Alliance Axis - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Possessing Power Italy
Population in 1939 915,440


ww2dbaseItaly gained influence in North Africa from the Ottoman Empire after the Italo-Turkish War of 1911 to 1912. In 1934, Italy consolidated its three North African colonies of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan into a single entity of Italian Libya. Civil liberties and the right to own property were granted to Libyan colonials at the same time, while Libyans were also allowed to join the Italian military, although Libyan units were always placed under the command of Italian officers. In the 1930s, Italy embarked on several major projects to improve infrastructure in Italian Libya, the most significant of which were transportation, which included the coastal road between Tripoli and Benghazi, various railroads (Tripoli-Zuara, Tripoli-Garian, Tripoli-Tagiura, Benghazi-Barce, and Benghazi-Soluch), the expansion of the ports at both Tripoli and Benghazi, and the establishment of a major airfield in Tripoli. Industries were also developed in the region, which were mostly food processing related plants, but also included a Fiat factory producing automobile parts and a number of agricultural machinery factories. By 1939, there were about 60,000 Italians living in Tripoli, making up 40% of the city's population; Italian records showed that there were 110,575 Italians living in Italian Libya in 1940, about 12% of the total population. On 9 Jan 1939, Royal Decree No. 70 was issued to make Italian Libya within the metropolitan territory of Italy, thus lifting the region's status from a mere colony to a part of the Italian Empire. In a seeming reversal from the violence between Italians and the colonials in the 1910s and 1920s, Italy courted the local Arab population. Along with lifting Italy Libya to near equal status as the provinces in Italy, the local population was now allowed to join the National Fascist Party, while several villages were established complete with mosques, schools, and hospitals to improve the standard of living. The term Fourth Shore (Quarta Sponda) was coined to reflect the area's importance within the Italian Empire.

ww2dbaseThrough the invasion of Egypt, Italian borders in North Africa expanded to the east. In early 1941, as British troops began pushing Italian troops back across the Egyptian-Libyan border, Germany dispatched Erwin Rommel and a force later known as the German Africa Corps to the region, pushing the Allies east and allowing Italian Libya's borders to expand to cover most of the Western Desert. On 17 Nov 1942, Italian Libya expanded into the French protectorate of Tunisia. In Feb 1943, Axis forces abandoned Libya and consolidated into Tunisia for the final defense of Axis holdings in North Africa, which ended in May of the same year, ending the Desert War. Tunisia was given to the Free French, the Western Desert had already been re-captured by British forces, and Libya was placed under British (former Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) and French (former Fezzan) control.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Italy attempted to regain colonial influence in North Africa without success. In 1947, Italy signed the agreement to relinquish all claims to territory in North Africa. On 21 Nov 1949, the United Nations passed the resolution for Libya's full independence. On 24 Dec 1951, the United Kingdom of Libya was declared. Italians living in Libya gradually moved back to Italy in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1970, on the orders of Muammar Gaddafi, all remaining 20,000 Italians in Libya were deported.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: May 2011

Events Taken Place in Libya
Operation Compass8 Dec 1940 - 9 Feb 1941
Battle of Kufra6 Jan 1941 - 1 Mar 1941
Operation Sonnenblume8 Feb 1941 - 6 May 1941
Battle of Giarabub21 Mar 1941 - 23 Mar 1941
Siege of Tobruk10 Apr 1941 - 27 Nov 1941
Bardia Raid19 Apr 1941 - 20 Apr 1941
Operation Brevity15 May 1941 - 16 May 1941
Operation Battleaxe15 Jun 1941 - 17 Jun 1941
Operation Crusader18 Nov 1941 - 14 Dec 1941
Battle of Cape Bon13 Dec 1941
Battle of Gazala26 May 1942 - 21 Jun 1942
Raids in Libya13 Sep 1942 - 19 Sep 1942


WW2-Era Weather Data for Libya


Dovunque 35 with a Breda 20/65 Mod. 1935 autocannon of 42nd Artillery Regiment of Italian 61st Infantry Division Aerial view of the village of Giarabub, Libya, 1941Soldier of the Polish Carpathian Brigade in Tobruk, Libya, 1941Smoke rising from the port of Tobruk, Libya, 22 Jan 1941.
See all 20 photographs of Libya in World War II

Libya in World War II Interactive Map

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. nuri sefrita says:
9 Apr 2016 11:22:41 PM

Dear sir / Madam

I would like to ask if there is any recorders for the Libyans 2nd world war prisoner , as my grandfather was anticipated in the war and he was war prisoner in Egypt for almost 6 months .

I really appreciate your help and advice .

2. GIAMAL Basha Agha says:
15 Mar 2017 02:18:06 PM

Dear father was one of the Italian army while second war from my father was hostage arrested by British army for 4 years
Please check his name
Mr.Salem ajili BASHA AGHA
From yefren. Libya
3. john says:
21 Mar 2017 06:40:39 PM

Dear Sir,

I would like to know which archives in Libya or Italy hold information on which Italian regiments were based at which barracks in Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya from 1911- to 1943.
Thank you.
4. Ahmed says:
30 Aug 2017 08:16:35 PM

Dear Sir,
My father was working with British army during WWII as auto ambulance driver as well as his uncle Idris Abdsalam who join the third British army, I was wondering where can I get information about that.

Thank you
5. Mr A. Faber says:
29 Oct 2017 10:04:50 AM

Dear Sir,
My father was a POW and held in camp 116 Benghazi before being shipped to Italy. Do you know whether this camp still exists and if it does, where can I find RECENT photos of it.
I thank you kindly.
6. Anonymous says:
16 Apr 2018 02:58:28 AM

Dear Sir .
My uncle joined the British army on 1949 since then no information about hem .
Please direct me to the wright web to get any information
7. Anonymous says:
3 Jun 2021 11:21:17 AM

My father was in LIBYA during wwII and was taken prisioner to Liverpool .Do have information on these camps?

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Libya in World War II Photo Gallery
Dovunque 35 with a Breda 20/65 Mod. 1935 autocannon of 42nd Artillery Regiment of Italian 61st Infantry Division
See all 20 photographs of Libya in World War II

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