Talk:Italian conquest of British Somaliland

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This article has scattered references to heavy fighting and casualties and yet the British records show 158 casualties and the Italians record " about 200". This is tiny considering the opposing forces were 24,000 vs 4,000. Am I missing something here? Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 17:21, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, these are the "official" numbers of casualties. Extraofficially, the British write of 2000 Italian casualties and some Italian historians agree. But even some fascist historians (Gentile) write that the Commonwealth casualties were "nearly one thousand British colonial troops" and that the "Somaliland Camel Corps" was not embarqued because practically disappeared (it was decimated by too many casualties and defections). --Brunodam 01:46, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Not officially, the Italian officer Carlo De Simone estimated that nearly one thousand local fighters (on the side of the British) were casualties during the campaign. These "armed men" operated as local "Bande", with only minimal control from British officers (like Colonel Chater). Even the fascist Gentile writes of this thousand casualties, and he accepts that there were nearly 2000 casualties between the Somalis of Somaliland that fought as "armed Bands" for the Italians. On this website [1], you can see the photo of the most popular local tribe boss (named: Afchar) greeting the Italians and offering his men against the British. Regards.--Brunodam 16:53, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
So what you are saying is there were local Somali bands controlled by local warlords some fighting against the Italians and some the British. I can find no referencee in British texts that any of these (except the Camel Corps which was an official British colonial unit) came under British orders. As far as the British were concerned there were no local fighters on their side but there may have been bands fighting against the Italians. They cannot be said to be British forces or British casualties, in fact wherever irregular forces are mentioned in the British documentation it is invariably in the context of trying to keep them out of the way because they were ineffective fighters and would not take orders, making them totally unpredictable and disruptive. They certainly had no impact on the fighting (these independent bands were raiders after loot rather than victory). They could only be considered as British casualties if there is official British documentation itemising the casualties and a specific citation can be made. There is no such thing as unofficial casualties! Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 18:29, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
So, Kirrages, how do you define those 3000 casualties? There are precise references in Italian history books about these casualties. (that I can bring to you). May be we have to call them "guerrilla casualties" or "irregulars casualties", but they fought (according to general Frusci) side by side with the Italians and the English in the campaign (and they had some impact on the fighting). It is unfair to forget those soldiers, only because they were not "officially" registered. By the way, the Ethiopian irregular fighters against the Italians in Amba Alagi (and other places in Ethiopia) are named and counted in the related articles.

Note. A simple solution: if you don't agree with my last reversal, let's cancel the reference to casualties in the explanatory first template of the article. OK?--Brunodam 18:50, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

That's not my point: I'm trying to conform with the Wikipedia content criteria: "..... factual, notable, verifiable with external sources, and neutrally presented, with external sources cited". So.
1. I can find no reference in British sources to irregulars fighting alongside the British in Somaliland, only in Ethiopia (the Camel Corps was not an irregular force but a regular police unit. It was disbanded when the British evacuated and its members melted into the local population).
2. I think it's important to have casualty figures and I'm quite happy to have 1000 casualties listed if we can find and cite official records that say British forces suffered 1000 casualties. At the moment all I can find are the figures given in Eastern Epic which is an officially sponsored history and that says about 150 dead, wounded and missing. As to the "precise references" in Italian history books, we should not rely on opposing sides estimates of the other side's casualties. Enemy casualty figures (in any war) are always subject to 'spin' for home consumtion (when the Italian army occupied Kassala, and Gallabat, Radio Rome reported that a full British Division had been wiped out at Bunbodi - and I'm sure there were similar propaganda excesses on the British side!). So it's no good quoting British casualty figures from Italian sources or indeed Italian casualty from British sources because they would both be guessing (you already made this point when rejecting the British suggestion that the Italian force's deaths amounted to between 10 and twenty times that of the British, based on the difference in number of graves they found between the time they evacuated and the time they returned the following year). The British kept precise records of their own casualties and I imagine the Italians did likewise for their own and it is these figures that we should use.
I hope you understand therefore why I am reverting the "Non-official" number until we can find a hard, credible source to cite. Regards Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 23:36, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
In this case, Kirrages, I don't find the figures given in Eastern Epic worth of more consideration than the ones from Italian sources. I am erasing the "Casualties" section in the template, because it is related only to official estimates and does not take in consideration the reality of the casualties of Irregulars. They are casualties too, don't forget...Don't you believe we should allow an impartial administrator to decide about? --Brunodam 01:28, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

The Eastern Epic figures for British casualties are not estimates, they are drawn from British army records. Therefore they are firm numbers with a credible citation. They are consistent with the fact that Churchill complained to Wavell that casualties were so low that it implied an effective defence had not been mounted. They therefore should remain. I leave you to decide about Italian casualties from Italian sources. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 12:21, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Listen, Stephen Kirrage, I don't want additional "problems" (even because I have a lot of work and I cannot keep writing in wiki anymore). I am going to reverse for the last time to the "casualties" numbers that you have started to erase, and I am going to ask the intervention of a responsible administrator (because you don't agree with the elimination of the "casualties" in the initial template of the article).

I repeat that the Italian sources about "figures for British and Italian casualties are not estimates, they are drawn from Italian army records. Therefore they are firm numbers with a credible citation". I am using your same words, because both Italian and English sources are serious and believable in the same way. I don't know about Churchill's complaint/rage, but "an effective defence had been mounted" if nearly 3500 casualties happened in the campaign (ca. 500 British & Italians plus 1000 + 2000 Irregulars Somalis). That number is consistent with the casualties in other colonial campaigns, where many casualties were suffered by local "Irregulars". Of course, those numbers are very minimal for an european campaign like in the Battle of Moscow, but Somaliland was a depopulated area in colonial Africa....

Anyway, if you see the photo of the air raid on a British motorized column in the article, you can easily spot eight (or more) destroyed British vehicles: these vehicle were retreating with soldiers inside, who probaby were hurt (or killed). I guess that at least a dozen British were casualties in that attack, at least. Can you imagine that nearly ten percent of the "official" 158 British casualties have happened ONLY in that single air raid??? Something is missing here, as you said!

May be the official numbers of British casualties are a "propaganda" puzzle......Regards.--Brunodam 19:00, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

(Sigh) you seem to have misunderstood me again. I believe that official Italian records should have accurate figures for Italian casualties and British records accurate figures for British casualties (this cannot be falsified, the casualties' families have to be informed and casualties are formally documented in army records). Each side can only estimate the casualties of their opponents and may distort them for propaganda (easy enough to do). It is not our job in Wikipedia to interpret photographs and or make our own guesses based on contemporary campaigns elsewhere (this would be original research which is forbidden), we have to write based on published sources and give specific citations of facts. In this case, official British figures should be used for British casualties and official Italian figures for Italian casualties. I have supplied British figures and given specific reference to a published book written after the war and therefore not subject to wartime censorship and propaganda pressure. May I suggest that it is not appropriate that you should delete this data (or add non-official numbers) just because it does not fit with Italian army estimates which cannot be considered reliable any more than British estimates of Italian casualties can be. I am therefore restoring them. As far as I am concerned you may decide what to do regarding Italian casualties (on which I have no sources).
As far as irregulars are concerned I have not yet found any reference in the British bibliography that irregulars fought alongside the British (as they did in Ethiopia) whether as allies or co-belligerents. Again, I think the British order of battle should be the one identified in British records, not in Italian records. If there were irregulars fighting against the Italians, it would seem that they were not fighting for the British!!. Regards. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 01:00, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Sincerely, I am very sad to read what "Sayyid" wrote here [2]. I hope he will understand that I (and I believe even Stephen Kirrages and others) have no racist bias toward the Somalian people. I add his book on the "Sources" and reinsert my Italian figures for Somali casualties that were erased by the anonimous Regards.--Brunodam 04:30, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

British Somaliland was a Protectorate - Like Egypt and Palestine - and not a part of the British Empire and so unless the country had organised its own official defence forces to include them the 'irregulars' would not have come under British control - as a protectorate of Britain it was up to the UK to provide any defending forces. Therefore the 'irregulars' would not have been counted under contemporary British casualty figures nor would they have been in any way part of the formal defending British forces. The Italians may have caused significant casualties among the 'irregulars' but as they were not fighting under the control of the British they can hardly be counted as 'British casualties'. For them to have been counted as 'British' casualties they would have needed to have been in a formally constituted arm of either the Somali government or of a British regiment - such as the Camel Corps.
The status of being a 'Protectorate' BTW was instigated as a means for a more powerful country to protect a less powerful undeveloped one from its less scrupulous powerful neighbours.
As for the strafed lorries the poster referred-to, unlike some other countries' armies, it is unlikely that any British column of vehicles would have been caught out like that, all columns maintained lookouts for possibly unfriendly aircraft while on the move - which is what the circular hole in the cab roofs of many British military vehicles was for - and upon sighting any unidentified aircraft, the column would stop and everyone scatter as far from the vehicles as they could get. So the vehicles would be by then empty when attacked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:44, 3 August 2014 (UTC)


The red lettering in the photographs on this page is superfluous. They basically say what the captions below do and distract from the subject of the photograph. Is it possible to remove these?


I was attempting to "clean up" (not change) some of the sentences and I noticed the mention of the Dunkirk, as in the Battle of Dunkirk. According to whoever wrote this section (or added this bit of info), the Duke of Aosta ordered that the departing British be left alone . . . like Dunkirk. The problem is that the Germans never left the British alone at Dunkirk. The Germans decided to save their armor at Dunkirk, but, from what I have read, the air force continued to attack vigorously. I suggest this be deleted unless a quote from the Duke of Aosta is used. Mkpumphrey 15:48, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Go ahead. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 16:52, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
IIRC, the order to halt the German armour at Dunkirk was due to the vehicles having travelled many miles on their tracks which were, by then, worn out.
Once the tracks are badly worn they become loose and likely to be thrown, which leaves the vehicle immobile. So you risk losing all your armour within a very short time if you carry on.
This BTW, is the reason for the existence of tank transporters.
This doesn't matter too much if not among the enemy, but if so, then you have effectively lost the tank.
This reason is not obvious to people unfamiliar with tracked armoured vehicles, but is nevertheless an important factor in armoured warfare. Many 'unfathomable' halts have been ordered that non-armoured personnel cannot understand. It's simple, if you don't stop within a few miles then every vehicle will soon be immobile. Then you need a recovery vehicle to move the tanks and unblock the road - you can't just manually shove a twenty- or thirty-ton tracked vehicle off the road - and a supply of new tracks to fit to each vehicle.
Its a question of risk, see. Carrying-on may gain you more territory and further your advance, but the risk is that you lose all your vehicles, which could then actually lose you the battle you were previously winning. So you stop while the vehicles are still usable so that should you need to defend yourself, you still can. A vehicle with a broken track is a sitting duck. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:40, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

The Vatican[edit]

"He did this in the hope of a possible future peace agreement between Italy and Great Britain (thanks to the mediation of the Vatican)." My issue is with the "thanks to the mediation of the Vatican" part. The Duke of Aosta may have thought that the Vatican would intervene, but that does not mean it ever happened. It is still not appropriate that the Vatican should be "thanked" for something that it would most likely not choose to be involved with. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, the Vatican was never involved in a peace agreement between Italy and the UK after this invasion. There is one big problem with this "thanks" since the Vatican is being thanked for something that probably never happened. Mkpumphrey 15:59, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I should have written:"He did this in the hope of a possible future peace agreement, that was being promoted through the Vatican mediation, between Italy and Great Britain". This agreement was promoted by the Pope after June 1940 and was scratched definitively in December 1940, after the beginning of the British attacks against Italy in Africa (Libya and A.O.I.). This agreement was even in the letters (between Mussolini and Churchill) disappeared at Lake Como in 1945.--Brunodam 20:43, 4 September 2007 (UTC)


Moved narrative items from East African Campaign (World War II) to avoid unnecessary duplication but had to re-edit this page to fit it in and harmonise citation styles.Keith-264 (talk) 17:06, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

"Conquest" vs "invasion"[edit]

To me, the current title of the article sound rather odd. "Conquest" sounds rather archaic - would we talk about the "German conquest of France" in 1940? I'd suggest that "Italian invasion of British Somaliland" would be a much more natural title.—Brigade Piron (talk) 16:32, 11 September 2016 (UTC)

Invasion is the process, conquest is the result; notice also that the British had no moral right to be there in the first place, they were both aggressors.Keith-264 (talk) 17:40, 11 September 2016 (UTC)