger forces were joined on the 7th August by the 1st Battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment arriving from Aden and on the 8th August by the 2nd Battalion Black Watch. The British were not only short of artillery, they had no tanks or armoured cars and lacked anti-tanks guns. (One field in which Italy did excel was in pistol design. Italian pistols were highly regarded, this 1935 Beretta remained in service until 1991.) The Italian invasion was in three columns with the western most advancing towards Zeila, whilst the central column, the main force under Lieutenant-General Carlo de Simone (1885 -1951) headed towards Hargesia and the eastern column towards Odweina. The Camel Corps skirmished with the Italians, bravely trying to delay them as the British pulled back to Tug Argan where they intended to form a defensive position in the Assa Hills overlooking the road to Berbera on the coast. Within two days of the start of the invasion, the Italians captured Zeila and Hargesia; this effectively sealed off British Somaliland from neighbouring French Somaliland. The Central column was temporally hold up at Hargesia by the Camel Corps and by a company of the Northern Rhodesian Regiment but the Italians throw in some light tanks and the defenders were compelled to fall back. The next day Nasi’s forces took Odweina whilst his central and eastern columns combined to launch attacks against the British and Commonwealth positions located on Tug Argan. In the first week of August, the British received welcome reinforcements with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment and the 2nd Battalion Black Watch. On the 11th August Major-General Reade Godwin-Austin (1889 – 1963) arrived and took over command from Arthur Reginald Chater. (During the fighting around Hargesia, the Italians broke the resistance of the Somaliland Camel Corps and a company of the northern Rhodesian Regiment by throwing in light tanks like this L 3 Tankette. Lacking any anti-tank guns the Commonwealth troops were forced to give up their positions. This particular L 3 can be seen in the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg. ) By the 10th of August, de Simone was preparing for an attack on the British and Commonwealth positions at Tug Argan; these were centered on six hills that overlooked the only road to the capital of the colony, Berbera. The Battle of Tug Argan got underway on the 11th August, when an Italian brigade launched an attack on a hill defended by men of the 3rd Battalion, 15th Punjab regiment and after a bitter battle in which the Italians suffered heavy casualties, took it. In response, the British counter-attacked twice but each attack met with failure, though they managed to beat off two Italian assaults on two other hills. The next day De Simone assaulted all the British positions, taking full advantage of his superior numbers. By the onset of darkness, after severe fighting, in which the Italians fought with extreme courage, the North Rhodesian Regiment was thrown off Mill Hill but far more serious than the loss of the Mill Hill was the loss of two of only four 3.7 mm Howitzers at the disposal of the defenders and that the Italians had established themselves on the Assa Hills that dominated the gap over which the Berbera road ran. On the 11th and 14th August, the Italians had been unable to take any more positions in spite of very heavy fighting and mounting casualties but the attackers continued to improve their positions by infiltrate. By the 14th August, the situation for the defenders had become critical, De Simone’s troops were on the verge of cutting the road and the British only supply route. On the 15th August, seeing no other way for his men than retreat or annihilation Godwin-Austin ordered a retirement to Berbera. (The British 3.7 QF {Quick-firing} Howitzer. During the 1940 Italian invasion of British Somaliland, four of these guns made up the entire British artillery train. This example can be seen in the artillery, Firepower Museum in London. It was a sound artillery piece however; by 1940, it was showing its age, having entered service with the British army in 1917. ) It was during the fighting at Tug Argan that captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson (2nd October 1912 -23rd December 2008) won his Victoria Cross. “The king has been pleased to approve the reward of the Victoria Cross to: “Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, East Surrey Regiment (Attached to the Somaliland Camel Corps.) “For most conspicuous gallantry on service in Somaliland. Captain Wilson was in command of machine-gun posts manned by Somali soldiers in the key position of Observation Hill, a defended post in the defensive organisation of the Tug Argan Gap in British Somaliland. The gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his range. He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within several hundred yards, and scored two direct his through the loopholes of his defences, which bursting within post, wounding Captain Wilson severally in the right shoulder and left eye, several of his team being also wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired them and replaced them. On August 12 and 14th, the enemy again concentrated field artillery fire on Captain Wilson’s guns, but he continued, with his wounds untended, to man them. On August the 15th, two of his machine-gun posts were blown to pieces, yet Captain Wilson, now suffering from malaria in addition to wounds, still kept his own post in action. The enemy finally overran his post at 5. Pm on the 15th August when Captain Wilson, fighting to the last was killed.” (The formal citation for the award of the Victoria Cross to Captain Wilson) (Captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson. It was whilst in command of a machine-gun section of Vickers machine-guns (Below,) that he won the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 12th to the 15th August, 1940 in British Somaliland) The citation erred on reporting of Captain Wilson’s death, it would later be discovered that he was a prisoner of war. He was released from captivity in 1941 when he returned to England to receive his Victory Cross at Buckingham Palace in July 1942. (The Italian conquest of British Somaliland) On the 17th August, reports came that the Italians had reached Bulhar, just 40 miles (64 km) west of Berbera. Just of the coast, the elderly light cruiser HMS ,Ceres (,4,190 tons) fired on the invaders and managed to bring them to a halt. The Italians advancing from Tug Argan approached the British and commonwealth read-guard positions established at Barkasan fought back with great courage, even at one stage counter-attacking with a bayonet charge against a British attack carried out by the black watch; after dark the rear-guard after having resisted continuous increasing pressure from the Italians received orders instructing them to withdraw to Berbera. The entire British and Commonwealth force now retired to the port, making it to Berbera with minimal casualties were they were embarked onto the ships, the loading being completed on the 18th August. However, HMS ,Hobart, (7,105 tons) with the force headquarters abroad remained in the colony’s capital collecting stragglers and destroying vehicles and stores until the morning of the 19th August, before setting sail for Aden. Three of the crew were reported missing and feared dead, they would later turn up in an Italian prisoner of war camp becoming the first Australians to become POWs in World War Two but 17,000 people, military and civilians personnel had been successfully evacuated. The men of the Somaliland Camel Corps and other Somali units were given the choice of being evacuated or being left behind, most chose to stay, they were allowed to retain their arms. (The situation on the 19th August. The conquest of British Somaliland put the Italians dangerously close to the important British port of Aden.) The British received little Italian interference during the evacuation. It is quite possible that the Duke of Aosta and Nasi let them go in the hope of a possible peace agreement to be mediated by the Vatican. On the 19th August 1940, the Italians occupied Berbera and advanced down the coat to complete their conquest of the territory, Mussolini annexed British Somaliland as part of the empire of Italian East Africa. The invasion had seen some fierce fighting; most notable at Tug Argan and Barkasan with the British saying they sustained 250 casualties and inflicted 205 on the Italians. However, official British historical sources on the history of the Second World War state that the British casualties were in fact 260 and the Italians and Askaris were 2,052. (The Italian Caproni CA 133, was old and slow and clearly obsolete by 1940. However, the Italians still had a number of these transport/ light bomber aircraft in East Africa and they carried out the first Italian air raids of the war in that theater, meeting with a degree of success, chief because the British and commonwealth aircraft in the area were just as old and obsolete as the Caproni.) At sea, the Italians suffered appalling losses, losing four of their eight submarines of the Red Sea Flotilla that had been operating out of Massawa. These were the, ,Macalle, ,which ran aground on the 15th June, the ,Galileo Galilei (,880) which was captured by the K Glass destroyer HMS ,Kandahar (,1,690 tons) on the 16th June after a gun battle with an armed trawler named the ,Moonstone, ,a fight in which the Italian captain was killed. The prize was subsequently renamed the X-2. On the 23rd of June, the Brin glass submarine ,Evangelista Torricelli ,was sunk by the British destroyers HMS ,Kandahar ,and HMS ,Kingston, (1,690 tons) and the sloop HMS ,Shoreham ,off French Somaliland, as a mark of respect for his gallantry the Italian captain of the ,Evangelista Torricelli ,was the guest of honour at a dinner party at the British base. On the 24th June the, Luigi Galvani,, after sinking the Indian sloop ,Pathan ,was in turn sank by the Sloop HMS ,Falmouth ,(1,105 tons) in the Gulf of Oman. Several hours later, the British destroyer HMS ,Khartoum ,(1,690 tons) sank after catching fire and suffering an external explosion. (The Italian Carcano 1891 rifle. It was basically a good rifle and it served Italy well. One of these was used to kill US President J. F Kennedy) Between 20th and 21st October, the British convoy BN 7 of 31 ships sailing to Port Sudan and Suez was attacked by three Italian destroyers. The attack on the convoy was driven with the loss to the Italians of the ,Francesco Nullo, ,which was driven aground by New Zealand cruiser HMZNS ,Leander ,(7,270 tons) and the British destroyer HMS ,Kimberley ,(1,690 tons) and destroyed the next day by RAF Bristol Blenheim bombers. The build-up for the counter-offensive against Italian East Africa began on the 5th September 1940 when the 5th Indian Infantry Division started to arrive in the Sudan. Its 29th Indian Brigade was positioned on the Red Sea coast to protect Port Sudan, the 9th Indian infantry Brigade were placed southwest of Kassala and the 10th Infantry Brigade was sent to Gederaf where it accompanied the division headquarters. On 6th November the British launched a surprise attack under Brigadier-General Sir William ‘Bill,’ Slim (6th August 1891 – 15th December 1970) with some 7,000 troops on the Sudanese town of Gallabat, one of the towns the Italians had captured in July. Slim planned to take Gallabat with a combined infantry and tank assault across a dry riverbed into Abyssinia and the border town of Metamma. Though Slim’s men captured the town of Gallabat the attack met with failure on the first day when the Italians air force shot down seven of Slim’s merger supply of Gloster Gladiator bi-plane fighters for five of their CR 42s. Lieutenant-General Luigi Frusci, (16th January 1879 – 1979) acting governor of Eritrea and commander of all the Italian forces in and around Gallabat was not about to give up the Italian positions in the Sudan, His men occupied strong positions behind belts of barbed wire so thick that they could only be broken by tanks. For the next forty-eight hours the ‘Regia Aeronautica Italia,’ struck at the British and Commonwealth troops. Deprived of their air cover the Allied Infantry were easy targets for strafing and bombing attacks and 42 of them were killed and a further 125 wounded. Slim could see that he had no other choice but to withdraw. The first large scale attack on Italian East Africa had been beaten back. (The British Gloster Gladiator was the only fighter available to Brigadier-General William Slim during the early days of the Italian East African campaign. Unfortunately for the British and Commonwealth forces it was marginally out-glassed by its Italian bi-plane counter-part, the Fiat CR 42 Falcon as was evident on the 6th November 1840 when seven Gladiators were lost to Italian fighters whilst the Italians lost five of their own. ) (A South African Gloster Gladiator falls preys to the guns of an Italian CR 42 Falcon east of Metamma piloted by Captain Antonio Raffi of the 412th a Squadriglia. Painting by Ivan Berryman. Captain Raffi’s CR 42s shot down five Gladiators from K flight 1st South African Squadron clearly demonstrating the marginally superior quality of the CR 42 over the British bi-plane.) The British did not lose heart however and soon selected a new target, this was Kassala. If it could be taken then a route would have been opened up from the north into the heart of Eritrea, including the capital of Asmara, and Massawa, the only colony’s largest Red Sea Port. However, the Duke of Aosta ordered both Gallabat and Kassala abandoned in early January 1941 before the British were ready to launch their new offensive. The Italian Duke had not been deceived by the victory at Gallabat he knew that the next time the British with their modern armour would make short work of his poorly equipped forces on the plains of the Sudan’s western Eritrea. He therefore ordered Frusci to withdraw his 50,000 men to the more rugged terrain of Agordat and Barentu respectfully 150 and 100 miles (241 and 160 kilometres) east of Kassala. In the air, the balance of power had shifted to the British with the delivery of more Gloster Gladiators and Hawker Hurricane fighters. The Hurricanes were vastly superior to the CR 42s and the Gladiators were nearly their equal though the Italian fighters did have an edge in speed over the British bi-plane. These RAF fighters could play havoc with the Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 81s and SM 79s bombers. Since their arrival the British and strafed and bombed a large Italian motor convoy in the vicinity of Kassala. (The standard British and Dominion troops rifle during the Campaign. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE). The SMLE was a fine rifle and was probably the best battlefield bolt-action rifle ever produced.) (The fighting for Kassala was bitter and costly for both sides.This map shows the location of the town) Frusci could not maintain even his new positions for long in the face of increasing British and Commonwealth numbers and supplies. On the 27th January two Indian divisions the 4th under Major-General Noel Beresford-Peirse (22nd December 1887 -14th January 1953) and the 5th under Major-General Lewis Heath (1885 – 1954) under the command of Major-General William Platte (1885 – 1975) had reached Agordat which was defended by the four infantry brigades of the brigades of Italian 4th Division supported by 76 guns that were positioned on two hills moving from east to west, in addition the Italians had a company each of medium and light tanks in support. At the same time that the Allies were, approaching Agordat two Indian brigades had been sent south towards Barentu. The British had at first tried to work their way round to the flanks of the Italian positions from the north but they found their way blocked by an impassable river and by a determined counter-attacking Italian force of five colonial brigades supported by mountain guns so they decided instead to try and take the eastern hill in a direct assault. Three days of hard fighting ensured, with great courage being displayed by both sides. At one point, an officer led a cavalry charge straight into the teeth of the British guns. (The Battle of Agordat) “Lieutenant Renato Togni charged down the hill on a white horse. His men galloped to within 100 feet of the guns, firing from their horses and throwing hand grenades while our artillery, turning 180 guns on the British, fired at ground level.” (Anonymous correspondent for a Milan Newspaper.) The failure of the gallant charge broke the spirit of the defenders and on the 31st January, the eastern hill fell, the Italians had had several tanks knocked out by the British armour during the assault. The Axis tanks had been positioned between two hills awaiting their change to counter-attack. By the evening, the road to Karen had been cut and the defenders isolated. The Italians tried to slip away during the hours of darkness but 1,000 prisoners were taken and 43 artillery pieces captured, the survivors abandoned their vehicles and fled towards the Karen Plateau. Meanwhile the 5th Indian Division had captured Barentu without the aid of tanks, despite the place being defended by 8,000 men in well-prepared positions and backed by 32 guns. Within nine days, the Indians had advanced 100 miles (160 kilometres) and taken 6,000 prisoners and captured 80 guns, 26 tanks and 400 lorries. (These captured Italian Fiat-Ansaldo M 11/39 Medium tanks were just some of the war booty seized by the British at Agordat. The tank was glassed as obsolete in 1940 and was easy meat to the British anti-tank gunners due to its thin armour.) During a strafing attack by Italians fighters on 21st January Brigadier William Slim was wounded during the advance of the 5th Indian division and his command of the 10th Indian Infantry Brigade was assumed temporally by Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard Fletcher (1898 – 1968) commander of the 2nd Highland Light infantry Battalion until he was relieved by Brigadier Thomas ‘Pete,’ Rees (12th January 1989 -15 October 1959) in March. As the fighting was raging in the North in the south in Kenya, British numbers were increasing rapidly. By the end of 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Cunningham had managed to raise an army of 75,000 men (1st May 1885 -30th January 1983) recruiting from Britain, South Africa, Rhodesia, the Gold Coast (Ghana) and Nigeria. One of the British and Commonwealth forces first priorities was to capture the fortified town of El Wak near the border of Kenya and Italian Somaliland. There was really no reason to attack the town as it could easily be passed-past but Cunningham fought it would be a good way for his troops to get some experience. On 6th December 1940, South African and Gold Coast troops approached the outskirts of the town, when suddenly the Italians opened fire. “Shells came down the road, hitting and bouncing with a nasty thump and going by. Making such a noise that you thought you could stretch out your hands and touch them. Everyone looked absolutely flabbergasted that the Italians had fired first. It had all been so peaceful, and anyway, it was we who were raiding the Italians; it seemed definately unfair.” (Anonymous South African soldier) In spite of the Italian fire, the South Africans pressed on with their attack, advancing through thick bush. Then the attackers came up against barbed wire, they blasted holes in it with Bangalore torpedoes. “Suddenly we found ourselves right on top of the Italian wire – where we had no business to be. Tanks came through the gap behind us and went straight into action. The Italians morale was so shaken by the unexpected appearance of the tanks and our troops advancing steadily through their fire they seemed to collapse completely.” (An anonymous South African soldier) (A trio of South African Gladiators. South Africa was a major player in the East African Campaign. Painting by Don Bell) El Wak had been an easy victory but much tougher fighting was to follow. Furious on learning how Italian soldiers had broken and run Mussolini fired the General in charge, Gustavo Presenti and had him replaced by Major-General Carlos De Simone. In early 1941, Cunningham set out with the majority of his command for the Somali port of Kismayu on the Indian Ocean. He met little resistance and reached the city on the evening of 14th February 1941, only to discover that the Italians had evacuated the place. The Italians had left the port in a shambles through; many of the men had been more concerned with saving their personnel possessions rather than retreating in any orderly fashion. Three days earlier the Duke of Aosta, fearing the Kismayu position could not be hold had ordered it abandoned and for its garrison to retire to well-prepared positions on the Juba River. The Italian had managed to move some of their artillery but they had left behind large stores of other weapons and supplies. In one incident, a machine-gunner was ordered to dump his guns out of the back of the lorry to make room for an officer’s luggage. “Here we are 500 men without a machine-gun. The soldiers are asking. “How are we going to stop tanks?” (Italian unit commander.) The Italians regrouped at Jumbo were they planned to make a start on the Juba River. (The Juba {Jubba) River) De Simone was relaying on the river to stop the enemy, he knew that he did not have either the men or the arms to stop the British all along the river’s 800 mile length; flowing from Abyssinia across Italian Somaliland to the Indian Ocean. However, the river at Jumbo was only 200 yards wide and was crossable only by a single pontoon bridge which was rapidly blown up by the Italian engineers. The approaches to the river were covered in thick thorn that the British and Commonwealth troops would have to negotiate their way through before they could even attempt a crossing of the river. However, if the British could punch a hole through De Simone’s lines at Jumbo then there would only be a few Italian positions left between them and the city of Mogadishu, the capital of Italian Somaliland. On the night of the 17th February, a unit of South Africans tried to cross the river but they were detected, whereupon they were shelled by the defenders artillery whom fired as much as 3,000 shells at the attackers in less than three hours. The South Africans started to look for another place to cross, they were in luck, they located a ford 10 miles (16 kilometres) upstream at Yonte where there was an old ferry crossing where the water was only waist deep. On the 18 February, the South Africans made the crossing at dusk, beating off an Italian counter-attack the following morning. The South Africans followed up the repulse of the Italian attack by approaching Jumbo from the rear of the town on the 19th February, three days later another South African detachment captured the town of Jelib, 50 miles (80 Kilometres) to the north. Several weeks before the South African crossing of the Juba, Haile Selassie entered Abyssinia near the village of Um Iddla on the 18th January and on the 20th, when he alighted from a creaky old British Valentia troop transport. Aircraft dressed in Khaki and wearing a large pitch helmet. He marched resolutely towards a flagpole that had been erected in a riverbed. ,“I am now entering Ethiopia to crush our common enemy,,” the emperor announced to the crowd that included two of his sons and then raised the red, green and gold flag of Ethiopia on the flagpole. (A tank of the South Africa, Light Tank Company towing a captured Italian field gun near El Wak.) The ceremony over the hills Selassie joined up with the Gideon Force of British led African guerrillas under the command of the eccentric Orde Wingate (26th February 1903 – 24th March 1944) that was already operating in the country. The standard of the Lion of Judah was once more raised in Selassie’s native land. The exiled emperor made his crossing some 450 miles (720 kilometres) northwest of Abyssinia’s capital of Addis Abada while Selassie had been forced to flee when the city had been captured by Pieto Badoglio on the 5th May `1936 (28th September 1871 – 1st November 1956) Over the next three months, the Gideon force conducted a guerrilla campaign in the province Gojjam. Selassie and Gideon moved around the province rallying the populace whenever they could with loudspeakers, which had been supplied to the guerrillas in an attempt to persuade the local tribesmen and Italian Askaris to desert the Italian cause. Though the force was small, by using surprise and bluff they became a major thorn in the side of the Italians with their small raids and ambushes and by disrupting the Italian supplies and providing intelligence to the more conventional British and Commonwealth forces Wingate had strongly argued to be allowed to raise such guerrilla units to operate behind enemy lines believing that… “To raise a revolt you must send a Corps d’Elite to do exploits and not just as peddlers of war material and cash. A thousand resolute and well-armed men can paralyse 10,000.” (,Orde Wingate) In March a bitter argument accrued between Wingate and Colonel Daniel Sandford (18th June 1882 – 22nd January 1972) over the distribution of supplies to Wingate’s forces and other Abyssinian partisan bands, Sandford ascertained that Wingate was taking the lion’s share of rifles, packsaddles and ammunition. With an equal amongst all the groups not only operating in Gojjam but throughout Abyssinia, Sandford believed that the impact would be better felt by the occupiers. The dispute went on until it led to the mutiny of the 2nd Ethiopian Battalion at the beginning of April. Wingate, whom had been laid up sick with a bout of Malaria, had to leave his bed to deal with the situation by dismissing the battalion’s commander after which the 2nd rallied to their new officer and performed well for the rest of the campaign. Ethiopia’s ‘Patriot,’ took Bure on the 6th March 1941 winning the first significant victory. (Ethiopian Patriots transport supplies by camel, 22nd January 1941. ) From the 27 February, the Italian garrison at Bure in well-sighted defensive forts had been harried by Gideon Force whom had employed propagandists with megaphones to work on the moral of the defenders by fostering the believe that they were being attacked by much larger forces and to provoke desertions, until on the 4th of March the Italian commander Natale, fearing for his line of communication to Debre Marqos and having no idea that the entire besieging force numbered no more than 450 men, evacuated Bure and headed for Dembache on the road to Debre Marqos. “,The East African war has turned into a race to Addis Abada between the army of Abyssinian volunteers and the mechanised South African who stand in such remarkable contrast to each other. The South African troops are advancing from Mogadishu towards Harar, which lies about 30 miles (48 Kilometres) from the Djibouti-Addis Abada railway line.” (American United Press Agency.) The guerrillas were having a major effect on the moral of the Italian troops and their Askaris who would sometimes infiltrate into the middle of an enemy position in the middle of the night and then fight their way out with rifles, grenades and bayonets, sometimes clearing an entire enemy outpost, in the south of the colony the situation was becoming critical because of this the Duke of Aosta ordered the evacuation of Debre Marqos on the 4th April. 12,000 people, including 4,000 women began a 200-mile (320 kilometre) trek to Safartak and then beyond to Dessie. On the 6th April, Haile Selassie entered Debre Marqos where he was formally greeted by Orde Wingate and Ras Hailu, a powerful local Patriot leader. The guerrilla war intensified and the Italians now retreated to the mountain fortress of Gondar, Amba Alagi, Dessie and Gimma. Wingate followed the retreating Italians, the guerrillas harrying them all the way. In early May, many of the Gideon’s force’s men were the enemy had to be called off who were left to dig themselves in at Agibor on the 18th May Colonel Maraventano, the Italian commander was faced by a force of 2,000 men but only a mere 160 were fully trained fighting men. (100 from the frontier Battalion and 60 from the re-reformed 2nd Ethiopian Battalion.) By this, time both sides were short of ammunition, water, food and medical supplies. Not to be outdone Wingate sent a message to the British were about to leave , which would have left the Italian Colonel and his men at the mercy of the Patriot Forces, who had a reputation for torturing prisoners. After discussing the matter with his superiors who left the decision in his hands, Maraventano surrendered on the 23rd May. Wingate accepted the surrender was made Wingate had just 36 soldiers; the rest of his besieging army was made up of Patriots. On the 18th May, another Italian force of 2,500 Italian troops surrendered after their route of retreat had been blocked by a part of the Gideon Force under Wilfred Thesiger. In the north, as the Italian positions at Agordat were being overrun those at Metamma in northern Abyssinia, having been under constant British and Commonwealth pressure for three weeks withdraw towards Gondar, allowing the Indians of the 9th Indian Infantry came hard on the heels of the retreating Italians but passage down the road was difficult as it had been heavily mined. It was here that Premindra Singh Bhagat (14th October 1918 – 23rd May 1975) of the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners won the Victoria Cross. “For the most conspicuous gallantry on active service in the Middle East. During the pursuit of the enemy, following the capture of Metamma on the night of 31st January – 1st February 1941, Second-Lieutenant Bhagat was in command of a section of a field Company, Sapper abnd Miners, detailed to accompany the leading mobile troops (Ben-Carriers) to clear the road adjacent areas of mines. For a period of four days and over a distance of 55 miles this officer in the leading-carrier led the Column. During this period, he himself detected and personally supervised the clearing of no less than 15 minefields of varying dimensions. Speed being essential, he worked at high pressure from dawn to dusk each day. On two occasions when his Carriers were blown up with casualties to others, and on a third occasion when ambushed and under close enemy fire, he himself carried straight on with his task. He refused relief when worn out with stain and fatigue and with one eardrum punctured by an explosion, on the grounds that he was now better qualified to continue his task to the end. His coolness, persistence over a period of 96 hours, and gallantry, not only in battle, but throughout the long period when safety of the column and the speed at which it could advance were dependent on his personnel efforts, were of the highest order.” (London Gazette, 10th June 1941) (Second-Lieutenant Premindra Singh Bhagat of the Royal Sappers and Miners who won the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of the 31st January to 1st February 1941. ) (The Universal Carrier, more commonly known as the Bren-Gun Carrier was widely used by all British and Commonwealth forces on every front in World War Two. Second-lieutenant Bhagat Singh won his Victoria Cross whilst in command of a number of such vehicles when he was involved in mine clearing operations on the road to Gondar.) The British and Commonwealth forces were now nearing the Karen Plateau that would be witness to some of the hardest fighting of the entire campaign. The plateau guarded the important road that connected Asmara with Massawa. In Addis Abada, the Duke of Aosta was confident that his forces would be able to hold though he was concerned over the supply situation. In all East Africa, he had no more than 67 aircraft and many of these were obsolete, types, such as the CR 42 Falcon bi-plane, nowhere near, the 400 he was supposed to have. With the Suez Canal blocked to him, the only way the Italians left for supply was by aircraft that had to bring in new planes one at a time, a very slow and dangerous process. The Battle of ,Karen. By, the 5th of February, the British had become holed up crossing the Baraka River some 40 miles (64 Kilometres) from Karen where the Ponte Mussolini had been blown and the approaches to the river heavily mined. By the 2nd of February, the British were across the river and heading up the Ascidera Valley until they were stopped at the Dongolaas Gorge just 4 miles (6. 4 Kilometres) from Karen, where they were confronted by a roadblock caused by the Italians having blown the overhanging crags to fill the gorge with huge boulders and rocks. On the 3rd February, the 4th Indian division’s 11th Indian Infantry Brigade under Brigadier Reginald Savory (1894 -1980) and after making their reconnaissance made their attack on the 5th February, to the left of the Gorge. The 2nd Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders battled their way to the top of Hill 1616 in front of Sanchil whilst on the following night the 3/14th Punjab Regiment passed through them and advanced on Brig’s Peak where they were faced with a counter-attacked mounted by the 65 Infantry Division, ‘Savoia Grenadiers,’ and Askaris whom after fierce fighting forced the Indians to vacate their positions, retiring back towards Cameron Ridge which was in the process of being reinforced by the 1st (Wellesley’s) 6th Rajputana Rifles. The Italians had crept silently, almost to the Indian position then they had started lobbing grenades. The Indians had responded with machine-gun fire, in the dark the fighting was desperate and confused and sometimes hand-to-hand. “The Indians were unable to close their ranks and the fighting became man to man. Rifles were used like clubs.” (Anonymous Italian soldier.) For the next ten days, the ridge was bitterly contested by both sides with mounting casualties. The Italians fought with desperate courage, giving up ground rarely and launching a number of counter-attacks when forced to do so. Rifle butts and bayonets were used as much as grenades and very soon the area was littered with dead and wounded soldiers. The ridge was overlooked to its front by Sanchil and to its left by Mount Sammana and from behind by other mountains of the Ascidera Valley. The fighting was indeed desperate and often at close quarters, the Cameron Highlands and the Rajputanas only just managed to hang on to their positions as they were under constant attack and were having to carry all their supplies of food, water and ammunition up to 1,500 ft (460 m) across exposed terrain. At one time, a group of Askaris had found themselves in the middle of the Scots. “A group pf Askaris found themselves in the middle of a group of Scots, tall, robust and strong.” (Renato Loffredo, Italian war correspondent) The Askaris who were of slight build seemed doomed until a group of the Savoia Grenadiers rushed to their aid, throwing grenades as they charged. “’One scot, stunned by a hand grenade found two grenadiers on top of him who finishedhim off. But another, ‘a terrible Scottish advanced, firing his gun in two powerful hands with the butt in his stomach. A hand grenade stopped him. A second arrived. The first exploded between his feet, the second on his chest.’ Now the British rallied. ‘They held light machine-guns like rifles and fired rapidly and powerfully, cutting down everything in front of them.” (Renato Loffredo) Reinforcements had arrived on the 6th February, these were the men of the 5th Indian infantry Brigade, on the 7t, they attacked the Dologorodoc feature east of the Gorge, moving through the Scescilembi Valley (Which the attacking troops had sarcastically dubbed Happy Valley.) and then thrusting from the southeast towards the ridge, connecting Mount Zelele and Mount Falestoh, known as Aqua Col. On the 7th February, Subadar (A Lieutenant in the Indian Army) Richhpal Ram (20th August 1899 -12thFebruary 1941) of the 4th (Outrams) 6th Rajputana Rifles (Who had assumed command when the company commander had been wounded.) took the company and captured Aqua Col and hold it until 04.30 when they ran out of ammunition and were forced to retire to the rest of the battalion having spent most of the day under artillery and mortar fire withdraw in their turn, back to their original starting positions. (One of the best field gun/howitzers ever produced, the almost legendary British QF 25 pounder. It was easy transportable and had a high rate of fire and was used by many nations right up into the 1970s. In the Eritrean and Ethiopian hills it provided valuable support to the British and Dominion troops.) The 2nd Battle of Karen started on the 10th February, when the 3/1st Punjab Regiment attacked Brig’s Peak, gaining the summit of Sanchil Hill by the morning of the 11th February; however the need for men to carry wounded, weapons and equipment meant that there was only two platoons left to defend the hill. The Italians shelled and mortared the hill heavily all day and by the day’s end, the defenders were forced of Sanchil and Brig’s Peak having sustained heavy casualties by a determined attack by the Savoia Grenadiers. Once more, the defenders were thrown into a desperate defence of Cameron Ridge. “We were deployed in a very sandy area which in a way was to our advantage, as despite the frequent shelling we underwent by enemy artillery, the shrapnel was smothered by the sandy soil which saved casualties and on one occasion saved my life. We ate and slept within 10 metres of the gun, which was essential in action, and on this occasion we were awakened at first light with a request for defensive fire on a pre – selected target. We started firing at the usual rate of 1 round per minute. This was very soon increased to 2 per minute and then almost immediately (Zig) to the emergency call of gunfire (as fast as you can). This applied to all our 4 guns in the troop. After about 2 hrs firing No 3 gun on our left (we were No 2) ceased firing, and as there had been no order and we had been shelled during this operation, our No 1 enquired the reason. It appeared the recoil system on the gun had leaked oil, rendering the gun unserviceable. As we were running low on ammunition the Sgt. on No 2 gun suggested that we send over some men to fetch some of his. I was sent with 3 other me to fetch some. ( I must mention here that although I was a driver, when we were in action in a static position, I assisted on the guns.) We did several trips to No 2 and back, carrying either a box of 4 shells or one of 8 cartridge cases. As I started back on my last trip carrying a box of 8 cartridge cases, the enemy started shelling our position. I was about half way back so to turn back was as dangerous and going on, so I just kept going. I was walking through a particular sandy patch over a low dune when a shell landed literally no more than 2 metres from my feet but at the foot of the dune. This probably saved my life as I was covered in sand and bits of grass and swearing at the enemy gunners, but unhurt by shrapnel. I was told afterwards that when my friends saw me disappear into a cloud of sand they called me to see if I was alright, but once they heard me swearing they knew I was untouched – thanks to the sand !” (Alec James Barthorpe) Graves of Italians killed at Karen in Eritrea. The Italians gave the British and Commonwealth troops a very nasty surprise here, they fought back hard, showing great resourcefulness’ and extreme courage. By this stage in the war, the Italian soldier had built up a reputation for being somewhat comic warriors, and of being rather a bit of a push over. But Karen showed just what the Italian could do when he was well led and it did not bare well for the British and Commonwealth forces in Italian East Africa.) (The Battle of Karen) Despite the failure of the Punjabis to hang onto their positions on Sanchil, the attacked on Aqua Col which had been planned for the 12th February went ahead. The 29th Indian Infantry Brigade from the 5th Indian Division was brought up from Barentu. The 4/6Th Rajputana Rifles once more led the attack, starting the assault after a heavy artillery barrage, here Subadar Richhpal Ram won a posthumous Victoria Cross. “During the assault on enemy positions in front of Karen, Eritrea, on the night of 7/8th February 1941, Subadar Richhpal Ram, who was second-in-command of a leading company insisted on accompanying the forward platoon and led its attack on the first objective with great dash and gallantry. His company commander being wounded, he assumed the command of the company, and he led the attack of the remaining two platoons to the finale objective. In the face of heavy fire, some thirty men with this officer at their head rushed the objective with the bayonet and captured it. The part was completely was completely isolated but under the inspiring leadership of Subadar Richhpal Ram. It beat back six enemy counter-attacks between midnight and 04.30 hours. By now. Ammunition had run out, and this officer extricated his command and fought his way back to his battalion with a handful of survivors though the surrounding enemy. Again, in the attack on the same position on the 12th February, this officer led the attack of his company. He pressed on fearlessly and determinedly in the face of heavy accurate fire, and by his personnel example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he died. While lying wounded he continued to wave his men on, and his finale words were. ‘We’ll capture the objective.’ “The heroism, determination and devotion to duty shown by this officer were beyond praise and provided an inspiration to all who saw him.” (The official citation for the award of the Victoria Cross as published 9in the London Gazette on the 4th July 1941) (Subadar {Lieutenant in the Indian Army} Richhpal Ram of the Rajputana Rifles was awarded Britain’s highest decoration for valour, a Posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of the 7/8 February 1941 during the Battle of Karen.) (British artillery in action at the Battle of Karen in Eritrea. The stubborn and gallant resistance of the Italians surprised everybody, Karen was to prove to be a very tough battle and the costliest one raged in Italian East Africa, where the fighting was sometimes hand-to-hand.) As Subadar Richhpal Ram was winning his posthumous VC, the 4/11th Sikh Regiment were pushing up and around to the side of the Aqua Col but their planned attack could not be undertaken as they lacked the extra manpower that was to have come from the 2/5th Mahratta Light Infantry which had been diverted to reinforce the hard pressed defences on Cameron Ridge. Judging on how things had gone so far, Karen, with its gallant defence of the Italians and Askaris, the bitter fighting, some of it hand-to-hand, few among the British and Commonwealth forces waiting to attack had any notions about the Italians being comic-book soldiers, far from it.. If the pays few days were anything to go by then they were in for a very tough fight. “Do not anything think that this is going to be a walk over. It is not. It is going to be a bloody battle: a battle against both enemy and ground. It will be won by the side, which lasts longest. I know you will last longer than they do,. ,And I promise you that I will last longer than my opposite number.” (General William Platte) The British and Commonwealth attack went in at 07.00 hours on the 15th March, the troops of the 4th Indian Infantry Division stormed forward from Cameron Ridge heading for Sanchil, Brig’s Peak, Hog’s Back and the three peaks of Mount Sammana. Once more, the Italians proved that they could fight as well as anybody; the battle ebbed and flowed with attack and counter-attack being mounted time after time. A position would be captured and the Italians would launch a counter-attack and drive their foes from their newly won positions and the whole, bloody, costly process would start again. The fighting was desperate, often at close quarters; casualties were heavy on both sides. Meanwhile on the right, the 5th Indian Infantry Division had started its own attack, advancing on the Dologorodoc feature at 10.30. The assault was led by the Highland Light Infantry (Indian divisions were not always comprised of Indian regiments, a number of British and Gurkha regiments were also included in the divisions.) which were sent in against the two hills known as he Pimple and the Pinnacle but they made little progress as the Italians whom had beaten off the attack of the 11th Brigade poured fire into them from the Sanchil. The scots became pinned down, where they remained without any possibility of re-supply, taking casualties with every passing moment until the onset of darkness permitted a withdrawal. (The Italian East African Campaign saw the last hurrah of many obsolete types. This is a British Bristol Bombay) The attack was now taken up by the 9th Brigade, which was now under the command of Brigadier Messervy. The pinnacle was captured that night by the troops of the 3/4th Mahratta Light infantry, commanded by Denys Reid, (1897 – 1970) with the Frontier Force Regiment, less two companies. “One of the outstanding actions of World war II, decisive in its result and formidable in its achievement… Next morning Messervy scrambled up the Pinnacle to congratulate Reid his Mahrattas and wondered how they had been able to scramble up with their equipment, when he was finding it a pretty tough job without (either)… At the top when he saw the victors, he was overcome by the splendour of their feat and his combative amber eyes filled with tears.” (Crompton Mackenzie in the Eastern Epic.) But still the Italians would not admit defeat. On the early hours of the 16th March, they launched a fierce counter-attack on both the Pinnacle and the Pimple, the fighting lasting for several hours. However, the counter-attack, as gallant as it was left the defenders of the fort seriously weakened and while the counter-attack was going in the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment had made their way over a seemingly impossible knife-edge to surprise the defenders of the fort and after a savage fight in which both sides fought with great courage the fort was taken by 06,30, capturing 400 prisoners. ",We moved up the narrow track towards the heights, a long line of heavily laden men---a whole brigade. The moonlight was shining on the Fort, which seemed a very long way above us. Soon the ground below was out of sight, and the only sounds were the scraping of boots on the mule track and the mortar shells whizzing over us to crash lower down. We were glad to leave that area, for the slope of the mountain protected us. "Slowly the line of men snaked upwards towards Dologorodoc, accompanied by mortar fire and desultory shelling from our own field guns. The last hundred yards were quite the worst of all. There was no track---it was just a mass of powdered stone and dust which slipped away as we scrambled up. 1 remember making a last effort, and by a great heave reached the low wall of the Fort. I looked over this wall and leaned against it. Infantry stood in the small trench behind the wall, but there was no Fort at all, only a rocky plateau about one hundred yards in diameter, with a small building to one side." (Captain Brian Gomm) (Universal Carriers, of the 4/11th Sikhs going into action during the fighting at Karen.) That night and all through the following night the British tried hard to capture Brig’s Peak and Sanchil but met with no success. The Italians also repulsed attacks on two other hills both within a mile their stronghold, however by this time British engineers had examined the road block in the Dongolaas Gorge and reported that if they were given covering fire they could clear the road. General Platte agreed and the engineers went to work. Meanwhile, the Italians repeatedly attacked the fort in a desperate effort to gain entry and drive the British out. Between the 18th and the 22nd March, the Italians stormed forward no less than seven times, often being engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. All this as the British rained artillery fire on the attackers and repeatedly attacked them with aircraft; General Frusci complained to the Duke of Aosta that his strength was shrinking under these attacks. (Unlike the British who had to buy Thompson sub-machine guns from the United States until the Sten was introduced the Italians entered the war with a superb sub-machine gun, this was the Beretta Model 38.) On the 24th March, attacks were mounted against the Sanchil in order to draw the Italians attention away from the Dongolaas Gorge, this enabled the West Yorkshires to take their assigned hill unopposed but the 3/5th Mahratta met with stiff resistance from well dug in positions, yet by 07.30 hours the British had captured all three hills and the eastern defences of the gorge were silenced. The next day the 2nd Highland Light Infantry and the 4/10th Baluch Regiment on their right moved forward from the cover of the railway tunnel which had been previously cleared by the sappers and miners up the gorge. At 100-gun barrage was now raining shells on the Sanchil to prevent any fire coming from it towards the gorge. The 3/2nd Punjab Regiment then came forward, moving up between the Baluchis and the West Yorkshire to clear the gorge by 05.30 most of their objectives had been achieved abnd the Italians no longer hold any positions from which they could fire into the gorge. By the following day, the British engineers had finally blasted the roadblock in the Dongolaas Gorge; tanks could now be brought up. The British guns now turned their attention to Zeban and Fallstoh. The 29th Brigade now launched their attacks but on gaining the Italian positions, they found them abandoned. The Italian position was now untenable and they had no choice to retreat to Asmara, harried all the way by the RAF. The Italians… “…were so exhausted and dispirited that sometimes they did not even more off the roads when strafed.” (South African pilot) The fighting at Karen was over; it had been a tough ,soldier’s, battle that dispelled the myth of the Italians being comic opera soldiers. “Karen was hard a soldier’s battle as was ever fought, and let it be said that nowhere in the war did the Germans fight more stubbornly than those (,Italian,) Savoia battalions, Alpini. Bersaglieri and Grenadiers. In the (first) five days ‘fight,’ the Italians suffered nearly 5,000 casualties – 1,135 of them killed. (Lorenzilil,) the gallant young Italian genera, had his head blown off by one of the British guns. He had been a great leader of Eritrean troops. The unfortunate licence of wartime propaganda allowed the British press to represent the Italians as comic warriors; but except for the German parachute division in Italy and the Japanese in Burma no enemy with whom British and Indian troops’ were matched put up a finer fight than those Savoia battalions at Karen. Moreover, the colonial troops, until they cracked at the very end, fought with valour and resolution, and their staunches was a testimony to the excellence of the Italian administration abd military training in Eritrea.” (Compton Mackenzie in the Eritrean Epic.) Casualties had been high on both sides, the British abnd Commonwealth forces had suffered over 4,000 killed, wounded and missing, whilst the Italians suffered 3,000 killed and 4,500 wounded and many more take and many more taken prisoner. Though there was still more fighting laying ahead the defeated at Karen broke the back of the Italian resistance. (A cemetery shows the real price of war, the human cost. This one is for British and Commonwealth dead killed in the battle of Karen, The fighting here was heavy and casualties on both sides high. The cemetery lies 1.2 miles {2 kilometres} from the town of Karen in Eritrea.) (Italian Alpini soldier. The disasters suffered by the Italian army in Greece and North Africa had led to the Italians gaining a bad reputation, being far too ready to surrender. However, Italy’s defeats were more down to lack of proper modern equipment and good leadership rather than to lack of courage. On occasion, when the Italian was well lead he proved himself to be as brave as any German or Allied soldier, nowhere was this more evident than in Italian East Africa where the fighting was bitter and costly to both sides. The Italian troops in East Africa were blessed with a number of outstanding commanders who inspired confidence in their men, men such as Luigi Frusci, the Duke of Aosta and Guglielmo Nasi.) Asmara. The 5th Indian Division now set off after the retreating Italians and for the Eritrean capital of Asmara, which lay 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the south. The Italians fought a number of delaying actions yet they made no major stand; they formed a new defensive position at Ad Teclesan in a narrow valley. The 80th Colonial Division was brought up from Gondar along with the two remaining battalion of Savoia grenadiers from Addis Abada; however their morale was low after their defeat at Karen and they put up little resistance when the British attack metalized on the 31st March. The British troops entered Asmara on the 1st April 1941 after the capital had been declared an open city, the honour of capturing the place fell to the 5th Indian Division whom took 5,000 prisoners and captured the entire reserve equipment for the whole of Italian East Africa which included 1,500,000 shells and up to 3000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. Platte now wired the British command in Khartoum that he was in the Eritrean capital; pointing out that the message was “Not, repeat NOT, an April fool.” Three days after the fall of Asmara the British and Commonwealth forces set of for Massawa 50 miles (80 Kilometres) away on the coast. Massawa. Rear-Admiral Mario Bonnetti who was appointed to command the defensive of the port had his disposal 1,000 veterans of Karen; it seemed that another bloody battle was in the offering. Out at sea things went better for the Italians. On the 20th February 1941, the Italian armed-merchant ,Ramb I ,(3,667 tons) tried to slip out of the port. The vessel along with its sister was an auxiliary cruiser or merchant raiders and were armed with four 120-mm guns and a collection of 13.2 anti-aircraft guns. Another armed cruiser was the ,Eritrea, ,that was slower than both the Ramb ships and slimily armed. The ,Ramb I ,fell foul to the New Zealand Cruiser HMNZS ,Leander ,off the Maldives and sent to the bottom, though the ,Ramb II ,and the ,Eritrea ,successfully evaded the British and reached Kobe in Japan. All four of the remaining Italian submarines also escaped, arriving at Bordeaux on the 7th and 20th May. In Massawa, however the anticipated bloody battle did not materialise, the defenders lacking fuel, ammunition and food crumpled after some strong opposition in which the Indian infantry broke through the outer defences of the city and encircled its landward sides whilst RAF bombers attacked the Italian artillery positions. The Italian surrender followed on the 8th April, netting the British 9,500 prisoners. In the three month, drive through Eritrea the British and Commonwealth forces had captured 40,000 prisoners and 400 guns. Of the remaining seven Italian destroyers in the one, one suffered engine trouble and was scuttled, the remaining six were ordered to attack the fuel tanks at Port Sudan. Two of these were sunk by Fairy Swordfish of the Royal Fleet Air Arm and from the carrier ,Eagle (,21,850.) Two more, ,were damaged and one scuttled off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The motorboat MAS-213 had some success when it torpedoed and damaged the cruiser Capetown (4’180 tons) that had been escorting a convoy of Massawa. (The Italian merchant cruiser ,Ramb I ,sinks of the Maldives, 27th February 1941) Before giving up the port, the Italians scuttled more than a score of ships. The remaining Italian position at Assab hold out for several weeks after the fall of Massawa. The 16th March 1941 saw the launch of operation Appearance, two battalions of the Indian Army coming from Aden and one Somali commando unit were landed on both sides of Berbera by ships of Force D, these being the cruisers, HMS, Glasgow ,(9’100 tons) and HMS ,Caledon ,(4,190 tons) along with the destroyers HMS, Kandahar ,and HMS ,Kipling,, the auxiliary cruisers HMIS ,Chakdina and HMIS Chantal, ,the trawlers HMIS ,Netevati ,and HMIS ,Parvati, ,two transports and the motor launch 109. Two Sikh battalions, whom had been evacuated from the British Somalia back in August 1940, made the landings, which were the First Allied landings on an enemy hold beach in World War Two. As the Sikhs came ashore the Italian colonel in command of the defending garrison who was suffering from Malaria along with half of his force met them with 60 men, the entire Berbera garrison had been low on food and water for weeks. The Italians stood in formation and waited to surrender. “,War can be very embarrassing,” ,a British officer later wrote. Hargesia was captured on the 20th March after that, for the next few months the British and Commonwealth troops occupied themselves clearing the colony from the lack of its former invaders. The Somaliland Camel Corps was reformed which was soon at work looking for Italians and dealing with bandits. Now the colony was back in British hands, they could turn their attention to Ethiopia, crossing the border and linking up with Cunningham‘s force in late March around Harar and Diredawa. But sporadic resistance continued as guerrilla bands began to appear in East Africa forcing the British to deploy aircraft and tanks that were badly needed on other fronts, some holding out until the summer of 1942. One of the last three Italians guerrillas to lay down his arms was Corrado Turchetti who wrote in his memoirs that some of the guerrillas continued to resist until October 1943, a number of Eritreans and even some Ethiopians helped the Italian guerrillas but after the Axis defeat at El Alamein their numbers dwindled. Two of the most noteworthy successes of the guerrillas was the blowing up an ammunition depot in Massawa in January 1942 by Francesco De Martini (Awarded Italy’s highest award for gallantry, the Gold Medal for Military Valour). De Martini also organized a group of small boats, manned by Eritrean sailors who kept watch on the movement of British ships and informed Rome of their location and headings with his radio. Like in the Boar of at the turn of the century, the British resorted to concentration camps,(Not to be confused with extermination camps) it was decided to detain the majority of the Italian coastal population in Somalia in camps, in order, it was claimed to avoid possible contact with Japanese submarines. Another British depot was exploded in Addis Abada by Rosa Dainelli, she had been a doctor before the war, her demolition destroyed ammunition destined for the British Sten sub-machine gun; delaying its entry into into service. She earned fame for being one of the few Italian women to actively take part in armed opposition to the British take-over pf Italian East Africa. Back in January 1941 Cunningham led his first attacks across the Kenyan border into Abyssinia, (During WW2 Abyssinia officially Ethiopia) he knew that the wet season was fast approaching yet he was hoping that he could get the Abyssinians to raise up in open revolt against the Italians; it was hoped that this would pin the Italian forces down and prevent them from sending reinforcements to oppose the main invasion when that started in Jubaland. At the start things went well for the British and Commonwealth forces, they captured El Yibo on the 18th January 1941, and on the 19th, the South Africans captured Jumbo, on the 24th, and the 25th (Breda M37. Unlike the troublesome Breda 30 the Breda M37 was far more effective and gave the Italians good support in the defensive role.) Cunningham’s men were fighting on the Turbi Road however his hopes that the Abyssinians would raise up were not realised. In mid-February the anticipated rains came, grinding the southern attack force to a halt but only after it had captured Gorai, El Gumu, Hobok and Banno and reached the Yavello Road. The South Africans then launched a two-pronged flanking movement towards Mega in which temperatures dropped to near freezing and the South Africans suffered cases of exposure however, after a three-day battle; they took the town on the 18th February. 70 miles (112 kilometres) southwest of Mega, on the Kenyan border, the town of Moyale was captured by a patrol of Abyssinian irregular troops whom had been attached to the South African Division. Back on the 24th February 1941, Cunningham’s main force crossed the border into Italian Somaliland, the 11th, South African Division and the 12th African Division attacked from Kenya, yet the Italians had already decided that the plains of Italian Somaliand culd not be defended in the teeth of superior British armour and aircraft. Most of the Italian and Askari forces were already being woithdrawn to the mountains of Ethiopia as a result Cunningham’s men encountered few Italians east of the Juba River. However, as the South Africans and Africans tried to cross the Juba River they met with unexpected resistance as the crossing sights were defended by six companies of native levies. Cunningham launched operation Canvas with four brigades, the men taking part were told to expect little resistance and for once, the information was right, as little resistance was indeed all that was encountered. The Italian main position located at Jelib to the Kismayu was attacked from both sides. The Italians were defeated with the loss of 30,000 men in dead, wounded and captured o dispersed into the bush. All through this the Italian aircraft, which most consisted of obsolete types apart from a few of the excellent Savoia-Marchetti SM79s took no part in the fighting having been roughly handled by the South African fighters. (The very effective Mills bomb grenade. Pictured from left to right are No 5, 23 and 36 variants.) Cunningham was now to advance on Mogadishu, 200 miles (321 Kilometres) away, virtually unopposed, which was captured by the 11th Motorised Nigerian Brigade on the 11th African Division on the 25th February 1941. By the beginning of March most of Italian Somaliland was in British hands, the fall of the province was followed by an advance into Ethiopia and the capture of Addis Ababa on the 6th April. Cunningham’s forces had advanced 1,725 miles (2,776 kilometres) from Kenya to reach the Ethiopian capital. On the 5th May, Emperor Haile Selassie formally entered Addis Ababa, five years to the day since the Italians had captured his capital. Back in January 1941 Cunningham led his first attacks across the Kenyan border into Abyssinia, (During WW2 Abyssinia officially Ethiopia) he knew that the wet season was fast approaching yet he was hoping that he could get the Abyssinians to raise up in open revolt against the Italians; it was hoped that this would pin the Italian forces down and prevent them from sending reinforcements to oppose the main invasion when that started in Jubaland. At the start things went well for the British and Commonwealth forces, they captured El Yibo on the 18th January 1941, and on the 19th, the South Africans captured Jumbo, on the 24th, and the 25th Cunningham’s men were fighting on the Turbi Road however his hopes that the Abyssinians would raise up were not realised. In mid-February the anticipated rains came, grinding the southern attack force to a halt but only after it had captured Gorai, El Gumu, Hobok and Banno and reached the Yavello Road. The South Africans then launched a two-pronged flanking movement towards Mega in which temperatures dropped to near freezing and the South Africans suffered cases of exposure however, after a three-day battle; they took the town on the 18th February. 70 miles (112 kilometers) southwest of Mega, on the Kenyan border, the town of Moyale was captured by a patrol of Abyssinian irregular troops whom had been attached to the South African Division. (One of the best light Machine-guns of World War 2 was the British Bren. It was actually an adoption and improvement of a Czechoslovak design, the ZB vz 26 (Pictured below) and the name Bren comes from Brno where the zbrojovka armaments factory is and Enfield in England where the Bren was first manufactured. Back on the 24th February 1941, Cunningham’s main force crossed the border into Italian Somaliland, the 11th, South African Division and the 12th African Division attacked from Kenya, yet the Italians had already decided that the plains of Italian Somaliland could not be defended in the teeth of superior British armour and aircraft. Most of the Italian and Askari forces were already being withdrawn to the mountains of Ethiopia as a result Cunningham’s men encountered few Italians east of the Juba River. However, as the South Africans and Africans tried to cross the Juba River they met with unexpected resistance as the crossing sights were defended by six companies of native levies. Cunningham launched operation Canvas with four brigades, the men taking part were told to expect little resistance and for once, the information was right, as little resistance was indeed all that was encountered. The Italian main position located at Jelib to the Kismayu was attacked from both sides. The Italians were defeated with the loss of 30,000 men in dead, wounded and captured o dispersed into the bush. All through this the Italian aircraft, which most consisted of obsolete types apart from a few of the excellent Savoia-Marchetti SM79s took no part in the fighting having been roughly handled by the South African fighters. Cunningham was now to advance on Mogadishu, 200 miles (321 Kilometres) away, virtually unopposed, which was captured by the 11th Motorised Nigerian Brigade on the 11th African Division on the 25th February 1941. By the beginning of March most of Italian Somaliland was in British hands, the fall of the province was followed by an advance into Ethiopia and the capture of Addis Ababa on the 6th April. Cunningham’s forces had advanced 1,725 miles (2,776 kilometers) from Kenya to reach the Ethiopian capital. On the 5th May, Emperor Haile Selassie formally entered Addis Ababa, five years to the day since the Italians had captured his capital. (The Savoia-Marchetti SM 79. The SM 79, Sparviero, or Sparrowhawk or in English, was a superb all round bomber and one of the few modern types at the disposal of the Italians in East Africa. The problem for the Italians was twofold; first, the difficulty in supplying spare parts to a colony that was surrounded on three sides by British territory and on the fourth by a Royal Navy dominated Indian Ocean, second problem was simply that there were too few of them. The SM 79 would be responsible to sinking 700,000 tons of Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. These machines are from the 193ª Squadriglia (193th Squadrilla), 87º Gruppo (87th Group), 30º Stormo (30th Wing). (Another view of the SM 79, though the aircraft excelled as a torpedo-bomber she also served well as a medium bomber and in this role the Sparrowhawk was mostly used in Italian East Africa.) The Battle of Amba Alagi. The Duke of Aosta had chosen to make his headquarters on the high mountains stronghold of Amba Alagi, earlier he had wired Mussolini. “,It only remains for us to resist whenever we can and for as long as we can.” ,The Duce replied. ,“Resist to the last minute of human endurance.” The fortress of Amba Alagi was 11,000 feet above sea level; it commanded several lower hills and a narrow hairpin road known as the Toselli Pass. The Duke of Aosta had at his disposal 5,000 men, yet many of them were not proper soldiers, being airmen; sailors and policemen with little combat experience, most of his Askaris had fled. “The Eritreans are tired. They have been raging war for six years nonstop and have had enough. They have gone home.” (The Duke of Aosta) General Platte gave the newly promoted Major-General Mosley Mayne (1889 -1955) of the Indian, 5th Infantry Division the task of taking the fortress. Mayne believed that the Italians were spread too thin by stretching them thinner he hoped to create a weak spot and exploit it. The British troops started the attack on the 4th and 5th May supported by massed artillery fire, they captured three of the Italian positions to the west of Amba Alagi. Three days later, they managed to capture another two hills to the south and followed this up by taking another hill east of the Duke’s position. The Duke of Aosta was now surrounded yet in spite of constant bombing and shelling he refused to surrender. (The standard Italian grenade was the OTO Mod 35——’To use, the pull tab with the attached safety strip is withdrawn, just prior to throwing, unlocking the safety lever. When thrown the lever was to catch the air and be pulled from the grenade, removing the safety bar from between the firing pin and the primer.This was an open terrain grenade, as some amount of time and distance was required to allow the mechanism to function properly, which it had a tendency not to do.’——Wikipedia) “Constant firing all day long. We spend the day jumping from one rock to another, belly to the ground, with grenades splinters coming from all sides volleys from machine-guns that hit the rocks behind us, splattering us with pieces of stone.. We are covered with dust and dirt from the explosions.” (The Duke of Aosta) On the 12th May, Brigadier Dan Pienaar’s (27th August 1898 – 19th December 1942) arrived with the 1st South African Brigade. Facing the Italians were now 20,000 Ethiopians irregulars and 9,000 British and South African troops but the Italians resisted fiercely. “Every three minutes. A plane dives on us, shooting with its front machine-guns, then drops stick bombs on us and finally gives us another firing from the rear gun. The noise was unbearable I wish this diary could have a sound track.” (The Duke of Aosta.) (Italian poster calling for revenge against the British for their takeover of Italian East Africa. ) A finale attack was planned but a lucky hit from the British artillery hit the Italian fuel dump sending the oil streaming into the defenders last remaining drinking water, this compelled the Italians to surrender. The Italians were allowed to march out in full order with their colours flying, in exchange for the Duke of Aosta pointing out all the mines and booby-traps. “The Duke of Aosta was delighted with my concession and, as he told me, gave a rigid and unmistakable edit that the handover was to be complete and clean, making it quite clear that any breach of his orders would mean that he had broken his word. So the Italians did play up. We got everything intact and no one, save Abyssinian patriots who broke all bounds in their search for loot and deserved their fate, suffered so much as a scratch from a hidden mine, although there were plenty of them about.” (Major-General Mosely Mayne) The Duke of Aosta had suffered with malaria for the last month of the fighting; he would later succumb to the disease and Tuberculosis in a British POW camp. In spite of the surrender of the Duke, some Italian units continued to fight on, the port of Assab and the mountain strongholds of Gondar and Jimma remained in Italian hands. (This map clearly shows the difficulty of the terrain facing the British around Amba Alagi) Italian General Pieto Gazzera (11th December 1879 – 30th 1953) had been faced with growing irregular patriot forces even before Cunningham moved against him. He was cut off however by the Belgian General Auguste-Eduard Gillaert. (7th March 1894 -10th May 1973) On the 3rd of July where he surrendered himself and the last of his 7,000 men. On the 10th June, however on the 13th, the Indian trawler, the HMIS ,Parvati ,struck a magnetic mine and sank, becoming the last maritime casualty of the campaign. General Guglielmo Nasi in command of the remaining Italian forces at Gondar where he hold out for almost seven months until he finally surrendered his last 23,500 men on the 27th November 1941. The British, impressed by his stand, accorded him full, military honours In the air the Italian pilots battled on until the last, flying mostly obsolete aircraft and heavily outnumbered they bravely went up time and time again, on the 24th October 1941, the last Italian aircraft in East Africa was shot down. The campaign was over, however the Italians had fought with great courage and determination, in some of the battles, especially at Karen, proving that well led the Italian soldier could be a very formidable foe. (After a gallant defence, at Amba Alagi and again at Gondar, the surrendering Italian troops are formally saluted by the British and allowed to march of their positions carrying their arms before going into captivity ) (General Alan Cunningham, overall all commander of the British and Commonwealth forces in Italian East Africa Campaign) SOURCES. Books. 1) World War II. Italy at War. Time Life series. By henry Adams. Time Life. Web.- 1) Fiat Ansaldo M 11/39. ,www.44.com 2) Galeazzo Ciano. Wikipedia. 3) Aviation, the first 100 years. Caproni Ca 133. ,www.pilotfriend.com 4) ,www.airforce-art.com 5) East African Campaign, 1940 -41. ,East African Campaign, 1940-41 6) Universal Carrier. Wikipedia. 7) Surviving shellfire in the Battle of Karen. ,Heavy civilian casualties as the Allies bomb Paris,st-February-1941-surviving- 8) shellfire-in-the-battle-for-Karen 9) Ourstory.infro/library/4-ww2/ball.fireTC.html#TC 10) ,Cemetery,. 11) Iron Legions. ,http://Ironlegion.weebly.com 12) Wings Palette. 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Ever been on holiday to Sri Lanka? What cities or places do you recommend?

I live on the outskirts of Colombo and have been to every corner of Sri Lanka, so I believe I should be able to give you a pretty good idea of places to visit. Yes Galle and Kandy are great cities to visit. Galle is located in the south and is an ocean bordering city, it's a good place to visit if you are looking to completely relax by the beach, visit the old Dutch Fort in Galle, walk around and mix in with the locals in the city center and so on. Don't forget to look for and explore the many hidden secrets of this old city that has lots of history. You will find that The Lacemakers of Galle will totally show you something that you never knew existed with their version of lacemaking, these are arts and crafts left behind by the Portuguese and Dutch. You would also find the fine craft of mask making being carried out in Ambalangoda which is about 40 km north of Galle, the craftsman use really soft wood called Kaduru, traditionally these very colorful masks were all stained and dyed with completely natural pigments from trees and minerals etc but now it's mainly modern lacquers being used. There are however a few old craftsman who still make masks the traditional old way and would be an absolute treat for you to experience how it's done. Galle's location allows for a quick run to the game reserves in the region too, you may like to visit Bundala, Yala and Kumana national parks if you are the nature lover, Sri Lanka has quite a lot of wildlife unique to the country. While in Galle, you may also like to do some whale watching off the coast of Mirissa, one of the best locations in the world to watch whales which is located about 40 km further south of Galle and a little before the city of Matara. As for Kandy which is located in the central region of the country is much different to Galle, it generally much cooler there at 515 meters above sea level (about 1,700 feet). Kandy was once the capital of the country. Its uniques and is very different, you may like to visit the Temple of the Tooth where it is believed to house one of the tooth relics of the Lord Buddha, Dalada as it is known is one of Buddhists holiest of temples and is well worth a visit, please note that visitors are expected to be dressed decently and not in shorts or revealing dresses etc, this would also be the norm when visiting all other holy places in the country, be it Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic, Churches are a little less strict about dress code no doubt but yet a word of caution, it's always best to respect all religious groups equally. When either visiting Kandy or leaving it, do visit the botanical garden in Peradeniya, its one of the best in the region. Not too from Kandy is the city of Nuwara Eliya known as little England, it's nice and cool climate will be a nice break after visiting other coastal areas no doubt. Nuwara Eliya region is where some of the finest tea in the world is manufactured. If you are a tea drinker it would be a crime not to see how tea is processed from plucking to fermentation and drying, blending and finally packing, still carried out in most factories in the age old style that the British introduced more than a century ago when we were known as Ceylon back then, hence the label "Pure Ceylon Tea" was born to the world. If someone told you Colombo is not worth visiting, then something must surely be wrong with them, it's a must visit place if you do come to Sri Lanka, packed with several hundreds of places to visit. Colombo in general is a really nice city and its pretty clean too compared to many other capital cities in our region. The entire ethnic mix of Sri Lanka can be seen in Colombo, most of the best restaurants and fine dining are located in Colombo, it's an old city and that's noticeable with some of the road layouts and buildings in general, you would see an entire mix of quite modern buildings to old all lined up down the same street. One thing you would also notice is that most every type of business is located right by the side of the road, and that is one of the prime causes of traffic congestion in the city. The city does get crowded at times in some areas with nightmarish traffic during morning rush hour between 6:15 am to about 8:30 am and again the school traffic rush between 12:00 noon to about 2:30 pm and in the evenings and again when the office crowds start getting back home from around 4:45 pm to about 7:30 pm. In-between those times it's perfect to get around and do your exploring around, shopping and whatever else you feel up to. Colombo has several shopping malls where you can buy good quality clothes at a fraction of the price you'd spend back at home as we are one of the world's top clothing manufacturers. Bambalapitiya (Colombo 4), Kollupitiya (Colombo 3) and most all along Duplication road (Colombo 3 to 4) have several good clothing boutiques you could buy clothes from, plus the ever famous Odel located at Town Hall area in Colombo 7, they have shops in several locations too on the outskirts of Colombo. One word of caution though, when shopping from any shop, please fit on and try everything as top designer labels here are most likely rejects with minute defects, some hardly noticeable while some perhaps only after a wash, so it's a bit of a gamble of sorts but then the prices are very low, well patience is the name of the game, take your time when selecting, dont ever let the salesperson dictate terms to you. If you want a more "get down to the souk" type of shopping experience, you then must go to Pettah. The Pettah region which is an ancient old crowded port city has some level of zoning, you would find clothing in one area or on designated streets, electronics down a few streets, general merchandise on others. Gold, gems and jewelry on famous Sea street are generally genuine and good quality. Word of caution though on everything else, ensure you examine whatever you buy in Pettah. While in Pettah, never take your eye off your personal belongings as they can very easily be grabbed in a second or two and you will never set eye on it again, not that this is a common thing that occurs all the time but it does happen. I've been to the area over a hundred times and have not lost a single thing but have heard that some have in fact lost valuables left on a counter tops etc just for a few seconds while searching for something else, it would be a good idea to dress light and carry very little when you go to Pettah as it is crowded, expect to walk a lot and bump into Natambis who rush around carrying really heavy goods on their heads and sometime stacked skyscraper high on trolleys, they usually shout out "side side side" so make sure you step out of their way or risk not only being knocked off your feet but told of in style too. Try not to get lost down the dozens of crisscrossing streets that look very much alike. Best avoid Pettah on Fridays as it is a Muslim dominated trade area and most shops do close most of the time on Fridays. There are several other places in Colombo which has dozens of unique places to visit as well as this city is certainly one that's painted vibrantly with ancient history, everything from museums to ancient old buildings, temples, kovils and mosques, you name it its all there just a stone's throw away from each other. When you visit Sri Lanka, the key is turn totally into relaxed mode and take it really easy, we Sri Lankan's are generally a laid back type of people, nothing really bothers us that much. Talk about time management here? almost not heard of, most would just look at you with a cheeky glint in their eyes sort of silently saying "I'm gonna get you with that". If someone tells you that they would see you at 10 am sharp, it's most likely that it would turn out to be at least 10:30 am, so get used to it, we are in no rush to get stuff done in general, other than when we are stuck in traffic jams, we surprisingly start to panic, that's when the real Sri Lankaness comes out I guess, you definitely could see middle fingers, horns blaring and perhaps people getting out of their cars waving a fist right in your face telling you how to aught to drive and so on. Just a little out of the capital city lies the administrative capital of Sri Jayawardenepura, you will see nice wide open spaces with bodies of water scattered around with nice public walkways and places to just sit around and relax. One place worth visiting on Thursdays is Water's Edge Good Market, you would find a very nice mixed bag of Sri Lankans and foreign expats all mixing at this interesting venue which is essentially little market place where you can indulge in some nice street food, and buy any number of various other stuff being sold there. Getting away from Colombo to the more rural or farming areas, you would find that it's very calm and quiet to the level that it's addictive. I know several foreign nationals who have fallen in love with our simple calm lifestyle and have decided to live the rest of their lives here. If I were to touch on other cities this would go on forever as we are one unique country to visit, let me just throw in a few more names of some of the cities you really should touch on. Trincomalee - beautiful Beaches and several places to visit, Arugam Bay - Sun and Surf, Mahiyangana - the ancient people of Sri Lanka (The Vedda Community), Horton Plains, Biodiversity at its best, Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa - The Cultural Triangle, this is where our 2500 years History lies basically, Kalpitiya, Wilpattu National Park, Mannar and Jaffna, all places to see and experience the widest mix of Sri Lanka. Think in terms of minimum two weeks if you are to get even a proper feel of what Sri Lanka has to offer, I suggest you google some of the names on the map and find out for yourself what else is out there, you will be surprised for sure. Please do visit Sri Lanka, not just one or two cities but most of it, enjoy our food and culture and take back a little Sri Lankaness with you.

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