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A feature of the year's operations by Fighter Command has been the numerous sweeps over occupied
territory by cannon-armed Spitfire Vs (above) and
Hurricane lis (right).
Graziani h a d been threatening E g y p t . T h a t a r m y
was all killed or c a p t u r e d , a n d no subsequent
success by t h e enemy could replace it. In t h a t
campaign t h e Royal Air Force, stoutly helped by the
air forces of South Africa and Rhodesia, obtained an
undisputed mastery over t h e Regia
Aeronautica,
and played a tremendous p a r t in General Wavell's
success. T h e N a v y h a d also co-operated wholeheartedly and with great effect.
In Greece and East

Africa

T h e superiority of t h e R . A . F . was also clearly


manifested in Albania, where t h e Greeks were
steadily pressing back the Italians, though the
b a d weather of J a n u a r y h a d slowed u p their advance. T h e n u m b e r of British fighters, Hurricanes
a n d Gladiators, in Greece was small, b u t t h e pilots
would a t t a c k a n y n u m b e r of Italian fighters, a n d
always h a d t h e best of the encounters. Blenheims
helped t h e Greek A r m y in its advance, and British
bombers, mostly based on Crete, constantly raided
t h e Italian ports of Valona a n d Durazzo in Albania,
a n d Brindisi in I t a l y . Things seemed t o be going
well t h e r e .
T h e y were going even better in E a s t Africa, where
t h e South African A r m y and its air force, based on
K e n y a , and helped b y regiments of native African
troops from b o t h E a s t a n d W e s t Africa, were begin- [
ning t h e invasion and conquest of Italian Somaliland, a n d ended b y recovering British Somaliland (which
t h e Italians h a d occupied the year before) as well. Indian
a n d other E m p i r e troops, including a contingent of Free
French, were invading t h e Italian colony of Eritrea farther
to t h e north, while t h e re-conquest of Abyssinia was beginning. These three campaigns were t h e greatest success of
the British a n d Allied arms in t h e year. There was very
hard fighting, and t h e storming of Keren in E r i t r e a b y the
Indians will remain one of t h e epic victories of this war.
I n the wooded and mountainous country in which these
campaigns were waged, it was particularly difficult t o get
artillery up to t h e places where t h e infantry needed its
In the early night fights over England and in the present Libyan
battles, the hard-hitting Beaufighter has proved its worth. It
is armed with four 20mm. cannon and six -303 machine guns.

support, and so b o m b a r d m e n t from t h e air was regularly


used to replace it or t o supplement it. I t is a sound rule
never t o ask bombers t o do w h a t can be done b y gunfire,
but when one is short of artillery a t a certain spot it is
legitimate, a n d , in fact, only common sense, t o use
bombers. Of course, those tactics can only be used if t h e
bombers do not run the risk of annihilation b y e n e m y
fighters, b u t t h a t condition obtained t h r o u g h o u t t h e E a s t
African campaigns.
N o t only did t h e Hurricanes and Gladiators beat t h e
Italian fighters whenever t h e y m e t t h e m in t h e air, b u t
large numbers of enemy machines were p u t out of action
by our raiding of their airfields. P r o b a b l y , after this war,
a volume m a y be written on t h e subject of bombing airfields, setting forth the conditions which make it sometimes so futile (as a t Stavanger and in t h e B a t t l e of