The campaign in Libya
After Germany decided to isolate Britain, it aimed at achieving the destruction of Egypt as a means of destroying Britain's naval power and weakening its empire. Hitler's success in the Balkans, Crete, and the shores of North Africa could have given him important strategic proximity to the Middle East and - thus gain control of the approaches to the oil fields of the Soviet Union.
When Italy attacked on June 10th 1940, the British forces in the Middle East were commanded by General Wavell. The Italians strategy should have been to execute a victorious blow to the British forces in Egypt, but Wavell repulsed them and they eventually withdrew from Libya. With the help of General O'Connor the British defeated the Italians in successful battles in the Western Desert.
At the same time Wavell also sent troops to Sudan and Kenya to totally oust the Italians from East Africa. In April 1941, the British forces entered Addis Ababa and by the end of the month they cleared all the lines of supply to their forces on the Red Sea . In these battles the British forces were aided by Ethiopian guerrillas.
In Libya, there remained a small British force that held the lines south of Benghazi. The aim was to remove completely the Italian forces from North Africa.
India and Australia provided manpower to these campaigns, especially in the period before the American involvement in the War.
Churchill acted in the Mediterranean as if it were a front of the highest priority, even though the senior command did not put it on the top of their agenda.
He expanded the military involvement of the British forces in the Middle East far beyond what was desired by the British High Command and of part of his Cabinet.