Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
Good evening I'm -- north and welcomed the war stories this is the national training center where America's military -- for desert warfare.
And it was -- here it will that's during World War II.
American forces -- their first desert war.
In North Africa.
Tonight we're going to bring you the story of the North African campaign.
First allied offensive against.
Where American troops he's -- combat hardened German army led by Erwin Rommel.
The desert fox.
These were battles fought the bear and track was rated North Africa where inexperienced leaders and law American soldiers some just weeks out of recruit train.
-- the horror of war for the first time.
General George Patton understood how crucial this battle in the desert would be -- defeating it was war.
Book was -- sit on their victory defended the freedom or slavery.
Of the human race we shall surely win.
But as you'll see tonight the decisive victory -- -- almost -- the allies in Africa.
This is a North African desert.
The vast landscape where nothing is quite what it seems it's -- -- without water.
It's mysteries of made -- the land of intrigue and espionage.
-- support over almost since time began.
The exotic streets at the Egyptian capital see the world apart from the storm brewing the content weigh in Europe.
But in the -- -- and alongside ancient monuments the city and and I always full entry.
When war broke out in Europe was a colony of Great Britain this meant it wouldn't remain outside the -- Its capital Cairo was the largest most important city in North Africa.
In 1939 North Africa looked very much as it does today to the west of Egypt Libya.
And Morocco seventeen million people.
The combined area almost as large as the continental United States its strategic value future.
Any power plane.
This was not lost on British prime minister Winston Churchill.
You control North African who really control the Mediterranean.
Rick Atkinson is the author of an army at dawn the war in North Africa.
And opened up Suez Canal and access to India and the Far East Churchill vowed to hold Egypt no matter -- But he wasn't the only European leader who understood the strategic importance of North Africa.
Italians have had great imperial ambitions in the Mussolini and Mussolini had to.
In an effort to expand his African empire to gobble up some more colonies.
And Mussolini even tried to dress like an -- For a -- Italy been a great power in the Mediterranean.
With -- wanted more.
1911 Italy invaded Libya followed by Ethiopian 1930.
When Hitler's army invaded Poland in 1939.
And it was only a matter of time.
For the fighting came again.
In September 1940 was -- -- these black shirts.
The Italian version of Germany's storm troopers swept them.
Egypt and attacked the -- The Mussolini's troops were poorly trained and equipped and the.
Italians work quickly repulsed by a much smaller British force.
At that point Hitler recognized that he could not afford to have his most important European allies it'll.
Defeated in North Africa.
He decided that he would send a very capable.
Officer -- -- Erwin Rommel.
Erwin Rommel was alleged lieutenant colonel mark Riordan is a senior military historian with the US army he was.
As well known to his opponent says to the German people at home in his own troops one of the things -- did do was to basically pioneer.
The ideas of combined arms warfare.
He'd done in Europe he tries -- in Africa he was a risk taker.
Which many jails were not.
The desert fox cut his teeth on the battlefields of World War I and became one of that was most trusted warriors.
He wasn't typical German general -- not a member of the Nazi party per say but.
He was loyal enough that he commanded.
Hitler's personal guards time and vision poll.
As commander of the Africa -- Ron led the axis power in fierce fighting with the British.
But while the third one I and the fighting with the British -- -- The other was on North Africa where he quickly took control of the French colonies of Morocco Algeria and Tunisia.
When Germany invaded France and early summer of 1940.
And had control of the conference short order.
-- then offered a kind of deal with a double to the French this and you can move your capital since I -- Paris now to the spot -- of the -- And you may also keep you or we colonies in North Africa Morocco Algeria.
That the V -- government and its citizens appeared independent in truth.
They were under Hitler's direct control so we see them having agreed that they will fight anyone who tries to come ashore North Africa.
But no enforce -- that the first opponents the French would face in North Africa.
Would come from the American heartland over 4000.
As World War II spread from country to country around the world.
Back home Americans were reluctant to get involved.
The country was coming out of the great depression and most people who simply trying to make ends meet it was a long enough proud tradition of isolationism and the American republic to the United States did not want to get involved and this national sentiment was reflected in our armed forces far from being a super power.
The American army at the time ranked always the seventeenth largest in the world.
Just behind Romania we still had the old bell hill -- from world war war.
It wouldn't -- Seventeen year old Joseph -- I joined the Iowa National Guard on December 31 1939.
I was living -- my sister and -- Moines Iowa and.
I needed to gain a little money and give a little discipline in my life -- I joined the National Guard.
Joining boy not the Iowa National Guard was a farm boy named -- stone had a good friend that was in the guard Brandon.
He's your former Georgia district that caller drill them.
We're got a little bit -- -- -- for a 21 days that's only one dollars.
That looked awful days.
Found himself another country boy wanted to get off the farm is named Jefferson like.
He hailed from Tallahassee Florida former labor automate picture today this -- -- Toward I'll get get away from.
-- But despite this young and inexperienced army all things changed in the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
December 7 1941.
-- remember the -- experience dvd because -- through auction.
State of alert they re equipped with part of it.
Trying you know the war what mission do you get at that point.
Now the Pearl -- the -- we've got it made it pretty I think they -- it pretty.
-- or today.
-- -- sergeants or any of the trainers.
Had experience in any combat -- You'll -- -- -- was in World War I.
One of the squad leaders from World War I.
That was it.
The overall health of kids we know we're going to combat but we didn't know -- That was being waged in the Pacific and Europe these young green troops had no idea where they -- the last place and -- they thought -- -- -- With a remote deserts of north after.
Filter by section