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Allied Middle East Command

ALLIED MIDDLE EAST COMMAND

Military administrative command of the World War II era, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, created by the British government in 1939 to organize the war effort in the Middle East.

General Sir Archibald Wavell was the first commander, taking charge in June 1939. At first encompassing Egypt, the Sudan, Cyprus, and Transjordan, the command spanned two continents and encompassed an area 1,700 by 2,000 miles (2,735 to 3,218 km). After the beginning of World War II, the command was expanded to include Aden, British Somaliland, and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Under Wavell's command, the British were successful in operations against the Italians but failed when the Germans, under General Erwin Rommel, counterattacked. Command passed to General Sir Claude Auchinleck in July 1941, and then to General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander in August 1942. During this period, the British finally prevailed against German and Italian forces in North Africa. In August 1942, Iran and Iraq were detached from the command, and consideration was given by Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill to renaming it the Near Eastern Command. To preclude confusion, the Cabinet persuaded Churchill to retain the original name for the command in Cairo. After the successful American and British invasion of North Africa in November 1942, under the leadership of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Middle East Command was primarily concerned with administrative and logistic problems.

see also wavell, archibald percival.

Bibliography


Barnet, Correlli. The Desert Generals, 2d edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.

Daniel E. Spector

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