Friday 1 October 2021

Second Italo-Ethiopian War

On 3 October 1935, two hundred thousand soldiers of the Italian Army commanded by Marshal Emilio De Bono invaded and attacked Ethiopia from Eritrea (then an Italian colonial possession) starting the Second Italo-Ethiopian War without prior declaration of war. At the same time a minor force under General Rodolfo Graziani attacked Ethiopia from Italian Somalia. On 6 October, Aduwa was conquered, a symbolic place for the Italian army. On 15 October, Italian troops seized Aksum, and the obelisk adorning the city was torn from its site and sent to Rome to be placed symbolically in front of the building of the Ministry of Colonies created by the Fascist regime.

Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini withdrew De Bono and replaced him with General Pietro Badoglio, reasons being the slow pace of De Bono. The withdrawing of De Bono and his men was the air needed by Ethiopia. 

Mussolini believed in a matter of weeks; Italy would have over run Ethiopia, but this was not the case as the war pushed on for three years.

Italy invaded Ethiopia without any prior notice, encroachment of it's land and declaration of war. The Italians overwhelmed the Ethiopian forces with a sudden attack, they also had superior air power, arms and amunitions and technology. Extensive use of gas weapons were employed by the Italians.

The Italians had 500,000 personnel (with extra 100,000 mobilised), 795 tanks, 2,000 artillery pieces, 595 aircraft to the 800,000(Extra 330,000 mobilised), 4 tanks, 7 armoured cars, 200 artillery pieces, 13 aircraft the Ethiopians had.

The Ethiopians lacked in many ways, modern weapons, a communication service (radio) which helped the Italians Impose a narrow fence on the Ethiopian forces which relied mainly on foot messengers, leading to many of the Ethiopian soldiers walking into traps.

The Ethiopians had one important factor the Italians lacked, the will and desire to defend their motherland, headed by the anointed Haile Selassie and lead by the Powerful General Imru Haile Selassie.

Weeks after the war started Nazi Germany sent arms and munitions to Ethiopia because it was frustrated over Italy's objection to its policy towards Austria.

Days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years and after three long years of bloodshed the Italians decided they couldn't keep up with the war anymore. During the course of the war the Italians were gradually losing grounds in other important already conquered territories, most importantly Austria which was being over run by Nazi Germany, the impending WWII meant the Italians had to regroup and get ready for the war.

Contrary to popular narrative that the war ended in 1936, Italy officially stopped their offensive on February 1937 but stayed until they finally lost all grounds and left in early 1941.

Casualties and losses

• 377,500 Ethiopians

• 208,000 Italian forces.

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