×
Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About
     

World War II Database

Invasion of Abyssinia file photo [13320]

Invasion of Abyssinia

3 Oct 1935 - 5 May 1936

Contributor:

ww2dbaseLocated between the Italian territories of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland was the Kingdom of Abyssinia, one of the few independent African countries free of European colonial influence. The first Italian attempt to invade the mineral-rich Abyssinia was in 1896, which resulted in an Italian defeat. As early as 1932 the Italians were violating the Abyssinian borders, constructing a fort at the Walwal oasis and roads wide enough for military maneuvers into Abyssinian territory. Conflict soon broke out. In Nov 1934, a clash between Fitawrarri Shiferaw's troops and Italians at Walwal resulted in 150 Abyssinian and 50 Italian casualties, and the matter was brought to the League of Nations without effective resolution. Italy and Abyssinia each built up their militaries, each foreseeing a wider future conflict inevitable.

ww2dbaseOn 3 Oct 1935, 100,000 Italian troops and Askari mercenaries headed by Emilio De Bono attacked from Eritrea without declaration of War; General Rodolfo Graziani led a smaller invasion force from Italian Somaliland. Adowa was captured on 6 Oct, and Axum nine days later. The League of Nations, although blaming the conflict on the Italians, failed to impose significant sanctions on Italy as punishment; instead of depriving Italy war-essential goods such as oil, coal, and iron, the League of Nations denied Italy of rather useless items such as camels, mules, donkey, and aluminum. Perhaps the most laughable was aluminum, which Italy was so rich of that the metal was one of Italy's chief exports. The British attempted to threaten Italy with military action, but the Italians called the bluff; Benito Mussolini knew that the British had no force spare to threaten Italy. The greatest failure by the British was not denying the use of the Suez Canal to the Italians, an act that could greatly complicate the logistics of the invasion. A faction of the League of Nations also attempted to secretly draft a compromise to end the war, which benefited the European colonial powers more so than for the restoration of Abyssinian sovereignty; this compromise was uncovered soon after and met a quick end. In mid-Dec, Haile Selassie called for a counterattack against the new Italian commander General Pietro Badoglio, but Italian technological superiority ensured Italy's victory. The Italians employed artillery and chemical weapons that the Abyssinians were ill-prepared to fight against with their pre-WW1 era rifles, spears, and shields. On 31 Mar 1936, the Italians defeated the Abyssinians at the Battle of Maychew, the last major battle of the war. On 2 May, Abyssinian King Haile Selassie exiled from his country, and on 5 May the capital city of Addis Ababa fell. On 7 May, Italy officially announced the establishment of Italian East Africa, merging Italian-held territories of Italian Somaliland, Abyssinia, and Eritrea.

ww2dbaseOn 9 May, with the newly acquired territory in Africa, Mussolini declared King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy the Emperor of Abyssinia. Marshal Badoglio was given the titles Duke of Addis Ababa and Viceroy of Italian East Africa. At the Vatican, Pope Pius XI congratulated the Italian aggressors for their recent conquest. The League of Nations continued to condemn Italy for its aggression, alienating Italy from the countries of the League. When the League of Nations realized the harm done, it tried to woo Italy back by lifting the trade sanctions on 2 Jul 1936, but it was too late; Italy would quit the League in the same month.

ww2dbaseOverall, this invasion by itself was of no greater consequence in terms of world affairs. However, after the invasion, not only that an Anglo-Italian alliance against future German aggression impossible, this actually drove Italy so far from Britain that she was now considering siding with Germany.

ww2dbaseSources: the Last Lion, Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Jun 2006

Invasion of Abyssinia Timeline

5 Dec 1934 Representatives of Italy and Abyssinia disputed over the prior month's border incident at Walwal.
3 Oct 1935 100,000 Italian troops and Askari mercenaries headed by Emilio De Bono attacked from Eritrea into Abyssinia without declaration of war.
6 Oct 1935 The Italian 2nd Army Corps entered Adowa, Abyssinia.
8 Oct 1935 The Italian Army entered Makalle, Abyssinia. General Emilio de Bono declared that slavery was abolished in Abyssinia, and dispatched emissaries all over the Tigre province to spread the news that Italian rule was going to be beneficent. Benito Mussolini was livid.
6 Nov 1935 The League of Nations decided to accept the principle of an oil embargo on Italy, but left it up to the delegates to discuss the proposal with their own governments.
15 Nov 1935 The League of Nations placed economic sanctions on Italy for aggressions against Abyssinia.
2 May 1936 Exhausted and heartbroken the Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) travelled by train to Djibouti in French Somaliland where he boarded the British cruiser HMS Enterprise to sail into exile.
5 May 1936 Italian forces captured Addis Ababa, Abyssinia, bringing an end to Abyssinian resistance. During this campaign the Italian air force had used modern weapons, including poison gas, against natives armed with little more than primitive weapons.
7 May 1936 Italy officially announced the establishment of Italian East Africa, merging Italian-held territories of Italian Somaliland, Abyssinia, and Eritrea.

Photographs

Italian troops fighting in Abyssinia, late 1935Italian troops raising their flag over Macalle, Abyssinia, 8 Nov 1935
See all 4 photographs of Invasion of Abyssinia



Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook
 Reddit
 Twitter

Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds




Visitor Submitted Comments

1. anna says:
13 Aug 2006 12:45:25 PM

Very informative site. Do you know of or may have the name of the site with a list of all the italian soldiers that died in Lybia during WW2. I was told that there is a memorial near cairo_egypt. But i dont have the name of it. Thanks
2. Ernest F. Nygard III says:
19 Mar 2007 10:49:39 AM

Thanks - Any information on the 2nd Italo-Abyssinian War is hard to come by like the proverbial Hens Teeth. Any info on 1935-1936 Abyssinian War is very much appreciated!!!
3. NJM says:
9 Apr 2018 06:27:22 AM

In reading "Their Finest Hour" by Winston Churchill, published 1949, your site is yielding some great background information.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Invasion of Abyssinia
Participants:
» Haile Selassie
» Badoglio, Pietro
» Borghese, Junio Valerio
» Campioni, Inigo
» Messe, Giovanni

Location:
» Abyssinia

Invasion of Abyssinia Photo Gallery
Italian troops fighting in Abyssinia, late 1935Italian troops raising their flag over Macalle, Abyssinia, 8 Nov 1935
See all 4 photographs of Invasion of Abyssinia


Famous WW2 Quote
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945