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3 October 1935 - Italy Invades Abyssinia

By October 3, 2007

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The fascist leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini, had long wanted an empire - but there were few opportunities left. Africa, except for one region, Abyssinia, had been carved up by Europe. But Abyssinia was ideal for Italy. First it was between two of Italy's existing colonies - Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. Taking Abyssinia would give a unified colony with both ports and productive land. Secondly the Italians had been humiliated in an earlier attempt to colonize the region, with an overwhelming defeat at Adowa (Adwa) - where 100,000 Ethiopians crushed an Italian army of 17,700 men and 56 field guns.

On 3 October 1935 a sizeable force of Italian soldiers and Eritrean Askari under the command of General Emilio De Bono crossed the border from Eritrea and marched towards Adigrat, Inticho, and Daro Tacle. The Northern Front involved the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Italian Army Corps and the Eritrean Army Corps, and included Italy's elite troops, the Alpini and Bersaglieri. There was also a regiment of light tanks, both the CV 3/33 and CV 3/35, with an on paper strength of 165 tanks split between three battalions.

On the same day three Italian infantry divisions and some colonial units attacked across the (disputed) border from Italian Somaliland. Dispute over the Italian Somaliland border with Abyssinia had given rise to the Abyssinian Crisis of 1934, after Italian troops garrisoned the oasis at Wal Wal, in the Ogaden desert, were attacked by Abyssinian forces.

By 4 October Italian troops in the north had successfully occupied its three objectives. By 6 October Italy had taken Adowa (Adwa) and claimed vengeance for the previous century's defeat. On 10 May 1936 Italian forces from the Northern and Southern Fronts linked up at Dire Dawa, and the invasion was complete, Abyssinia was now under Italian rule, and the three countries, Abyssinia, Italian Somaliland, and Eritrea, were federated together as the colony of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, AOI).

Comments

October 4, 2006 at 8:50 am
(1) Jack says:

they should have gotten there asses wooped

October 4, 2007 at 11:45 pm
(2) alemayehu says:

Much appreciated history lesson. Thanks for the memories.

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