The Duke of Aosta ordered an invasion of British Somaliland. He was the supreme Italian commander in the region. The Italians invaded British Somaliland from Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland.
The commander of the British garrison was prepared and he was ready for the Italians. At the Battle of Tug Argan the two armies joined battle. The British regiments, many from Africa and India put up a fierce struggle. Despite their bravery they had to eventually, retreat. The Italians had superior numbers, including three elite blackshirt battalions and squadrons of fighters and bombers. The British adopted a defensive posture and waited for the Italians to attack them.
During the initial battle, the British and Empire troops inflicted 2,000 casualties on the Italian forces while suffering only 350. The Italians were able to prevail because of their superior numbers and forced the British to abandon their defensive positions. The fought a rearguard action against the advancing Italians.
Italy did not enter the Somaliland capital, Berbera, for almost a month. The British withdrew from their colony in an orderly fashion. Britain built up its African forces in Kenya. The war for East Africa was to continue for many more months. The British focused their counter-attack in east Africa on Ethiopia. They had the support of much of the Ethiopian people who hated the Italians. They were inspired to fight the Italians by their Emperor, who was in exile since 1936.
The British launched an invasion of Ethiopia. It was spearheaded by a South African Division. The Italians were forced to retreat to the Ethiopian capital, which eventually fell to British forces.
The Italians eventually surrendered to the British forces in Somaliland soon after. This marked the end of Mussolini’s dream of a great empire in east Africa.