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11-08-2015, 18:48

The War in Africa

Churchill, far from losing hope, decided to shift the war away from Britain to Africa. He despatched to Egypt what tanks the British army had left, and with them troops from New Zealand, Australia and India. Heavy losses were inflicted on the Italian navy at Taranto and Genoa, while Commonwealth troops advanced on Eritrea and Abyssinia. Graziani's army, which Mussolini had imagined would march victoriously into Cairo, was driven back across the Libyan desert. The British advanced five hundred miles between the end of 1940 and the beginning of 1941, capturing 100,000 prisoners. The Italians had betrayed their weakness, at least in this sector. In London, the British granted asylum to the kings and legitimate governments of Holland, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. In addition, a handful of Frenchmen answered General de Gaulle's call on 1 8 June. Calling themselves the Free French they continued to fight in violation of the armistice. Under the terms of this armistice the Vichy government had been set up as the legitimate government of France. Fleets from Denmark, Norway, Holland, the Dutch East Indies, the Belgian Congo and Equatorial Africa also rallied round de Gaulle and made a significant contribution to British naval power. The British pinned their greatest hopes, however, on American «nd. They received this under the Lend-Lease Bill, one of the most important programmes of the whole war, which Roosevelt passed through Congress in March 1941. Under it, countries fighting lor freedom would receive war materials against a promise of payment at the end of the war. The Americans themsevels formed convoys to escort materials across the Atlantic to the British Isles.