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What if British occupation of Egypt ended prior to WW2?

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  • What if British occupation of Egypt ended prior to WW2?

    In some ways the British occupation of Egypt was a fluke. In this what if, they end their occupation of the country in 1922 as they had planned to after WW 1 instead of continuing to remain there.

    When Italy enters the war they move to occupy Egypt in late 1940 declaring war on the nation. With no British presence how would this change the outcome?

    I could see Greece doesn't get much Commonwealth assistance as the RN doesn't operate from Alexandrea and there are no troops in Egypt. This might cut either way. Without British assistance, Greece might not become the target of a German invasion. Italy might find they are in a stalemate there.

    Italian East Africa might last far longer with a successful occupation of Egypt and Sudan by Italy.

    The British might have to abandon Malta as indefensible in this scenario too.

  • #2
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    In some ways the British occupation of Egypt was a fluke. In this what if, they end their occupation of the country in 1922 as they had planned to after WW 1 instead of continuing to remain there.

    When Italy enters the war they move to occupy Egypt in late 1940 declaring war on the nation. With no British presence how would this change the outcome?

    I could see Greece doesn't get much Commonwealth assistance as the RN doesn't operate from Alexandrea and there are no troops in Egypt. This might cut either way. Without British assistance, Greece might not become the target of a German invasion. Italy might find they are in a stalemate there.

    Italian East Africa might last far longer with a successful occupation of Egypt and Sudan by Italy.

    The British might have to abandon Malta as indefensible in this scenario too.
    The Suez Canal was such a vital artery that it would scarcely be left undefended :such was its importance that ,in addition,there was a British presence in Cyprus ,and Aden at the other end of the Red Sea,so the scenario is rather far-fetched.
    Last edited by BELGRAVE; 30 Nov 15, 16:01.
    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
    Samuel Johnson.

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    • #3
      That almost happened anyway.

      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
      In some ways the British occupation of Egypt was a fluke. In this what if, they end their occupation of the country in 1922 as they had planned to after WW 1 instead of continuing to remain there.

      When Italy enters the war they move to occupy Egypt in late 1940 declaring war on the nation. With no British presence how would this change the outcome?

      I could see Greece doesn't get much Commonwealth assistance as the RN doesn't operate from Alexandrea and there are no troops in Egypt. This might cut either way. Without British assistance, Greece might not become the target of a German invasion. Italy might find they are in a stalemate there.

      Italian East Africa might last far longer with a successful occupation of Egypt and Sudan by Italy.

      The British might have to abandon Malta as indefensible in this scenario too.
      Historically, on June 16th, 1940, 1st Sea Lord Dudley Pound suggested to ABC, that he should block the Suez Canal and withdraw the bulk of the Med. Fleet to Gibraltar, the rest to Aden. Cunningham disliked the blow to British prestige, discussed it all with the other 2 British commanders in Egypt, and they agreed that it could be held if reinforced, Pound did not insist and it stayed there. With the Italians in the war, transit through the Central Med. was problematic at best, closed to commerce & trade Suez was of limited value, a largely colonial war with Italy ensued, Germany wasn't threatened in the least. There were/are those that would argue that it wasn't worth the cost, the forces & treasure that had been promised to defend Imperial assets in the Far East were spent defending Imperial assets in the Middle East instead. BTW, with the British well estblished in Aden, and in the Persian Gulf, there would still be no oil, and Suez would be just as closed to the Italians.
      Last edited by Marmat; 30 Nov 15, 18:32.
      "I am Groot"
      - Groot

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      • #4
        Would Italy have even gone that direction if Egypt was independent?
        If they made a convincing display of strength and neutrality, Italy should have gone elsewhere.

        There was Greece, which they did try for, Cyprus and the Levant. If the RN had left the Red Sea too, then there were Italian Squadrons of DDs and Torpedo Boats in Eretria (Masawa) ready to take over that stretch of water.
        Mussy could have tried to take Sudan and Arabia at the same time, once he thought he was ready... and who knows when that might have been?
        Too soon, if history is any guide.
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          An alternative is Egypt just joins the Axis. No British occupation makes that possible. The Suez canal wasn't too important for Britain once the war started after all. They couldn't run convoys through the Med anyway.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            An alternative is Egypt just joins the Axis. No British occupation makes that possible. The Suez canal wasn't too important for Britain once the war started after all. They couldn't run convoys through the Med anyway.
            No,but the fact that,prior to the war,the Suez Canal was regarded as a vital shipping artery argues against any British withdrawal after 1882. The existence of the canal was the overriding reason why they were there in the first place ,rather than any excessive regard for the pyramids.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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