Battle of Gondar
|Battle of Gondar|
|Part of the East African Campaign of World War II|
Ethiopian painting of the battle
|Italy|| United Kingdom
|Commanders and leaders|
|Guglielmo Nasi|| William Platt
|Casualties and losses|
|Total casualties from June to November:
(300 Italian & 3,700 Ascari)
8,400 wounded or sick
| 32 killed
6 missing (final assault only)
The Battle of Gondar was the last stand of the Italian forces in Italian East Africa during the Second World War. The battle took place in November 1941, during the East African Campaign. Gondar was the main town of Amhara in the mountains north of Lake Tana, at an elevation of 7,000 feet (2,100 m) and had an Italian garrison of 40,000, commanded by Generale Guglielmo Nasi.
After the defeat of the Italian forces at Keren on 1 April 1941, many of the remaining Italians withdrew to three strongholds: Amba Alagi, Jimma, and Gondar. Amba Alagi fell in May and Jimma fell in July.
On 13 November, a mixed force from the British 12th (African) Division under Major-General Charles Fowkes—supported by Ethiopian irregular troops—attacked the key defensive position of Kulkaber and were repelled. A second attack on 21 November from several directions was resisted until the afternoon, when Italian posts began to surrender. In the final attack there were 206 British and Ethiopian casualties and 2,423 Italian and Ethiopian prisoners taken.
By this point the Allies had total control of the skies: the Italians possessed only a single Fiat CR.42, piloted by Sergente Giuseppe Mottet. On 22 November, in the Regia Aeronautica's final sortie in East Africa, he made a strafing run on British artillery at Kulkaber that killed the artilley's commmander, Lieutenant Colonel John Yeadon Ormsby. Afterwards, he landed at Gondar and destroyed the plane.
There were two mountain passes that overlooked the town which were controlled by the Italian troops. They were invested by the two brigades of the 12th (African) Division. The two Italian groups in the passes were cut off and were forced to surrender when their supplies ran out.
Once the Allied troops had taken the passes, they gained control of the heights overlooking the town, and the Italian garrison under Generale Nasi in the town itself was attacked on 27 November and surrendered after the Kenya Armoured Car Regiment had penetrated the outskirts of the town.
- Maravigna 1949, p. 191.
- Playfair et al. 1956, pp. 200, 310–311, 313.
- Playfair et al. 1956, p. 319.
- Mead 2007, p. 142.
- Playfair et al. 1956, p. 320.
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- Playfair et al. 1956, pp. 320–321.
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