Presentation of the belligerents
The East African Campaign is a series of battles (land, air and sea) between the Italian and Commonwealth forces, which will lead to the conquest (or liberation) of the Italian Empire.
It consists of three territories: Eritrea, Italian Somalia and Abyssinia. If the first two were annexed for a long time (1890), it is quite another for the last one. Indeed, Abyssinia will only be incorporated as an Italian entity in 1936 and, in practice, will never experience true pacification. The period of Italian colonization is marked by the violence of the occupier and by the failure of his policy provoking the development of the Ethiopian armed movements. From then on, no region of Abyssinia will ever be entirely under Italian control. This will have significant consequences during the upcoming East African Campaign. For example, a telegram from Mussolini dated June 5 orders, inter alia, “to shoot all the resistants taken prisoner and to continue the use of mustard gas against the fires of revolt”. Finally, Amédée II of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, considered more peaceful and diplomatic, was sent on the spot, December 21, 1937, as Viceroy. While the situation improves slightly, thanks to the softer methods of the latter, but the fascist leader Arcanovaldo Bonacorsi recognizes in 1939 that “the empire is everywhere in a state of latent rebellion, which can have a tragic outcome, when the war will burst with our enemies. If an English or French detachment were to enter a point, it would need little or no troop since they would find a large number of Abyssinians ready to join them and to retreat our forces “.
In 1939, the year when the war broke out in Europe, the stalemate in Italy is only getting worse. On one side the Italians fail to put an end to the resistance, on the other hand the Ethiopians are unable to penetrate the opposing lines.
Moreover, in case of conflict, this Italian Empire has a particular disadvantage since it is far from its Metropolis and surrounded by enemy territories. Thus, it is bordered on the west by the Sudan (Anglo-Egyptian condominium, mainly for the first), on the north by the French Somalian coast (although the French capitulation will solve the problem quickly) and British Somalia, while on the other side of the sea is the base of Aden (in charge of protecting access to the Red Sea) and to the south by Kenya (again, British possession).