Egypt-Libya Campaign
The Egypt–Libya Campaign is the name used by the United States military for the US contribution to the Allied Western Desert Campaign
Western Desert Campaign
The Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War, was the initial stage of the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign was heavily influenced by the availability of supplies and transport. The ability of the Allied forces, operating from besieged Malta, to...

, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. From 1942, U.S. forces assisted the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 in fighting Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 forces in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. The U.S. Egypt–Libya Campaign was part of what the US military called the Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Mediterranean Theater of Operations
The Mediterranean Theater of Operations, United States Army was originally called North African Theater of Operations and is an American term for the conflict that took place between the Allies and Axis Powers in North Africa and Italy during World War II...


Air force operations

The United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) began planning for a buildup of American air power in the Middle East in January 1942 in response to a request from the British Chief of the Air Staff. The initial unit to arrive was given the codename HALPRO. It was under the command of Col. Harry A. Halverson and consisted of twenty-three B-24D Liberator
B-24 Liberator
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber...

 heavy bombers with hand-picked crews. It had initially been assigned to the China Burma India Theatre
China Burma India Theater of World War II
China Burma India Theater was the name used by the United States Army for its forces operating in conjunction with British and Chinese Allied air and land forces in China, Burma, and India during World War II...

 to attack Japan from airfields in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, but after the fall of Rangoon the Burma Road
Burma Road
The Burma Road is a road linking Burma with the southwest of China. Its terminals are Kunming, Yunnan, and Lashio, Burma. When it was built, Burma was a British colony.The road is long and runs through rough mountain country...

 was cut so the detachment could not be logistically
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 supported in China.

HALPROs first mission was flown on June 12, 1942 against the Romanian
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 oil facilities at Ploieşti
Ploiești is the county seat of Prahova County and lies in the historical region of Wallachia in Romania. The city is located north of Bucharest....

. Thirteen B-24s flew this first U.S. mission against a European target causing negligible damage. On June 15, seven planes assisted the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) in attacking an Italian fleet which had put to sea to intercept a British resupply convoy (Operation Vigorous
Operation Vigorous
Operation Vigorous was a World War II Allied operation to deliver a supply convoy that sailed from Haifa and Port Said on 12 June 1942 to Malta. The convoy encountered heavy Axis air and sea opposition and returned to Alexandria on 16 June....

) on its way to Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. HALPRO then flew in support of British Commonwealth forces fighting in the deserts of Egypt and Libya on the eastern end of the Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 desert (the British term Western Desert refers to the Sahara being to the west of Egypt). HALPRO's primary mission became the interdiction of supplies to Rommel's Army in North Africa by bombing strikes on Axis cargo ships at sea or in the ports of Tobruk and Benghazi.

The same day U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East
U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East
United States Army Forces in the Middle East ' was a unified United States Army command during World War II established in August, 1942 by order of General George Marshall to oversee the Egypt-Libya Campaign....

 (USAFIME) was created to replace both the North African Mission in Cairo and the Iranian Mission in the Persian Corridor
Persian Corridor
The Persian Corridor is the name for a supply route through Iran into Soviet Azerbaijan by which British aid and American Lend-Lease supplies were transferred to the Soviet Union during World War II.-Background:...

. On June 16 the War Department named Army General Russell L. Maxwell as the first commander of USAFIME. An Army general, rather than an Army Air Corps general, was named because at the time it was still expected that there would be a large U.S. Army land force contribution to the campaign. The next day the War Department informed Maxwell that the Halverson Detachment would remain in Egypt as a part of USAFIME.

In anticipation of the arrival of the American air groups, the War Department sent Maj. Gen. Lewis H Brereton, commander of the U.S. Tenth Air Force
Tenth Air Force
The Tenth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Reserve Command . It is headquartered at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas....

 in India, to Cairo for temporary duty to assist the Commonwealth forces. He arrived in Cairo on June 25, along with nine B-17s.

On June 30 Brereton had directed the B-17s which he had brought from India to move their operations to Palestine. The B-24s of the Halverson Detachment joined them at Lydda, Palestine. Both units flew day and night bombing missions against the Axis' increasingly inadequate supply lines, concentrating their efforts against the port of Tobruk
Tobruk or Tubruq is a city, seaport, and peninsula on Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border with Egypt. It is the capital of the Butnan District and has a population of 120,000 ....


The heavy bombers of the Brereton and Halverson detachments (now combined into the 1st Provisional Group, under Halverson's command) had been flying with the Commonwealth air forces for some time, and drawing on that experience, the 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) which arrived in mid-August, was able to go directly into action. The 1st Provisional Group provided the nucleus of the 376th Bomb Group in October, 1942.

When the 12th Bombardment Group (Medium) and the 57th Fighter Group arrived in the theater of operations, they entered a highly cooperative type of air warfare in an unfamiliar desert environment. Initially, they were integrated into comparable RAF formations, allowing them to observe firsthand the complex techniques of air-ground coordination that the Commonwealth forces had developed during their years of fighting in the Western Desert.

To co-ordinate the growing American presence the USAMEAF had established the IX Bomber Command and IX Fighter Command
IX Fighter Command
The IX Fighter Command is an inactive United States Army Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the Ninth Air Force, based at Erlangen, Germany. It was inactivated on 16 November 1945....


In November, Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews assumed command of USAFIME, replacing Maxwell. Andrews was an experienced airman, and one of his first acts was to establish the Ninth Air Force
Ninth Air Force
The Ninth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....

 to replace USAMEAF. Which was a recognition that the force would remain an Air force and that Ground forces would not be taking part in the campaign. Brereton assumed command of the new organization and established the IX Air Service Command, which joined the IX Bomber Command and the IX Fighter Command as the major subordinate headquarters. The 376th Bombardment Group, originally organized to support Soviet forces, became part of the IX Bomber Command and flew its first combat missions over the deserts of North Africa.

The U.S. Army's Egypt–Libya Campaign ended on 12 February 1943, when the Allied forces finally succeeded in driving all Axis forces out of Libya.
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