As I said earlier, he was the first Prime Minister of Israel.
The figures were pure propaganda. The real truth is the number of combatants committed to the 1948 war by the Arab nations TOTAL was 45,000-55,000 at the zenith of the war's escalation. The total number Arab combatants NEVER ONCE outnumbered the total number of Jewish combatants. Alot of people are ignorant of this fact because the history of the State of Israel and its war of independence contains many such myths.
Another fact that is ignored is Plan Dalet, in which ethnic cleansing and the invasion of Arab UN partitioned land was preplanned.
BTW, during WWII, Egypt declared itself neutral and did not enter the war until 1945 and even then participated very little.
British Preparations for War
Never pro-British at the best of times, the Egyptians were further disenchanted by British slowness to reinforce the country as the war clouds gathered. In August 1939, Egypt had agreed to participate in its own defence: providing patrols along the western frontier; defending the desert south-west of Cairo; protecting the railway between Alexandria and Mersa Matruh; providing units to help defend Alexandria (including coastal artillery) and to protect against sabotage. Although distrustful of Egyptian commitment and capability, the British had little option but to take advantage of the additional manpower on offer. With their Egyptian bases at least notionally protected, the British were able to concentrate on mobile operations in the desert.
At the end of August 1939, British and Egyptian units began moving into position, with the Egyptians deploying according to the agreement. Foremost in these moves was the Sudanese-manned Frontier Force of five squadrons mounted on Ford pick-ups. Two squadrons took up places at Siwa and others at Sollum. The frontier was then almost entirely in Egyptian hands, in accordance with the treaty and the British strategy not to provoke the Italians. The southern desert flank was covered by the ‘South Western Force’ of Egyptian light tanks (six Mk VIB), motorised units and No. 1 Squadron of the Royal Egyptian Air Force (Lysanders). Commanded by Prince Duad and first stationed at Al Bahariya oasis, this force later moved to Cairo and then Kassaba. Although British plans continued to include the use of Egyptian units, there was no guarantee that the Egyptians would actually fight. Egypt would commit to defence only, having refused to declare war unless her territory was attacked. Such was British distrust that they did not permit the raising of a National Guard.
The Outbreak of War
When the war began, relations with the Axis were severed but Egypt remained neutral (not declaring war on the Axis until February 1945). Italy declared war on Britain, but not Egypt, on 10 June 1940. Still, the mobile units continued to patrol the frontier. The Frontier Force squadrons at Siwa were reinforced by four old British Vickers Medium Mk IIA tanks, with crews trained by the Royal Tank Regiment, and a flight of REAF Lysanders. In August 1940, 2nd Lieutenant Pat Clayton led the first mission of the unit that was to become the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), from Siwa across the sand sea into Libya. The patrol was supported by seven Sudanese-manned Frontier Force trucks carrying petrol, under the command of an Egyptian Mulazim Awal (lieutenant). Although under orders not to, the Egyptian trucks travelled across the frontier, possibly becoming the only Egyptian Army troops to operate in Italian territory during the war.
As late as the summer of 1940, Egyptian forces were still being included in British plans for the defence of Egypt. By then the motorised elements had become known as the Egyptian Mobile Force and it was envisaged that these units, 'if in the desert and operating', would be attached to British formations rather than fight under Egyptian command. For instance, in the event of an attack across the frontier, a light detachment of 7 Armoured Division would be supported by the Egyptian Light Car Regiment and an Egyptian 3.7inch howitzer battery. Other Egyptian units would also have fought under British command as Egyptian brigades were essentially administrative formations and brigade headquarters were incapable of any command function in the event of war. Frequent changes of leadership could only have made matters worse as between August 1939 and October 1942 there were five Egyptian chiefs of staff.
The British relied heavily on the Egyptian army for antiaircraft defence and by mid-1939 most of the AA defences of the Delta and the Suez Canal were Egyptian-manned. Only 22 guns and 24 searchlights in Alexandria and 16 guns in Cairo were manned by British troops. It was planned that these and further reinforcements should be taken over by the Egyptians but the Royal Navy did not agree and the plan was dropped. The Egyptian AA crews were thought unreliable and during the summer of 1940 those in Alexandria were supplemented by a party of specially trained cavalrymen from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. New Zealanders and other Yeomanry formed similar units and an Australian field regiment began training with AA guns. After the first Italian air raids however, the Egyptian AA gunners proved to be their army’s most effective soldiers and during the subsequent campaign were to shoot-down a number of Axis aircraft. They could even beat their British counterparts in competition though one Egyptian commander, a good Muslim, was bemused by the prize - a crate of whisky. Egyptian gunners also manned coastal artillery in Alexandria.
Withdrawal of the Egyptian Army
One of the myths of Nasser’s Egypt is that the withdrawal caused such deep resentment amongst Egyptian officers that they considered overthrowing the Egyptian monarchy and government. The truth would appear to be somewhat different, the whole force was happy to get away from the dangers and privations of the desert. The Head of the Cairo Branch of the British Secret Service, Major A.W. Sansom, wrote scathingly that, ‘The officers ... spent most of their time with their wives in the Cecil Hotel in Alexandria, and were full of resentment against their hard life in the desert. The troops, who lived on an appalling diet of dried beans and lentil soup with an occasional bit of meat, regarded the officers with envious hatred and were ready to fire the first shots in their backs. As the officers were well aware of this there was a tradition of leading from behind. Officers and men alike panicked in air-raids, and it was a standing joke among British troops, that the Egyptian encampments moved farther from the coast road after each heavy raid.’
There was no doubt that the Egyptians, understandably, had little sympathy for the British or their war. Of the three battalions remaining in the Matruh area, Sansom observed that their morale was low and unlikely to rise unless the British were defeated. ‘If Matruh is attacked, they will not resist, but will probably help the attackers. Our position would be stronger without them even if no replacements are available.’ The Egyptian point of view is best summarised by former Prime Minister Ismail Sidqi who after the invasion had begun said, ‘The Italian offensive is not an aggression against Egypt, but against another belligerent on the territory of a third and occupied power.’
Not surprisingly then, Egyptian contributions to the British counteroffensive, Operation Compass were limited. In November and December 1940, some Egyptian motor transport companies were used briefly to move supplies as part of the build up for the operation. The Frontier Force guarded the line of communications as the British chased the Italians into Libya and patrolled in the regions of Aswan and Wadi Halfa. The AA gunners gave good service but the majority of soldiers continued to serve on guard and logistical tasks. The air force undertook weather patrols and transport duties.
The End of the Beginning
It was well that the British had secured the situation, for the war in the desert soon took a significant turn for the worse. In June 1942, the battle of Gazala ended with an Axis victory, Tobruk fell and British and Commonwealth troops began a headlong retreat out of Libya into Egypt. For a time it appeared that the Axis advance would not be stopped but the storm was weathered and both sides, exhausted by their exertions, eventually faced each other across the Alamein line. The Battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942 was won by the British and the war moved away from Egypt, never to return.
For the British, El Alamein was the ‘end of the beginning’ but this brought little change to the status of the Egyptian Army. The army grew in size to around 100,000 soldiers. Some Egyptians flew on patrol in British planes with British crews and an Egyptian naval service was formed with a few-British supplied patrol boats. The British continued to supply the Egyptians throughout and after the war, in addition to the patrol boats were some 40 aircraft, 38 scout cars and 298 Bren guns. There was however, to be no combat role for the Egyptians. For the remainder of the war, the Egyptian Army was relegated to internal security duties. In 1936 the Egyptian Army had been seen as important for the defence of British interests but peacetime expediency was abandoned in the face of wartime reality when it was recognised that the Egyptians had neither the will nor the capability to undertake a serious military role.
Edited by Ambush Bug, 09 October 2012 - 04:46 PM.