officially declared that
Mohammad Mahmoud Pasha (1)
resigned his Cabinet for health reasons on
August 18 1939 but in
fact two important reasons were behind this resignation; the first reason
was the machinations and intrigues of Aly Maher Pasha, the
of the Royal Cabinet, who was not so discretely negotiating with some
politicians, including a few members of the Mahmoud Pasha’s Cabinet,
for the purpose of joining a new Cabinet headed by Aly Maher himself;
the second and more important reason was that the young Monarch sent his
Saeed Zulfikar Pasha, to meet with
Pasha thanking him for all his devotion and services to His Majesty
and reminding him that the time has come to look after his ailing health.
The Prime Minister understood the hint and submitted the resignation
of his Cabinet a day after that meeting. Thus ended the political
life of Mahmoud Pasha ; his health went from bad to worse and he
died on February 1, 1941.
Pasha was intelligent, hard working and patriotic, but nervous and
intolerant of opposition. In 1927 a British observer remarked:
“He is at times
held back by the fact that he does not consider any Egyptian but himself
clever enough to run the Country without the English, and so wants to keep
them here till he has maneuvered himself to the head of affairs”
King Farouk received and accepted his Prime Minister’s
resignation and, on that same date, asked his protégé, Aly
Maher Pasha, to form a new Cabinet!!
days after the formation of the new Cabinet, the German Army invaded
Poland and, as a result of that unprovoked invasion, England
and France declared war against the German Reich, thus starting
the Second World War.
that War and just a few days before it started, Aly Maher Pasha
whose dislike of the British was notorious, included in his new Cabinet
a few members who shared his dislike!! Beside the Premiership he
kept for himself the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs which were,
because of the dark International situation, were the two most important
Portfolios. The new Cabinet also approved the creation of the new
Ministry of Social Affairs that was decided by the previous Cabinet six
days before its resignation.
beginning of the War, the British Government, basing its request on the
provisions of the 1936 Treaty of Alliance between the two Countries,
tried to urge the Cabinet to declare war against Germany, but that request
fell on deaf ears and the Cabinet maintained Egypt’s neutrality
in that conflict, which aggravated the already existing animosity between
the Cabinet and the British Authorities!!
Cabinet declared itself a “WAR CABINET” and, as such, approved the
formation of an army reserve contingent (AL-GUEISH AL MORABET) composed
of recruits not needed by the standing Army. It was felt that these
reserves would be needed to guard the civilian installations and to alleviate
the hardship that would certainly befall on the civilian population during
the war. To give these recruits a basic military training and the
military command that would be required, the Cabinet agreed to transfer
a few officers from the active troops to the newly formed reserve.
It was also decided that the service in this reserve formations would not
exceed a period of six months and the Cabinet appointed a civilian, Abdel-Rahman
Azzam Bey (3),
the acting Minister of Religious Affairs (WEZARAT AL AWQAF)
to supervise the training and activities of that new force.
Cabinet discussed during eight of its many meetings the project of electrifying
the Aswan Dam which would help in creating a chemical industry so
badly needed by the Egyptian Agriculture which was then the main source
of economical wealth, and an iron and steel industry. The Cabinet
invited a British Company to study and implement that project as soon and
as fast as possible, but the company declined the offer on the excuse of
the state of war!! In fact both chemicals and iron and steel products
were then imported from
England which kept factories and workers
over there quite happy!!
Cabinet agreed to establish a company for the purpose of publishing and
broadcasting Egyptian news locally and overseas. It also encouraged
the formation of the Lawyers Society which would include all lawyers authorized
to practice law in front of National Courts of Justice.
of the war situation, the Cabinet agreed to postpone the annual leaves
of the Public Service and the amount of six thousand pounds was
added to the National Budget for the purpose of helping the Egyptian students
stranded overseas to safely return home. The Cabinet also agreed
to shrink each Ministry’s budget and to cancel all the amounts allocated
to buy offices’ furniture and carpets.
its position as “WAR CABINET”, A Royal decree was proclaimed on
2, 1939, declaring “MARTIAL LAWS” which was approved by the
House of Deputies with a majority of “YES” with only 13 objections.
As for the Senate, the votes resulted with 68 approvals against
To appease the British, the Cabinet amended the Criminal Law by adding
articles imposing harsh sentences for crimes committed against the safety
of the Country and that of its “ALLIES” (read England).
budget was allocated to reinforce the Armed Forces particularly in its
positions at the Egyptian borders; more patrol cars were bought for the
use of the “FRONTIER CORP” (SILAH AL HOUDOUD) and more reinforcements
were allocated to the “COASTAL GUARDS” (GHAFAR AL SAWAHEL);
an extra 12 military planes were added to the Air Force and
light tanks were purchased for the “Cavalry Corp” (SILAH
all these expenditures, the Cabinet agreed to raise all taxes by one percent
and a permanent Cabinet committee was formed to oversee the protection
of civilians against air raids. Last but not least, the Cabinet formed
another committee headed by the
Minister of Finances for the purpose
of establishing a statistical list of all the strategically needed materials
in all the Governorates; that same committee would keep an eye on prices
and would impose prices control wherever and whenever needed.
interesting to note that the Cabinet went as far as studying the feasibility
of moving no less than about a quarter million city dwellers to
the country side and allocating the daily survival amount of 30 pennies
(MALLIMS) to each immigrant. The project was luckily shelved
when it appeared that the cost would certainly exceed one million and
six hundred thousand pounds!!
before, the failure of the British Government to get the Egyptian Cabinet
to declare war against
Germany caused lots of tension between the
two Countries and that tension extremely intensified after the military
collapse of France which encouraged Italy to join Germany
in its war against the British Empire (4).
(LIBYA), which was then an Italian Colony, shared a long border
with Egypt and constituted an imminent threat against the British
troops in Egypt and particularly the
Suez Canal; which prompted
the Brits to put an immense pressure on King Farouk to fire the
Aly Maher Cabinet and appoint a Cabinet more cooperative with the
Brits. Sir Miles Lampson went as far as threatening the Egyptian
King to confiscate his throne and put him under house arrest!!
He also threatened to repeat what
did, in 1914 at
the beginning of the First World War, by declaring
Egypt a British
Protectorate!! Terrified by the British threats,
invited his Prime Minister
and the heads of the different Egyptian
Political Parties to an urgent meeting at the Royal Palace during which
Aly Maher Pasha presented the resignation of his Cabinet, after
a rule of ten months and seven days, to save his King
(To be continued)
Kamal Karim Katba
El Duce Bennito Mussolini
(left) and Führer Adolf Hitler (right) sent their armies
to North Africa and into Egypt against the British.
Mohamed Mahmoud, four times
Egypt's prime minister, had a legendary firmness by which he formed his
first government in 1928. However, by the time of his last Cabinet in 1939,
Mahmoud's stature had diminished to something much less. Professor Yunan
Labib Rizk traces Mahmoud's political life, from strength to weakness
I am honoured
to convey to Your Majesty that the doctors have ordered total rest for
a period of time. Yet the precarious state of international conditions
imposes upon me continuous effort my health can no longer bear. And therefore,
I have the honour of submitting my resignation to Your Highness and Majesty,
hoping that you are graciously disposed towards accepting it. I will not
forget the signs of sympathy and satisfaction I received from Your Majesty
during the term of my government, nor the manifestations of trust and support.
My heart and tongue will not tire from repeating the most sincere praise
of and affirming the most faithful loyalty to your noble self. I strongly
hope that the country, under the protection of Your Majesty and thanks
to your love of it and your long hours working for its good, will move
forward on the path of advancement and glory.
May God grant
you a long life... etc -- Mohamed Mahmoud
This was the text of the
resignation of Mohamed Mahmoud Pasha's fourth and final government as published
in Al-Ahram 's 14 August 1939 issue. Mohamed Mahmoud had gained renown
for having a "strong hand" during his first government formed in 1928.
The texts' statement about his poor health was not a pretext to save face
as he departed the government; it was true this time. The man lived for
less than 18 months after that, most of which he spent in his sickbed until
passing away on 1 February 1941.
Mahmoud was a unique personality
among Egyptian political figures, and his uniqueness stemmed from a number
of sources. He was born to a family considered political by the understanding
of that age. His father, Mahmoud Pasha Suleiman, was deputy head of the
Law Consultation (Shura) Council and a large agricultural landowner in
Upper Egypt, on Salim bank in Assiut. He inherited 1,600 feddans of land
there, and became the head of the Umma Party when it was formed in 1907.
Following this beginning,
Mohamed Mahmoud earned a distinguished education. While the prominent personalities
of the age usually sent their children to complete their education in French
universities (Sorbonne and Montpellier received the greatest number, particularly
in their law colleges), the most prominent notable of Upper Egypt, Suleiman
Pasha, sent his grandson to Oxford University. There he specialised in
With this social status and
unique education, the young man formed strong relationships with the men
of the British occupation administration in Egypt. He worked as an assistant
to consultants to the English in the ministries of finance and the interior.
He then leaped ahead and became the director of Beheira, but did not succeed
in cooperating with the English officials in the directorate and soon lost
his post. This marked the beginning of his political career.
The 1919 Revolution was the
golden door through which Mohamed Mahmoud entered to form his career. As
most of the leaders of this revolution had come from the leadership of
the Umma Party, which had halted its activities with the start of World
War II, it was natural for the son of the party's president to join them.
This was underlined when Mahmoud was among the three who were exiled in
March 1919 with Saad Zaghloul to Malta, one of the most important causes
of the revolution.
Despite the exile not surpassing
a month, signs of Mohamed Mahmoud's special status began to show in Valleta,
the island's capital. This was aided by the fact that he was the youngest,
for he had only passed the age of 40 by two years while Ismail Sidqi was
two years older than him and Hamad El-Sabil was seven years older. The
age difference between him and Saad Zaghloul was almost 20 years. This
was also aided by the fact that he was the wealthiest and descended from
the most established social standing.
This is perhaps what led
him to some forms of behaviour that were the source of complaints made
by Saad Zaghloul in his memoirs, such as his insistence on sleeping in
a private room, having a special lunch and other daily behaviour stemming
from a sense of distinction. This was exacerbated by his command of English
in contrast to Zaghloul and Sidqi with their French education, and El-Basil,
who belonged to neither English nor French culture. He was their only source
of information to the outside world through his reading of an English-language
newspaper issued in Malta.
The British authorities permitted
the four leaders to travel to Paris after the reconciliation conference
had acknowledged the protectorate over Egypt. This recognition had been
shared by the American President Wilson, whose principle of the right to
self-determination Egyptians had pinned high hopes on. This drove the Wafd
Party to send Mahmoud to the United States of America to work with the
American judge Falk on promoting the Egyptian cause.
The university graduate's
importance was highlighted again when Lord Milner agreed to open the door
to negotiations with the Egyptian delegation, leading the Wafd Party to
summon Mahmoud from America to travel to Paris and participate in the negotiations.
He soon headed the four sent by the delegation to Egypt to discern the
opinion of Egyptians on the British proposals that Saad Zaghloul had decided
to reject through his communications with the delegation's secretary in
Cairo, Abdel-Rahman Bey.
This situation did not please
Mahmoud and his companions, who left Zaghloul's Wafd Party in the first
split in its history. This was the split that paved the way for the subsequent
formation of the Liberal Constitutionalists Party, particularly following
the escalation of the dispute between Zaghloul and Adli Yeken over the
presidency of the delegation negotiating with the English.
Mahmoud remained the strongest
personality in the new party even though he did not assume its presidency
until a late stage (1929). During the period stretching from the issue
of the 1923 constitution and the subsequent elections in which the Wafd
Party secured a crushing victory, on the one hand, and 1939 when he withdrew
from political life for good after having led the government for two terms,
on the other, this Upper Egyptian politician did what no one before him
had done, not even Ismail Sidqi, renowned for his departure from the rules
of the constitutional game.
Mahmoud was the only one
of the old-time Wafd Party men to have sought to take control of the Wafd
Party from within. He grasped the opportunity of Saad Zaghloul's death
in 1927 and the ensuing struggle over the presidency of the Wafd Party,
holding that he was the most deserving of its presidency among the contenders
until Mustafa El-Nahhas won it.
He was the only government
man to have dared to suspend the entire constitution and declare that he
would rule with firmness to put an end to the muddled conditions resulting
from partisan rule. The speeches he gave during this period, which were
later collected in the book "The strong hand", indicate the man's insistence
on overlooking constitutional rule. This is exactly what took place in
1928 and 1929.
This is something the king
did not dare do through his man Ahmed Ziwar (1924-1926). All he did during
the term of Ziwar's governments was to delay elections under the pretext
of making constitutional amendments. Nor did Ismail Sidqi (1930-1934) dare
to do this. His term saw attempts to amend the 1923 constitution, and ended
with its replacement by a new one, but he never suspended the constitution.
During the period prior to
Mohamed Mahmoud undertaking his third government in early 1938, Egypt experienced
a range of administrative interference in elections. The most serious was
that which took place in the 1925 elections when Ismail Sidqi was the minister
of the interior and put all the pressure possible to bring down the Wafd
Party candidates, an attempt that ended in failure. Yet Mahmoud proved
unique again after undertaking the above-mentioned government, for he used
the administration to conduct frank forgery in order to bring down the
Wafd Party nominees. This formed a precedent in the forgery of parliamentary
elections in Egypt, something done by numerous governments since.
In short, Mohamed Mahmoud
Pasha did what no one before him had done. And hence came the name he gave
himself, that he had a "strong hand" seemingly incapable of giving in.
This was in fact true some of the time, but not all of the time.
THE FIRST MISTAKE our friend
fell into was dealing with the rule of King Farouq as though it were an
extension of the rule of his father. He did not sufficiently comprehend
the changes that had taken place on the political map.
Among these changes was the
fact that the palace had grown freer from the control of the high commissioner's
headquarters than before, when the high commissioner had interfered in
all matters large and small and particularly in the relationship between
the wearer of the crown and his government. And thus the Wafd Party's figuring
that the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty would be in its favour was not correct.
Britain's representative in Egypt no longer put his nose into domestic
affairs except but a tad, allowing the young king the opportunity to dismiss
the Wafdist government on 30 December 1937, a dismissal that countered
There was also a change in
the map of relations within Abdine Palace. Farouq was certainly not an
extension of his father's rule, for Fouad was always careful to be the
first and final lord of the palace. When he used one of his men, it was
usually not one with a political character in the palace. He used the royal
minister, Zaki Pasha El-Ibrashi, or Hassan Pasha Nashat, secretary of the
royal court who was promoted to the post of deputy of the Royal Cabinet,
which was not a political post by any means.
It was the opposite case
during the rule of Farouq when Ali Maher undertook leadership of the Royal
Cabinet. He was a politician from the top of his head to the tip of his
toe. It is sufficient that he was the prime minister during the final years
of King Fouad, and that he transferred rule to the Wafd Party following
the re-institution of the 1923 constitution. When Ahmed Hassanein Pasha
undertook the same post, he was in turn a first-class politician. He had
begun work in the diplomatic corps and grown close to the palace after
Fouad chose him as a teacher to the crown prince.
This led to Mohamed Mahmoud's
dealing with Abdine Palace being more complicated than it had been during
the government of the strong hand. Yet Mahmoud did not understand this
well enough when he formed his second government in 1938, after heavy waters
had swept beneath the bridges.
Moreover, the partisan map
was not what it had been in 1928-1929. The Wafd Party was at its strongest
following its success in signing the 1936 Anglo- Egyptian Treaty which
was referred to as a treaty of honour and independence after it had done
away with the foreign capitulations in the famed Montreaux Convention.
Then there were the armed militias of their various colours -- the green
shirts established by the men of Misr Al-Fita and the blue shirts of the
Wafd Party. There was also another large party competing with the Liberal
Constitutionalists for its place, the Saadist Union Party formed by those
who split from the Wafd Party and which included Ahmed Maher and Mahmoud
Fahmi El-Nuqrashi Pasha. In other words, Mahmoud was not playing alone
on the field this time.
It can be said that while
the man with a strong hand had stood as a clear rival to the palace in
his previous experiences, he could not undertake the same role this time.
In fact, Farouq's men, led by Ali Maher, succeeded in using Mahmoud twice.
The first was when they drove him to commit the mistake of openly forging
the elections held in early 1938. It is ironic that when Mahmoud realised
that the Wafd Party had suffered a significant defeat following the results
of Upper Egypt's elections to the point that Makram Ebeid had lost the
district he had always won with the minimum of effort, and that the Liberal
Constitutionalists had gained a major victory, the prime minister thought
that he was to thank for that. He wanted to repeat this game in Lower Egypt,
but the Royal Cabinet, led by Ali Maher, did not permit this. The results
were not as he had wished for, with the Saadist Union Party winning the
most votes and Mustafa El-Nahhas losing his district in Samanud. This proved
that the palace had the upper hand.
The second time was when
the palace intervened in the formation of the government and Mahmoud was
not the only strong figure in it as he had been in the previous government.
It included prominent personalities that were inimical to the Wafd Party,
including three former prime ministers -- Mohamed Mahmoud himself, Ismail
Sidqi and Abdel-Fattah Yehya. It also included three heads of parties,
for in addition to the head of the Liberal Constitutionalists, there was
the head of the Shaab Party loyal to the palace and Hafez Ramadan, the
head of the old Watani Party. Some of the newspapers even described it
as a government of "prominent personalities".
What had taken place in the
political map did not mesh with the personality of Mohamed Mahmoud with
its unilateral nature. This was particularly true after Ali Maher used
the Saadist Union Party's majority in the Council of Representatives, which
was approximately equal to that of the Liberal Constitutionalists, in order
to execute policies desired by the palace and to prevent what the prime
minister wished for from taking place. In the end, this resulted in his
government lasting less than four months. He was forced to submit its resignation
and form his next government following a ministerial crisis that lasted
for three weeks due to a difference over the distribution of ministerial
posts between Mahmoud's men and those of the palace, or, more precisely,
Ali Maher's men.
One again, this government
lasted less than two months when its resignation was submitted on 24 June
of the same year. The man with the strong hand had grown weak and found
no escape from reforming his government, this time bringing in the Saadists.
This led to the formation of his fourth government, the one that saw the
end of the strong hand legend.
THIS END began with the first
moments in which the man commenced consultations for the formation of his
government, a process that did not at all end as he had wished. He had
no choice other than to let go of representatives of small parties such
as the Union Party and the Shaab Party who were able to fulfill his wishes.
He also had to oust Ahmed Lutfi El-Sayed, one of the major leaders of the
Liberal Constitutionalists, to make way for a Saadist minister.
What was worse was that these
latter insisted on a strong presence in the government. It was agreed that
each of the two coalition parties would be represented by five ministerial
posts, and that the two ministries the Saadists would gain would be the
most important following the post of president. The Ministry of Finance
would be undertaken by Ahmed Maher and the Ministry of the Interior would
be undertaken by Mahmoud Fahmi El-Nuqrashi. If we add to that the popularity
enjoyed by these two men, both while they were in the ranks of the Wafd
Party and after they left it, we can appreciate the extent of Mohamed Mahmoud's
loss, after which he could no longer claim being strong.
We can also add to that the
enemy laying in wait for the government in the leadership of the Royal
Cabinet, Ali Maher Pasha, who had ambitions to get rid of Mahmoud Pasha
and take his place. He never tired of planning conspiracies against the
government as long as he was able to. The matter reached the point of his
meeting with Mustafa El-Nahhas in his home in Ramel, Alexandria. While
this meeting did not produce an agreement, the head of the Royal Cabinet
sought to either frighten or incite Mahmoud, as confidential British documents
state. This worried him a great deal.
In the secret battle waged
between the two men revealed by the same documents, Mahmoud was inflicted
with hardship by the head of the Royal Cabinet, naturally with the knowledge
of King Farouq. Among the troubles caused was that which took place during
the days of the formation of the third government, when Ali Maher was determined
to bring in Mohamed Kamel El-Bendari Bey, the minister of health, in the
resigned government. Mahmoud insisted on distancing him, which made it
known that the man transmitted to the palace everything that took place
in the cabinet meetings. Ali Maher was not able to counter this insistence
other than by appointing the rejected minister as undersecretary to the
Royal Cabinet. This surely did not please Mahmoud, especially as Ali Maher
soon found an alternative for transmitting the government's news to him.
This time it was Ahmed Khesheba Pasha, the minister of justice, who threw
obstacles in the way of the smooth running of the government's work.
The worst and last of the
battles, after which Mahmoud could not long bear continuing, was the parliamentary
battle that took place between the councils of the senate and the representatives
during August 1939. This battle was over the budget, for the financial
committee of the senate council opposed annexing a tax on bequests to it.
This was a new battle by
all standards. It was new regarding the dispute between the two councils
over the budget, as it was assumed that after it had been prepared by the
government and passed by the Council of Representative's financial committee,
its approval by the senate council was a given. Yet this did not happen
this time due to the considerable percentage of Wafdists in the "big council"
that had not been touched by forgery since its membership lasted 10 years
rather that the five of the "small council". It was also new because it
was clear that Ali Maher's hand was not far removed from the intimation
to some senators to take an inimical stance towards the government. All
of this took place while the man previously known for his toughness was
not able to effectively participate in the battle due to his health. He
did not even attend the cabinet sessions presided over by Abdel-Fattah
Yehya Pasha, or the sessions of the two council's financial committees
who turned the issue into a raging battle. It seemed as though matters
were slipping out of his hands.
It was under these circumstances
that rumours spread that Mahmoud was on his way toward submitting his government's
resignation, this time out of obligation rather than by choice as had happened
in 1929 when he had done so to make way for a freely elected government.
This government would continue the negotiations that had begun with Mr
Henderson, the British foreign secretary, and which had met with significant
With all of these developments,
it was not out of the ordinary for readers of Al-Ahram 's Sunday 13 August
issue to find the following bold print headline on its first page -- "His
Majesty the King accepts the government's resignation -- Mohamed Mahmoud
Pasha meets with the King -- his discussion with Al-Ahram following the
meeting -- the nominee to form a new government".
Our paper narrated the details
of what took place that day, and mentioned that Mohamed Mahmoud had gone
to the government headquarters in Bolkili, where the last of the cabinet's
meetings was held. The issue of the resignation was discussed and Mohamed
Mahmoud simplified his perspective on the situation. They unanimously agreed
that continuing to work would wear out his health. Then the discussion
turned to the formulation of the resignation letter, which they settled
on in the form published at the beginning of this issue of the Diwan.
After the session closed,
Al-Ahram 's reporter in Alexandria rushed up to Mohamed Mahmoud, who responded
to his question by saying that he still insisted on resigning. As always
occurs on occasions such as this, all the ministers went to their ministries
to collect their private papers and then left after bidding farewell to
their office employees.
At 5.30pm, Mahmoud Pasha
went to Al-Muntazah Palace "where he was greeted by Said Zulfiqar Pasha,
the master of ceremonies." He then had the honour of meeting with the king,
a meeting that lasted from 6.30 to 7.00pm in keeping with custom despite
the feelings of hatred between the two men. The departing prime minister
then paid a visit of protocol to the head of the Royal Cabinet. Also in
keeping with custom, Mohamed Mahmoud Pasha called upon the general-secretary
of the cabinet and requested that he write a letter to each and every minister,
thanking him for his cooperation and support in undertaking the government's
burdens during the time that he had assumed governance.
The Wafdist newspapers bid
Mahmoud farewell with malicious joy, as is always rained down upon those
who fall from their posts. Al-Wafd Al-Masri wrote under the headline
"Fate has struck
and cast the dye and the ministry of Mohamed Mahmoud is a thing of the
that until the day before,
the government's rented papers had said that nothing was going on and that
the government had never been stronger or more fixed on staying put than
it was at that time. Meanwhile, the paper wrote, Alexandria's horizons
were filled with news about the end of the "upright rule" and the resignation
of the prime minister, and those other papers had lied until the last moment
as the government was in fact in its final death throes.
Al-Masri accused those it
called "of the government" of wanting to cover up the catastrophe expected
to befall their government and said that it would not resign except for
the reason of Mahmoud Pasha deciding once and for all that care of his
health must come first.
We agree with the opinion
of this paper, which was the most loyal to the Wafd Party. The situation
was indeed sad when the legend of the "strong hand" ended in a manner
that no one had expected.
Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Middle East History at Pennsylvania State
University. He is (with Lawrence Davidson) the author of A Concise History
of the Middle East, Eighth Edition, and is the author as well of Modern
Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State, Second Edition. He is the recipient
of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle
East Studies Association Mentoring Award. Goldschmidt has been known during
his years at Penn State for having created a series of courses that stimulated
undergraduate interest in Middle Eastern history and culture. Educated
at Colby College and Harvard University, Goldschmidt has held fellowships
from the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Faculty Research
fund, among others. He is author of numerous books and many articles and
essays on Middle Eastern history. He was an elected faculty senator, chaired
its committee on student affairs and served as secretary. He chaired the
Middle East Studies committee for 25 years. He also was instrumental in
helping to devise courses in non-western history and in developing the
successor to those courses for the general education curriculum.
In addition, he is
one of the most respected authorities on Egypt's Modern history.Prof.
is a frequent contributor on the Internet, including the
prestigious and oldest forum: Egypt Net.
meaningful and serious discussions about the History of Modern Egypt,
join Egypt Net group (The oldest continuous Egyptian forum on the
internet since 1985.)
Abd al-Rahman Hassan Azzam(1893–1976)
was an Egyptian diplomat, with family origins in Egypt. He served
as the first secretary-general of the Arab League between 1945
Azzam also had a long
career as an ambassador and parliamentarian. He was an Egyptian nationalist
and one of the foremost proponents of pan-Arab idealism – viewpoints
he did not see as contradictory - and was passionately opposed to the partition
Ancestry: Abd al-Rahman
Azzam's father, Hassan Bey, was born into an Arab family that
rose to prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century in Shubak
al-Gharbi, a village near the city of Helwan, located south
of Cairo. His grandfather, Salim Ali Azzam, was one of the first
Arabs to become director of southern Giza, and his father, Hassan
Salim Azzam, was likewise active in many governing bodies of the region.
mother, Nabiha, was descended from no less distinguished a family.
Her father, Khalaf al-Saudi, was a land proprietor as well as a
shaykh while her mother's family descended from various tribes of
the Arabian Peninsula.
As biographer Ralph Coury
notes, scholars and others have often concluded that Azzam's "Peninsular"
origins explain his later assumption of an Arab identity. As early
as 1923, one British official wrote that "The Azzam family,
though settled in Egypt for some generations, come of good old Arab
stock, and have always clung tenaciously to Arab traditions and ideals
of life," adding that "in estimating Abd al- Rahman's character, his
early up-bringing and his Arab blood must never be forgotten." However,
as Coury has shown, the Azzams were in fact completely assimilated
to village life and did not see themselves as set apart from other Egyptians.
Azzam himself even once asserted that "we were not brought up
with a strong consciousness of Bedouin descent. We were Arabs because we
were 'sons' or 'children' of the Arabs' in contrast to the Turks, but the
term 'Arab' as such was used for the Bedouin and we would not apply
it to one another."
Childhood and EducationAbd
the eighth of twelve children, was born on
March 8, 1893 in Shubak
al-Gharbi. His family were fellahin dhwati ("notable peasants")
whose position was determined by the possession of land, wealth, and political
power. The Azzam household was frequently home to gatherings of
the village elite and was where Azzam developed his interest in
politics at an early age. According to his brother, Abd al-Aziz Azzam,
Azzam was a "born politician" who often would stand at
the top of the stairs as a child and give political speeches to his siblings.
In 1903, the Azzam
moved to Helwan in order to eliminate Hassan Bey's traveling
to and from the city for government meetings. The various effendis that
had been frequent visitors to Shubak were now neighbors of the Azzams,
and the friendship that quickly developed between the effendi children
and Azzam led him to insist on attending secular primary school
(ibtidaiyyah) instead of studying at the Azhar. Azzam
remained in Helwan through secondary school and upon graduating decided
to next study medicine. Of his decision, Azzam
"I wanted to
be active in politics and I thought that I could practice medicine wherever
that struggle might lead." In 1912, Azzam left Egypt
for London where he enrolled in St. Thomas’s Hospital Medical
While in London,
joined the Sphinx Society, a political grouping where
quickly grew to prominence. However, after his first year of study, Azzam
became increasingly concerned with the recent developments in the Balkans
and felt compelled to contribute in some way to the Ottoman cause. Unsure
of how he could personally contribute, Azzam decided to leave London
and head for the Balkans, spending considerable time in Istanbul,
Albania, and Anatolia. Throughout his travels, Azzam made
various connections with like-minded political activists. He also had the
opportunity to meet and talk with many non-Egyptian Arabs.
Once back in Egypt,
was banned by the occupation authorities from returning to England because
of his nationalist activities in both England and Egypt. Instead, arrangements
were made for Azzam to attend the Cairo Medical School of Qasr
al-Ayni. While studying in Cairo, Azzam became greatly disaffected
by the British Occupation which revived his desire to leave the country
and join the Ottomans.
participated in the Libyan resistance against the Italians from
1915-1923. In December 1915, Azzam left Egypt
to join Nuri Bery and a group of Ottoman officers who were leading
a Sanusi army in fighting against the British. After the fighting
ceased and Sayyid Idris and the British signed a peace treaty in
1917, Nuri Bey and Azzam transferred to Tripolitania
where they hoped to build up a centralized authority. On November 18,
1918, leaders met at al-Qasabat and proclaimed the founding
of a Tripolitanian Republic. Following numerous negotiations between the
Italians and Tripolitanian chiefs, on June 1, 1919, the Fundamental
Law of Tripolitania was enacted, granting the natives full Italian
nationality with all civil and political rights pertaining to it. Despite
the agreement, the Italians refused to implement the law which consequently
led to the formation of a National Reform Party. Led by Azzam, this
group was formed in order to pressure the Italians to put the law into
effect. The Italians refused to concede, and in January 1923, Azzam
accompanied Sayyid Idris into exile in Egypt. By 1924,
opposition in Tripolitania had sufficiently waned and the Italians
remained militarily victorious.
Azzam's tenure spent
participating in the Libyan Resistance is credited for his turn to Arabism.
In 1970, Azzam noted: "When I was a boy, I was an Egyptian
Muslim. Being an Egyptian and Muslim didn't change. But from 1919
on, with Syria and Iraq gone, I started talking of Arabism.
Living with the bedouin, etc. worked gradually to make me a supporter for
something Arabic. The Tripolitanian Republic decisively marked the
shift to Arabism."
Wafd Membership: 1923-1932
. Azzam's return to Egypt coincided with the numerous debates
taking place between the Wafd, the Palace, and the British
regarding the new constitution. Hoping to reestablish himself in Egypt,
ran for office in 1924 and was elected to parliament as a member
of the Wafd.] As a parliamentarian, Azzam rose to prominence
through his articulate writings for the party's newspaper.
Due to his time spent in
the Wafd often chose Azzam to represent the party at official
meetings and international conferences. His most important trip made as
an Egyptian-Wafd representative was to the General Islamic Conference
in Jerusalem in 1931. Because members of the Azhar
and Sidqi ministry were strongly opposed to two of the conference's
main agenda items - the idea of creating a new Islamic University
in Jerusalem and restoration of the Caliphate - the Egyptian
government refused to send an official delegate to the meeting. Still,
and several other members of the Egyptian opposition attended the conference.
Azzam took an active role in the proceedings and was elected to
the Executive Committee of the Congress which discussed the question of
Arab nationalism at length. This conference is one of the first instances
in which Arab nationalists included Egypt as part of the Arab nation.
In November 1932, Azzam
made a decisive break along with several other party members from the Wafd.
While some viewed him as a traitor, Azzam maintained that changes
in his own opinions were to blame. By this point, Azzam's reputation
for knowledge of Arab affairs was highly valued and he soon became a member
of the Palace entourage that gathered around King Faruq.
1932-1945 After breaking
with the Wafd, Azzam joined the elite ranks of liberals - all Wafd
Liberal Constitutionalist dissidents - who had supported Liberal
proposals for a coalition government in 1932. In 1936,
Mahir appointed Azzam as Egyptian Minister to Iraq and
Iran, and in 1937, the Nahhas ministry increased
diplomatic role to include that of Egyptian Minister of
Arab League: 1945-1952
In 1945, Azzam was selected to be the first Secretary General
of the Arab League. One of Azzam's first acts as secretary-general
was to condemn anti-Jewish rioting in Egypt of November 2–3, 1945
during which Jewish and other non-Muslim owned shops were destroyed and
the Ashkenazi synagogue in Cairo's Muski quarter was set
On March 2, 1946,
in an address to The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry into the Problems
of European Jewry and Palestine, Azzam explained the Arab League’s
attitude towards the Palestinian question and rejected the Zionist claim
Our brother has gone to
Europe and to the West [and] come back a Russified Jew, a Polish Jew, a
German Jew, an English Jew. He has come back with a totally different conception
of things. Western and not Eastern… but Jew old cousin, coming back with
imperialistic ideas, with reactionary or revolutionary ideas… he is not
the old cousin and we do not extend to him a very good welcome.
On May 11, 1948 Azzam
warned the Egyptian government that owing to public pressure and strategic
issues it would be difficult for Arab leaders to avoid intervention in
the Palestine War, and that Egypt could find itself isolated if
it did not act in concert with its neighbors.
Azzam believed that
King Abdullah of Jordan had decided to move his forces into
Palestine on 15 May regardless of what the other Arabs did and would
occupy the Arab part of Palestine whilst blaming other Arab states for
King Farouk of Egypt
resolved to contain Abdullah and prevent him from gaining further
influence and power in the Arab arena.
One day after the State of
declared itself as an independent nation (May 14, 1948), Lebanese,
Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, and Transjordanian troops, supported by Saudi
and Yemenite troops, attacked the nascent Jewish state, triggering the
1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Six days later, Azzam
told reporters "We are fighting for an Arab Palestine. Whatever
the outcome the Arabs will stick to their offer of equal citizenship for
Jews in Arab Palestine and let them be as Jewish as they like. In
areas where they predominate they will have complete autonomy."
On 27 August 1948,
in response to charges by Azzam that Palestinians remaining in the
town of Acre were being mistreated the United Nations sent
an observer from France, Lieutenant Petit to investigate.
Petit found that around 80 Palestinians had been killed, mostly for no
reason. One of Petit’s witnesses also reported six cases
of rape. Another, Mohammed Fayez Soufi, reported that he and four
other Arabs had been stopped by a group of 15 Jewish soldiers and
forced to drink poison (an acid of potassium). Soufi did
not drink the poison but fell down to the ground with the other men. Three
the men died. Petit also reported allegations that Arab children
were being kidnapped and killed. There were also allegations that Jews
were using the blood of the children as wine for their feast of Passover,
but these classic blood libels were, of course, false. He was able to verify
allegations that soldiers were looting homes systematically and distributing
the goods to Jewish immigrants.
Views on Arab Unity.
According to historians Israel Gershoni and James Jankowski,
Azzam denied that the Egyptian nation was a continuation of Pharaonic
Egypt. Instead he believed that "modern Egypt had been shaped
primarily by 'Arab religion, customs, language, and culture.'" Accordingly,
he asserted a racial basis for Egyptian identification with the Arabs.
Writings: Vincent Sheean
points out in his introduction to the book The Eternal Message of
Muhammad, (published by Azzam in Arabic in 1938 under
the title The Hero of Heroes or the most Prominent Attribute of the Prophet
Muhammad), "In Damascus as well as in Djakarta, Istanbul
and Baghdad, this man is known for valour of spirit and elevation
of mind... he combines in the best Islamic mode, the aspects of thought
and action, like the Muslim warriors of another time who are typified for
us Westerners by the figure of Saladin." In the book Azzam extols
the Prophet’s virtues of bravery, love, the ability to forgive, and eloquence
in pursuit of the diplomatic resolution of conflict and argues that Islam
is incompatible with racism or fanatical attachment to "tribe, nation,
color, language, or culture".
Malcolm X’s reading
of The Eternal Message of Muhammad and his meeting with Azzam Pasha
are vividly recounted in his autobiography. These events marked the point
in his life at which Malcolm X turned towards orthodox traditional
On 10 June 1940, the
Kingdom of Italy aligned itself with Germany and declared war upon
and the United Kingdom. British forces based in Egypt were
ordered to undertake defensive measures, but to act as non-provocative
as possible. However, on 11 June they began a series of raids
against Italian positions in Libya. In addition there had been a
large Italian community in Cairo prior to the war. Following the
10, 1940 declaration of war, nearly all of the Italian men were arrested
and nearly all Italian property was seized, leaving the women in poverty.
Meanwhile following the defeat
of France on 25 June, Italian forces in Tripolitania,
facing French troops based in Tunisia, redeployed to Cyrenaica
to reinforce the Italian Tenth Army. This, coupled with the steadily
degrading equipment of the British forces led General Archibald Wavell
to order an end to raiding and placed the defense of the Egyptian border
to a small screening force.
El Duce Benito Mussolini
ordered that the Tenth Army was to invade Egypt by 8 August.
Two days later, no invasion having been launched, Mussolini ordered
Graziani that the moment German forces launched Operation Sealion,
he was to attack. On 8 September, Italians, hampered by the lack
of transport and enfeebled by the low level of training among officers
and weakened by the state of its supporting arms, were ordered to invade
Egypt the following day. The battle plan was to advance along the
coastal road while limited armored forces operated on the desert flank.
To counter the Italian advance, Wavell ordered his screening forces
to harass the advancing Italians, falling back towards
where the main British infantry force was based. Positioned on the desert
flank was the 7th Armoured Division, which would strike into the
flank of the Italian force.
By 16 September the
Italian force had advanced to Maktila, around 80 miles (130 km)
west of Mersa Matruh, where they halted due to supply problems Despite
urging for the advance to carry on, Graziani ordered his force
to dig in around Sidi Barrani, and fortified camps were established
in forward locations; additional troops were also positioned behind the
During November General
Richard O'Connor was appointed an acting lieutenant-general in recognition
of the increased size of his command
In response to the dispersed
Italian camps, the British planned a limited five-day attack. The counteroffensive,
Operation Compass, began on 8 December 1940. O'Connor's relatively
small force of 31,000 men,
275 tanks and 120 artillery
pieces, ably supported by an RAF wing and the Royal Navy, broke through
a gap in the Italian defenses at Sidi Barrani
near the coast. The
Desert Force cut a swath through the Italian rear areas, stitching its
way between the desert and the coast, capturing strongpoint after strongpoint
by cutting off and isolating them, The Italian guns proved to be no match
for the heavy British Matilda tanks and their shells bounced off the Armour.
By mid-December the Italians had been pushed completely out of Egypt,
leaving behind 38,000 prisoners and large stores of equipment. The
attack was supported by 25 pounder (11 kg) artillery and Blenheim
bombers and was centered on the advance of Mk.II Matilda tanks.
Within an hour of the onset of combat, Italian GeneralPietro Maletti
would be dead and 4,000 Italian soldiers would surrender. Within
three days, 237 artillery, 73 tanks, and 38,300
soldiers would be captured. The attacking forces would move west along
the Via della Vittoria, through Halfaya Pass, and capture
Fort Capuzzo, Libya.
During January the
fortified towns of Bardia and Tobruk were captured
and the fleeing Italians were cut off at Beda Fomm by the 7th
Armoured Division, who had crossed the western desert. At the Battle
of Beda Fomm the remnants of the Italian army surrendered. Within
ten weeks Allied forces had reached El Agheila and destroyed the
Italian Tenth Army, taking 130,000 prisoners of war.
at the Battle of Beda Fomm
The British would suffer
fatalities and 1,225 wounded. However the advance stopped short
of driving the Italians out of North Africa. As the advance reached
Argheila, Churchill ordered that it be stopped, and troops dispatched
to defend Greece.
A few weeks later the first
troops of the
German Afrika Korps would begin arriving in TripoliOperation
Sunflower (German: Unternehmen Sonnenblume), and the desert war would
take a completely different turn. (To
BIOGRAPHIES OF THE ITALIAN GENERALS
1st Marquess of Neghelli (August 11, 1882 - January 11, 1955), was
an officer in the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) who led military
expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.
In the 1920s, Graziani
the Italian forces in Libya. He was responsible for fighting the Senussi
During this so-called "pacification", he was responsible for the
construction of several concentration camps and labor camps, where tens
of thousands Libyan prisoners died, if not killed directly by hanging,
like Omar Mukhtar, or bullets, then indirectly by starvation or
disease. His deeds earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Fezzan"
among the Arabs.
At the start of World War
II, Graziani was still the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian
Royal Army's General Staff. After the death of Marshal Italo Balbo
in a friendly fire incident on 28 June 1940, Graziani took
his place as the Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and
as the Governor General of Libya.
Initially giving Graziani
a deadline of 8 August, El Duce Benito Mussolini ordered Graziani
invade Egypt with the Tenth Army. Graziani expressed doubts
about the ability of his largely un-mechanized force to defeat the British
and put off the invasion for as long as he could. However, faced with demotion,
ultimately followed orders and elements of the Tenth Army invaded
Egypt on 9 September. The Italians made modest gains into Egypt
and then prepared a series of fortified camps to defend their positions.
In 1941, Graziani resigned his commission after the British counterattacked
and the Tenth Army was completely defeated by them during Operation
Compass. On 25 March 1941, Graziani was replaced by General
ITALO GARIBOLDI (20
April 1879 - 3 February 1970) was a senior officer in the Italian Royal
Army (Regio Esercito) before and during World War II.
In December 1940,
when the British launched Operation Compass, Gariboldi was
in temporary command of the Tenth Army because General Mario
Berti was on sick leave. Ultimately, he was given command of the Tenth
Army after it was virtually destroyed and Berti's replacement,
Giuseppe Tellera was killed in action.
On 25 March 1941,
was promoted to Governor-General of Libya and replaced
Graziani. By 19 July, Gariboldi himself was relieved because
of his alleged lack of cooperation with Rommel.
Bastico took his place.
Rommel with Governor-General Italo Gariboldi (on Rommel's right), Libya
PIETRO MALETTI (24
May 1880 – 9 December 1940) was an Italian military officer who participated
in World War I, the subjugation of Italian North Africa, the Italo-Abyssinian
War, and World War II. He was killed in action during the early stages
of the North Africa Campaign.
In June 1938, Maletti
was promoted to the rank of Major General (Generale di divisione).
In 1939, he was intended to assume command of the 28 Infantry
On 10 June 1940,El
Duce Benito Mussolini declared war on Britain and France. On
June, France fell and signed an armistice. British-occupied Egypt became
the focus of the Italian forces in Libya. Maletti was diverted from
his intended command and returned to North Africa (Africa Settentrionale).
In Libya, he took command of a special ad hoc grouping of motorized infantry
and tanks which was called the "Maletti Group" (Raggruppamento Maletti).
After initially becoming lost whilst making his way to the staging area,
he advanced into Egypt and occupied fortified positions near Sidi
On 9 December 1940,
was killed in action at the fortified Nibeiwa Camp when British
forces counterattacked during the early stages of Operation Compass
ETTORE BASTICO (9
April 1876 – 2 December 1972) was an Italian military officer before
and during World War II. He held high commands during the Second Italo-Abyssinian
War (Ethiopia), the Spanish Civil War, and the North African Campaign.
On 19 July 1941, Bastico
was named commander over all Axis forces in North Africa. In 1942,
he was reduced to the command of troops in Libya. Ugo Cavallero
the commander of all forces further east in North Africa. Despite this,
was promoted to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) on 12
August 1942. However, the loss of Libya left him from 2 February
1943 without a command for the rest of the war.
in Rome after spending his later life studying history.
(12 April 1877 – 1965)
was an Italian military officer who served in both World War I and World
War II. After the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Guzzoni was appointed
as Governor of Eritrea. He served as governor from 1936 to 1937.
In 1939, Guzzoni
had a prominent role in the Italian invasion of Albania and was Commander-in-Chief
there in 1940.
In June 1940, after
Italy entered World War II, Guzzoni commanded the Italian 4th
Army during the invasion of France.
On 29 November 1940,
succeeded Ubaldo Soddu as Under-Secretary of War and Deputy Chief
of the Supreme General Staff.
In 1943, Guzzoni was
General Officer Commanding the 6th Army on Sicily and commander
of the Axis troops on Sicily during the Allied invasion of the island.
(1881 – 1964)
was an Italian officer during World War I and General in the Spanish Civil
War and World War II.
At the beginning of the war
Berti was Chief of Staff in the Italian Army. However Italy's
commitment in Spain had drained it out of resources which made it
not ready to fight against Britain and France. Many Generals
made this clear to Mussolini and Berti was involved. The
outcome of this was a demotion and he was sidelined. He was given the rank
of Commissioner of Libya. He had fallen out of favor with Mussolini
Graziani had taken his place.
His relation with Graziani
was abysmal. After the failures in Egypt, Berti called Graziani
and refused to send him help. During his sick leave with fever Graziani
called him a coward and had him dishonored.
In the summer of 1940,
Francesco Guidi as the commander of the Italian
in Libya. On 9 September 1940, Berti was in command of the
Tenth Army during the Italian invasion of Egypt. Halted at
Sidi Barrani by logistical problems, Berti deployed his advanced
units in a series of fortified strong points. He then began work on extending
the Via Balbia into Egypt. The fortified strong points were
not mutually supporting. Large gaps between them were only covered by motorized
A build-up for a new Italian
offensive further into Egypt was delayed by the Italian invasion
of Greece. The offensive in Egypt was rescheduled and a mid-December
launch was planned. However, prior to this, General Berti went on
sick leave and Italo Gariboldi took his place temporarily.
On 8 December 1940, Berti
was on leave when British General Richard O'Connor launched Operation
Compass. On 14 December, Berti arrived back in North
Africa. The British forces had exploited the gaps between the Italian fortified
camps and in three days were able to overrun them and to capture or destroy
almost all of the Italian defenders. On 11 December, Sidi Barrani
fell. By 16 December, the Italians had been ejected from
On 23 December, Berti
replaced by General Giuseppe Tellera as commander of the Tenth
Army. Tellera was to die in action at Beda Fomm.
On September 8 1943,
Italy sign an armistice with the allies. At that point he retired from
the Army. After the war he was cleared of wrong doing. The post war government
arrested Graziani had asked Berti if he was a criminal. Berti
it clear that Graziani had done no wrong. He lived in the hills
of La Spezia for the rest of his life.
GIUSEPPE TELLERA (March
14, 1882 - February 7, 1941) was a Lt. General in the Italian
Army during the North African Campaign fought against the British and Commonwealth
forces in world war II.
Tellera reviews the Italian Zaptie Meharista corps.
General Tellera took
over command of the Tenth Army at a critical moment. Although the
Italian forces had supremacy in numbers, the Italian army had more tanks
and human resources than the British, it was the quality of the Italian
weapons that was questionable. In addition the troops were almost all infantry,
and poorly motorized ,a real handicap in a war of movement However He was
deeply committed to fight and resist in the strenuous attempt of defending
by the British invasion, leading his soldiers whom he never abandoned
he was hit by a shell splinter, during the battle of Beda Fomm and
passed away in the early morning of February 7, 1941 for the wounds
received. Struck by his heroic resistance, the British army buried him
with military honors. For his gallantry in action Lt.Gen Tellera
was posthumously awarded with the Gold Medal for military valor,
the highest military decoration in the Italian Army. The award citation
read as follow:
“Chief of staff
of the Armed Forces North Africa, fell gloriously on the battle field
at Beda Fomm, properly sealing a life of dedication to the entire country”.
Sidi El Barrani,
February 7, 1941.
BIOGRAPHIES OF THE BRITISH GENERALS
Field Marshal Sir Archibald
Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell
May 1883 – 24 May 1950) was a British field marshal and the commander
of British Army forces in the Middle East during World War II. The
Middle Eastern theatre was quiet for the first few months of the war until
Italy's declaration of war in June 1940. The Italian forces in North
East Africa greatly outnumbered the British and Wavell's
policy was therefore one of "flexible containment" to buy
time to build up adequate forces to take the offensive. Having fallen back
in front of Italian advances from Libya, Eritrea and Ethiopia,
mounted successful offensives into Libya (Operation Compass)
in December 1940 and
and Ethiopia in January 1941. By February 1941, his
Western Desert Force under Lieutenant General Richard O'Connor had
defeated the Italian Tenth Army at Beda Fomm
prisoners and appeared to be on the verge of overrunning the last Italian
forces in Libya, which would have ended all direct Axis control in North
Africa. Furthermore, his troops in
East Africa had the Italians
under pressure and at the end of March his forces in Eritrea under
William Platt won the decisive battle of the campaign at Keren
which led to the occupation of the Italian colonies in Ethiopia
However, in February Wavell
had been ordered to halt his advance into Libya and send troops
to Greece where the Germans and Italians were attacking.
General Sir Richard Nugent
O'Connor (21 August 1889 – 17 June 1981)
a British Army general who commanded the Western Desert Force in the early
years of World War II. He was the field commander for Operation Compass,
in which his forces completely destroyed a much larger Italian army — a
victory which nearly drove the Axis from Africa, and in turn, led
Adolf Hitler to send the German Africa Corps under Erwin Rommel
to try and reverse the situation. O'Connor was captured by a German
reconnaissance patrol during the night of 7 April 1941, and spent over
two years in an Italian prisoner of war camp. He eventually escaped in
December 1943, and in 1944 commanded VIII Corps in
Normandy and later during Operation Market Garden. In 1945
he was General Officer in Command of the Eastern Command in India and
then in the closing days of British rule in the subcontinent headed Northern
Command. His final job in the army was Adjutant-General to the Forces
in London in charge of the British Army's administration, personnel and
© Kamal Katba
Egyptian Chronicles is a co-op of Egyptian authors.
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