World War, SOUTHERN THEATRE: Fall of Bengasi

"Bengasi is in our hands."

These five quiet words last week couched an amazing event. Far faster than even the sanguine British had imagined possible, eastern Libya had collapsed. In exactly two months Italy's colonial ambitions of 15 years had collapsed like a pricked balloon.

There had been nothing like it in that part of the world for 31 centuries—since the Pharaoh Merneptah, in 1221 B.C., sent his archers out to stop an invasion by the Libyans. Like General Sir Archibald Wavell, Merneptah surprised himself with a brilliant success: drove the Libyans to...

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