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Timeline of the North African Campaign.


  • 10 June: The Kingdom of Italy declares war upon France and the United Kingdom[1]
  • 14 June: British forces cross from Egypt into Libya and capture Fort Capuzzo[2]
  • 16 June: The first tank battle of the North African Campaign takes place, the "Battle of Girba"[2]
  • 13 September: Italian forces invade Egypt from Libya
  • 16 September: Italian forces establish front east of Sidi Barrani
  • 9 December: British and Indian forces launch Operation Compass with the Battle of Marmarica (Battle of the camps)
  • 9 December: Indian forces capture Nibeiwa with cover from British artillery
  • 9 December: British tanks and Indian troops overrun Tummar West followed by Tummar East
  • 10 December: Indian forces capture Sidi Barrani with support from British artillery
  • 11 December: British armoured forces arrived in Sofafi, but Libyan and Italian divisions had escaped
  • 16 December: Sollum captured by Allies


  • 5 January: Bardia captured by British and Australian force
  • 22 January: Tobruk captured by British and Australian force
  • 30 January: Australians capture Derna, Libya
  • 5 February: Beda Fomm captured by British
  • 6 February;
  • 7 February: what remains of the Italian Tenth Army surrenders
  • 9 February: Churchill orders halt to British and Australian advance at El Agheila to allow withdrawal of troops to defend Greece
  • 14 February: First units of the Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel start to arrive in Libya during Operation Sonnenblume
  • 24 March: Allied forces at El Agheila defeated; Erwin Rommel starts his advance
  • 4 April: Australian & British forces withdraw from Benghazi; Benghazi captured by Axis
  • 6 April: British 3rd Armored Brigade is captured in Derna
  • 8 April: British, Indian and Australian forces captured at Mechili
  • 10 April: Siege of Tobruk begins with Australian, British and Indian forces defending
  • 15 April: British forces are pushed back to Sollum on Egyptian border with Libya
  • 30 April: Australian forces lose a small part of their positions in Tobruk during the Battle of Salient, roughly a 6th of Tobruk is now held by Germans
  • 3 May: Australian forces counterattack in Tobruk unsuccessfully
  • 15 May: British troops launch Operation Brevity to gain more territory from which to launch Operation Battleaxe later in the year[3]
  • 16 May: Italian forces attack Australian forces in Tobruk forcing them to withdraw[citation needed]
  • 16 May: Operation Brevity called off. Allied forces fall back onto the Halfaya Pass, captured the previous day[4]
  • 26 May: German forces launch Operation Skorpion and move up to Halfaya Pass
  • 27 May: German forces recapture Halfaya Pass; British troops are forced to withdraw[5]
  • 15 June: British and Indian troops launch unsuccessful Operation Battleaxe
  • 5 July: Auchinleck replaces Wavell as C-in-C Middle East Command
  • 15 August: German Panzer Group Afrika activated with Rommel in Command
  • 1 October: 5th Light Division redesignated 21st Panzer Division
  • 18 November: Auchinleck's offensive (Operation Crusader) begins with British, Indian, South African and New Zealander forces
  • 21 November: British armored division defeated at Sidi Rezegh and withdraws
  • 22 November;
    • New Zealand forces attack Bir Ghirba but are unsuccessful
    • Indian forces capture Sidi Omar
  • 23 November: New Zealand forces capitalize on Indian advances to wreck Afrika Korps HQ at Bir el Chleta
  • 23 November:
    • Rommel launches Panzer attacks on the British XXX Corps, but face resistance from SA, NZ and British forces
    • British and NZ forces withdraw towards Bir el Gubi
  • 25 November:
    • Panzer attack on Indian forces at Sidi Omar is repulsed
    • In the second attack in the evening, Indian forces destroy the 5th Panzer Division
  • 26 November: Ritchie replaces Cunningham as commander Eighth Army
  • 27 November: New Zealand troops at Sidi Azeiz defeated by overwhelming advance of Panzers and German infantry
  • 28 November: 15th Panzer despite being outnumbered 2:1 force British tanks to retreat exposing the New Zealand forces at Ed Duda on the Tobruk by-pass
  • 1 December: New Zealand troops in Sidi Rezegh suffer heavy casualties by Panzers
  • 3 December:
    • German infantry suffers heavy defeat at the hand of New Zealand forces on the Bardia road near Menastir
    • German forces suffer losses against Indian forces and forced to withdraw at Capuzzo (Trigh Capuzzo)
  • 4 December:
    • NZ forces repulse German attack on Ed Duda
    • Indian forces face attrition in an uphill attempt to capture Point 174 against entrenched Italian forces without artillery support
  • 7 December: Tobruk siege relieved by 8th Army consisting of British, Indian, New Zealander and South African forces
  • 13 December;
    • 8th Army attacks Gazala line
    • NZ forces stopped at Alem Hamza
    • Indian forces take Point 204
    • Indian infantry face Afrika Korps and against heavy odds destroy 15 of 39 Panzers
  • 14 December: Indian troops repel repeated Panzer attacks on Point 204
  • 15 December: German advance overruns British forces en route to Point 204, but Indian forces at Point 204 hold on
  • 16 December: Rommel facing reduced Panzer numbers orders withdrawal from the Gazala line
  • 24 December: British forces capture Benghazi
  • 25 December: Agedabia reached by the Allies
  • 27 December: Rommel inflicts heavy damage on British armour who have to withdraw allowing Rommel to fall back to El Agheila
  • 31 December: Front lines return to El Agheila


  • 21 January;
    • Rommel's second offensive begins
    • A lone He 111 of the Sonderkommando Blaich successfully bombs the Fort Lamy air field [6]
  • 23 January: Agedabia captured by Axis forces
  • 29 January: Benghazi captured by Axis forces
  • 4 February: Front line established between Gazala and Bir Hakeim
  • 26 May: Axis forces assault the Gazala line, the Battle of Gazala and Battle of Bir Hakeim begins
  • 11 June: Axis forces begin offensive from "the Cauldron" position
  • 13 June: "Black Sunday". Axis inflicts heavy defeat on British armoured divisions
  • 21 June: Tobruk captured by Axis forces
  • 28 June: Mersa Matruh, Egypt, falls to Rommel.
  • 30 June: Axis forces reach El Alamein and attack the Allied defences, the First Battle of El Alamein begins
  • 4 July: First Battle of El Alamein continues as Axis digs in and Eighth Army launch series of attacks
  • 31 July: Auchinleck calls off offensive activities to allow Eighth Army to regroup and resupply
  • 13 August: Alexander and Montgomery take command respectively of Middle East Command and Eighth Army
  • 30 August: Rommel launches unsuccessful Battle of Alam el Halfa
  • 23 October: Montgomery launches Operation Lightfoot starting the Second Battle of El Alamein
  • 5 November: Axis lines at El Alamein broken
  • 8 November: Operation Torch is launched under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied forces land in Morocco and Algeria.
  • 9 November: Sidi Barani captured by Eighth Army
  • 13 November: Tobruk captured by Eighth Army
  • 15 November: British forces capture Derna in Libya.
  • 17 November: First Army (Operation Torch's Eastern Task Force) and Axis meet at Djebel Abiod in Tunisia
  • 20 November: Benghazi captured by Eighth Army
  • 27 November: First Army advance halted between Terbourba and Djedeida, 12 miles from Tunis, by Axis counterattack
  • 10 December: First Army front line pushed back to defensive positions east of Medjez el Bab
  • 12 December: Eighth Army starts an offensive towards Axis forces near El Agheila
  • 22 December: First Army starts three day offensive towards Tebourba which fails
  • 25 December: Sirte captured by Eighth Army


  • 23 January: Tripoli captured by British Eighth Army
  • 30 January: Axis forces capture Faïd pass in central Tunisia
  • 4 February: Axis forces in Libya retreat to Tunisian border south of the Mareth Line
  • 14 February: Axis advance from Faïd to launch Battle of Sidi Bou Zid and enter Sbeitla two days later
  • 19 February: Battle of Kasserine Pass launched by Axis forces
  • 6 March: Axis launch Operation Capri against Eighth Army at Medenine but lose 55 tanks
  • 16 March: Battle of Mareth begins[7]
  • 19 March: Eighth Army launches Operation Pugilist
  • 23 March: U.S. II Corps emerge from Kasserine to match the Axis at Battle of El Guettar. Battle of Mareth ends.[7]
  • 26 March: Eighth Army launch Operation Supercharge II outflanking and making the Axis position at Mareth untenable. Battle of Tebaga Gap takes place.[8]
  • 6 April: Right wing of First Army links with Eighth Army. Battle of Wadi Akarit takes place.
  • 22 April: Allied forces launch Operation Vulcan
  • 6 May: Allied forces launch Operation Strike[9]
  • 7 May: British enter Tunis, Americans enter Bizerte
  • 13 May: Axis Powers surrender in Tunisia.

See also


  1. Playfair v.I, p. 109
  2. 2.0 2.1 Paterson, Ian A.. "History of the British 7th Armoured Division: Engagements - 1940". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2008-01-02. [dead link]
  3. Playfair v. II, pp. 159–160
  4. Playfair v.II, p. 162
  5. Rommel, p. 137
  6. MESSERSCHMITT Bf 108 - 'TAIFUN' accessed: 29 April 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 Playfair, v.IV Map 31
  8. Playfair, v.IV Map 34
  9. Playfair, v.IV Pg 446


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