Many of Britain's harbours were guarded against low flying bombing attack by barrage balloons moored to barges and trawlers. Photograph shows: Two officers watching the ascent of a balloon from a barge in the Thames Estuary in October 1940.
When Italy declared war on 10 June 1940, the Italian Army in Libya threatened the vital Suez Canal in British-occupied Egypt. Italian forces attacked Egypt on 13 September. General O’Connor’s Western Desert Force was outnumbered, but his commander-in-chief, General Wavell, ordered a surprise attack at Sidi Barrani three days later.