chapter
Outbreak A parallel war
Pages 5

The Italian Army launched a hapless assault into the French Alps and Mussolini ordered an unwilling Graziani to invade Egypt from Libya. While France had been active in the war he had good cause to protect Libya’s western border with French Tunisia, but now he was able to concentrate his entire army against the Egyptian border. On 13 September Graziani cautiously attacked the scanty British force opposing him, but after advancing only 80 km (50 miles) he halted at Sidi Barrani, where he established a chain of fortified camps and settled down. the British troops termed the advance a “sitzkrieg”—a play on the German blitzkrieg. For Mussolini, though, military achievement was secondary to collecting his booty, as he proclaimed that he needed “a few thousand dead” to give him the right to sit at the peace table with dignity.