14 FEBRUARY 1941, Page 2

The Conquest of Cyrenaica

The appointment of General Wilson to be Military Governor and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Cyrenaica marks the conclusion of the conquest of the vast eastern province of Libya and the end of at least the first phase of one of the most brilliant military campaigns in history. It was the amazing speed of the British armoured columns upon Benghazi which dumbfounded the Italians. General Berganzoli, his staff, and his army found their retreat towards the south at Soluk cut off. They put up a stiff fight till their ammunition was exhausted, when the General gave the order to surrender. Thus in successive stages the flower of the Italian army in Libya was destroyed or captured—at Sidi Barrani, at Bardia, at Tobruk, Derna and finally Benghazi. An army which was planning to capture Alexandria and Suez has ceased to exist, and the country stretching goo miles behind it has fallen completely into British hands. British troops have already moved on to El Agheila, beyond which lies 30o miles of almost uninterrupted desert. Our troops are mopping up isolated positions in the south ; and the Free French forces, operating from Chad, have moved north to capture oases in the Kufra region, at one of which was an important Italian aerodrome. The town of Benghazi itself provides us with a first-rate port, which will be invaluable for our ships operating in the Mediterranean, and affords a base for aeroplanes within comparatively easy striking distance of Sicily and southern Italy.