Wednesday, 23 April 2014

WWII: The Middle East 1940 to 1942




Kenyans enlisting in the King's African Rifles.



In a recent post I mentioned my interest in Britain's War with Vichy France and from the interest expressed in comments and +1s received, it seems I am not alone. The vast amount of literature on WWII, whether in the terms of serious history, or wargame publications and supplements, typically concentrates on the major elements; The Eastern Front, The Italian Campaign and Western Europe in '44 -'45, for example. More recently the Pacific Theatre also now appears to be getting the recognition it has largely failed to receive previously too.

Still out in the cold are the smaller campaigns though, such as the East African Campaign fought between June '40 to November '41, the aforementioned Syria-Lebanon Campaign of June 1941 and the Battle of Madagascar (June to November 1942). Even the Balkan and Western Desert campaigns tend to have more interest focused on them once the Germans are involved, rather than when it was the Italians going it alone.

Like many of you I have quite diverse and numerous interests and it is a fact that I may never actually get to game all of them. Nevertheless I do enjoy reading about them and of course blogging about them. So along with all of the other somewhat random topics here, I plan to produce a number of posts about the 'Forgotten Campaigns' of WWII, maybe an army list or two for Chain of Command, or even Bolt Action, time and other interests allowing.    

The Somaliland Camel Corps inflicted significant casualties on invading Italian forces.

I find I tend to work best chronologically, so in tandem with the other sections that come under WWII, I will be going in line with the sequence of events.  The Battle for France will be dealt with first in its own section, before I begin on the East African and Middle East Campaigns' opening shots, with the Italian Invasions of Somaliland, Kenya and Egypt in August. Then I will be switching back to Europe to cover Operation Sea Lion as an actual event for September 1940. After that all the action is almost wholly in the Middle East and East Africa.

I will be concentrating on the land war for the most part, but I have been itching to play 'Bag The Hun' too and the idea of pitching Gladiators and Hurricanes against CR.42s certainly has its appeal, besides the more obvious Spitfire versus Messerschmitt duels over England.

The list of campaigns I intend to cover under this section therefore are;

West Africa 1940.
East Africa 1940 to 1941.
The Balkans 1940 to 1941.
Western Desert Campaign 1940 to 1942.
Syria & Lebanon 1941.
Madagascar 1942.

The main focus of my interest in WWII is the British Army and its immediate opponents, so it is unlikely that I will be putting too much energy into the Greeks, Yugoslavs and other related forces. The tentative cut-off point for this is Operation Torch in November 1942, although at first glance, the U.S. Forces involved are quite interesting in their own right and somewhat different to what most WWII gamers are used to.