Ethiopia 1940/41

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
Posts: 1992
Joined: 26 Apr 2002 04:01
Location: Michigan, USA

Ethiopia 1940/41

Post by JLEES » 28 Jan 2003 16:06

I understand Mussolini had about 280,000 men (of which 200,000 were native troops) defending Ethiopia during WWII. The British were able to conquer this area with significantly less men. How many men, tanks and planes did they have? What was the ration of forces? I also understand the Italians fought well defending this theater of operations. Did the Italians actually give a good showing of themselves in Ethiopia, or was this British propaganda to make their victory look more spectacular?

User avatar
Lupo Solitario
Posts: 1123
Joined: 21 Mar 2002 18:39
Location: Italy, country of sun, wine and morons

Post by Lupo Solitario » 28 Jan 2003 19:03

Ciao James

I don't remember exactly how much forces brits had in ethiopia campaign (I have to give a look at my records) but you have to consider that:

-italian army was very composite. Apart some old eritrean unit, colonial army had more or less doubled its forces between 1936 and 1940 including a large quantity of ethiopians and mercenaries of scarce loyalty. Equipment and training was of scarce quality too. Either "white" units were of different quality: good the regulars of "Granatieri" division, scarce the mobilized others.
-Italian leadership was not prepared to fight against a regular european army
-overall italian army was unmotorized. Brit had a real advantage in mobility
- in 1940 there were still 100000 ethiopians partisans operating. Italian forces had the costant fear to watch the rears

We can so explain the difference in behavoir of italian forces. Against the extraordinary italian stand at Keren, we have the shameful break in Somalia in the same time and, in general, an entire collection of episodes of different kind.
Anyway it should be reminded that last italian stronghold surrended in November 1941, seven months after the loss of Addis Abeba and the story of italian guerrilia in 1941-43 is largely still to be written


User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15326
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 31 Jan 2003 06:10

General Cunningham had under his command the following units:

11th African Division with 22nd East African Bde, 1st Natal Mounted Rifles and 1st Field Force (On temp loan from 2nd S.African Bde going to Egypt)

12th African Division with 21st East African Bde and 24th Gold Coast Bde.

Ab attempt to add the 25th East African Bde to the OoB was defeated by the geography.

The main air units were 3 Fighter Sqn (Hurricanes & Galdiators), 11Sqn (Fairey Battles) 12Sqn (Ju86) and from June'41 15th Bomber Sqn

As you can see this force wasn't by any means superior in numbers and the diversity of the troops involved on the British side caused its own problems


Return to “Italy under Fascism 1922-1945”