Compass Op

Compass Op



1. Operation Compass was the first major Allied military campaign purposely launched to subdue Axis power in North Africa. During World War Two, Western Desert, dominated by Libya and Egypt had been orchestrated to be a theater for series of decisive battles that would shape the adversaries course of action.

2. The main adversaries in this campaign were the Italian and British; which the former had already dominated the northern parts of Africa and had experienced facing the local tribe of Bedouin in the desert theatre.


3. The aim of the paper is to discuss and highlight the tactical, command and control and logistic.


4. The paper would cover the following scopes:

a. Background.

b. The Adversaries.

c. Selected Battles.

d. Aftermath.

e. Key Principles of War.

f. Combine Armed Operations.

g. Conclusion.

h. Lesson Learnt.


5. Italian had invaded Northern Africa since the early 1920s and established their colony in Libya. On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on Great Britain and France, thus justifying the cause to invade British held territories; at the eastern front.

6. Meanwhile, there were rumours that Mussolini had discovered that Italian Commander in-chief, Gen Maresciallo Balbo would be his rival. Coincidently, the aircraft carrying the general was shot down and killed him. This event was a big punch for the Italian forces and Gen Balbo was preceded by Field Marshal Rodolpho Graziani, better known as ‘The Butcher of the Desert’.

7. Then, the Italian attempted to invade Egypt, which aimed to capture through the Suez Canal, on September 13, 1940. It was under command of Field Marshal Rodolpho Graziani, whose army was about 200,000 strong and supported by a powerful air arm[1]

8. Since the ultimate goal was to capture Suez Canal, it was a very tough job since it came under Benito Mussolini’s...

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