20 January 1941

Northern Front

The border forts of Kassala and Tesseney, previously abandoned by the Italians, are captured on the morning of 19 January and the 10th Indian Infantry Brigade is ordered to open the road towards Agordat, the next day, from 14h20. [1] At the same time, three Hawker Hardy of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron are available for armed reconnaissance patrols, while the Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hurricane No.1 (SAAF) Squadron are responsible for providing aerial protection. [2]

Regia Aeronautica is very active on this day in an attempt to slow the advance of British troops, despite a fairly heavy record. Thus Fiat CR.42 claim the destruction of two vehicles, while immobilizing five others, despite a forced landing for three of them. The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and the Caproni Ca.133 are also here with again four damaged aircraft (three seriously). A crew member is also killed and four others injured. A Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 crashes, in addition, in the vicinity of Adi Ugri (Mendefera today). Same for a Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 during an attack west of a place indicated as “Mount Tebu”. In all, according to Christopher Shores, the Italians lost six aircraft and three others seriously damaged during this day, plus the death of eleven airmen and four other wounded. [3]

Always in order to provoke a revolt of the local population, the British decide to organize the return of the Negusä Nägäst Haile Selassie I. The Emperor thus takes place in a Wellesley from No.47 (RAF) Squadron, escorted by Hawker Hurricane Mk I No.1 (SAAF) Squadron, to land at Umm Iddla in the immediate vicinity of border to raise the banner of the Lion of Judah on the now liberated Ethiopian territory. [4]

Southern Front

The Regia Aeronautica is also active over Kenya as the advanced Dukana aerodrome is bombed by six Italian aircraft, albeit without damage. [5]

Three Fairey Battle No.11 (SAAF) Squadron, under the command of Captain Johannes F. Britz, take off at 3h35 to attack the Ethiopian airfield of Yabelo. The bombardment, carried out by a semi-dive from about 2 100 m to 600 m, lasts about thirty-five minutes. However, if at least four Italian aircraft are reported, South Africans are not able to spot any damage because of low fog and an important anti-aircraft defense. [6]


Italian Losses

1 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Crew Killed Crash in the vicinity of Adi Ugri (Mendefera today), during a ground attack.
1 Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Crew Killed Crash in the vicinity of “Mount Tebu” during a ground attack.
3 Fiat CR.42 + 3 Caproni Ca.133 1 Crew membre killed and four injured Damaged during ground attack, near the sector of Kassala – Tesseney.

[1] PRASAD, Bisheshwar. East African Campaign, 1940-41. Official History of the Indian Armed Forces In the Second World War. Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan), 1963. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/India/EAfrica/EAfrica-4.html

[2] No.237 (Rodesia) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kiew : TNA, AIR 27/1450.

[3] SHORES, Christopher ; RICCI, Corrado. Dust Clouds in the Middle East – The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940 – 1942. London : Grub Street, 2010 (Reprinted). p.97.

[4] SHORES, Christopher ; RICCI, Corrado. Dust Clouds in the Middle East – The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940 – 1942. London : Grub Street, 2010 (Reprinted). p.97.

[5] January 1941 – Narrative Northern Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/9.

[6] January 1941 – Narrative Northern Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/9 ; No.11 (SAAF) Squadron : War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/3 ; November – Narrative Norther Operations SAAF

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