This volume is the fourteenth to be published in the series “Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War.” The story relates to the Western Theatre and is a fitting companion to our earlier publication Campaign in North Africa. It described the fighting with the Italian forces in East Africa. The regions covered are Eritrea and Ethiopia where the two Indian Infantry Divisions, the 4th and the 5th, played a distinguished role. A shattering blow was inflicted on the Italians in East Africa by a giant pincer movement on a large scale, the northern arm of which was formed by British and Indian forces operating from the Sudan and the southern arm by the forces advancing through Kenya. The Indian forces from the north conquered Eritrea and broke the back of Italian resistance in East Africa at Keren; the forces from the south conquered Italian Somaliland and opened Addis Ababa for the return of the Ethiopian Emperor. As the jaws of the pincer closed the army of the Duke of Aosta was pinned between the two forces and he surrendered at Amba Alagi in May 1941. This meant the military and political collapse of Italian East Africa.

The Government of India set up an organisation before the termination of the Second World War to gather material for writing an objective and authentic account of the operations in which the Indian armed forces had participated. This organisation grew into the War Department Historical Section, which on the partition of India in 1947 was designated as the Combined Inter-Services Historical Section, India and Pakistan, and was to work as the joint venture of the two Governments. This organisation was commissioned to produce a history of military operations and organisational activities relating to war. This official history has been planned into three series, viz., the campaigns in the western theatre; the campaigns in the eastern theatre; and the activities pertaining to organisation and administration. The present volume is the last of the series dealing with the Campaigns in the Western Theatre. The material for this volume was initially compiled by Major N.A. Qureshi. More information was subsequently added and the draft of the history prepared by Dr. Dharm Pal, which was revised and rewritten in parts by Dr. K. N. Pandley. All these officers at one

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time or the other belonged to the Historical Section. To them my thanks are due. The maps for this volume as for others were prepared by Shri T. D. Sharma to whom I am grateful. I am also grateful to Shri P. N. Khera for reading the narrative and seeing it through the Press.

The narrative has been read and approved by Prof. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri and Lieut-General S. P. P. Thorat, DSO, both members of the Advisory Committee to whom I am grateful.

In conclusion, IN acknowledge with thanks the unstinting co-operation and encouragement I have received from the Ministries of Defence of India and Pakistan.

Bisheshwar Prasad

New Delhi

March 1963


RHA (AT) Royal Horse Artillery (Animal transport)
RA Royal Artillery
MMG Group Motor Machine-Gun Group or Medium Machine Gun Group
SDF Sudan Defence Force
SR Sudan Regiment
pdrs. pounders