May 13, 1943: The North African Campaign ends.
The North African Campaign of World War II began on June 10, 1940, when Italy officially declared war on Great Britain and France, after which forces of the British Army stationed in Egypt (which had been occupied by the British since 1882 and would remain occupied until the 1950s) captured an Italian fort in Libya (an Italian colony), initiating the conflict. Of the nations fighting on both the Allied and Axis sides, many had colonial interests in North Africa and in the territories surrounding, some dating back to the period of imperialist frenzy known as the Scramble for Africa, and the strategic Suez Canal zone, not to mention vast oil resources, was located in this area. Fighting in North Africa primarily took place in the Libyan Desert, in French North Africa, and in Tunisia. Three of the war’s most iconic military leaders commanded forces in North Africa - Bernard Montgomery, Erwin Rommel, and George S. Patton.
Although initially outnumbering the British by a wide margin, Italian military leaders were extremely aware of the fact that they were engaging a modern European enemy using tanks and guns that had been used to subjugate local populations (in addition, Allied codebreaking played a major role in destroying Axis supply lines). After their utter defeat by Allied forces in Operation Compass, which also ended in the destruction of the eastern half of Italy’s African armies, Rommel and the Afrika Korps entered the conflict in February of 1941. Allied and Axis forces pushed each other back and forth across North Africa until a decisive Allied victory at the Second Battle of El-Alamein stopped the Axis advance into Egypt, marking a major turning point in the war in North Africa. The North Africa Campaign came to an end when the remainder of Axis forces, surrounded by the British Army and trapped on the coast in Tunisia, surrendered on May 13, 1943.
Their defeat in North Africa led to the Invasion of Sicily - the penetration of Europe by the Allies through its “soft underbelly”.