Explaining History

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The Indian Army in the Middle East - 1940

In the summer of 1940 the British faced supply shortages in the Middle East and were vastly outnumbered by Italian forces in Libya. Archibald Wavell, one of Churchill's least favourite generals, came under intense pressure from his Prime Minister for a swift and impressive victory. HIs opposite number Count Graziani quickly realised the Italian Army was poorly equipped for desert war, and despite its size would struggle to achieve a decisive victory. The Indian Fourth Division was deployed in this context and intensively trained by Major General Richard O'Connor to fight the desert battles to come. This podcast is the first of several where I will examine the realities of desert warfare for Indian soldiers.