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North Africa

World War II spread to North Africa in 1940 when Italian forces attempted to seize the Suez Canal, a strategically important waterway that allowed ships to sail between Europe and South Asia without having to pass around Africa. Both Allied and Axis powers had colonial interests to defend and pursue on the Continent. The wealth of North Africa-related items on display includes British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s black beret, Patton’s copy of his letter to the Sultan of Morocco that threatened doom if his country did not acquiesce, uniforms, gear, maps, and Montgomery’s handwritten manuscript of his address to the British Eighth Army before the Battle of El Alamein.