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The First VictoryThe Second World War and the East Africa Campaign$
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Andrew Stewart

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208559

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208559.001.0001

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Imperial Defeat

Imperial Defeat

The Surrender of British Somaliland

(p.71) Chapter 4 Imperial Defeat
The First Victory

Andrew Stewart

Yale University Press

This chapter narrates how the loss of British Somaliland marked the first redrawing of the British Empire's map since 1931 when a strip of land in Sudan had been ceded to Italy. Major-General Reade Godwin-Austen admitted that what had happened drove him on during the subsequent campaign to show the Italians “what being overwhelmed by numbers and superior armament felt like.” Hitler apparently referred to it as a hard blow to British prestige, but it was actually more an emotional setback than a military one. All the British had lost was the privilege of maintaining an expensive garrison in their least valuable colony. However, the chapter shows how the Italians had failed to exploit the opportunities presented to them, and within a matter of months, this high point of victory would seem futile.

Keywords:   British Somaliland, British Empire, Italy, Major-General Reade Gowwin-Austen, Hitler, British prestige, colony, superior armament

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