The Gold Coast Brigade’s Crossing of the Juba River, Italian Somaliland, February 1941

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
Timothy Stapleton Department of History, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

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In February 1941, West African troops conducted an opposed crossing of the Juba River in Italian Somaliland that, together with a South African crossing to the south, became a decisive action of the East Africa campaign of the Second World War. After the Juba was breached, Italian resistance in Somaliland crumbled with British imperial forces originating in Kenya taking Mogadishu in a few days and advancing into Ethiopia. Based on archival documents, this article pursues two aims. The first is to recover the little-known contribution of West African units during an important Second World War campaign. The second is to present the British-led West African action at Juba as an example of a successful river crossing long considered among the most difficult military operations. The intention is to provide an African example of operational military history traditionally dominated by case studies related to Europe, North America, and Asia.

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