1922 was a dramatic and pivotal year for Libya. After Mussolini grasped power in Rome at the head of 30,000 Blackshirts, Emir Idris al-Sanussi withdrew to Egypt in self-imposed exile and the Tripolitanian Republic disintegrated as the brutal Italian conquest of the country began in earnest.
Meanwhile, the exploration of the Sahara continued apace. Following Rosita Forbes’ intrepid expedition to Kufra in 1921, Francis Rodd travelled into the heart of the Sahara and wrote about his time with the Tuareg in his book People of the Veil. At the end of the year, Ahmed Hassanein set out from Sollum and discovered two lost oases that opened new Saharan routes that were later used by British special forces.
Rodd and Hassanein were connected in two other ways. They both matriculated at Baliol College, Oxford and both were companions to the British diplomat, Milo Talbot, when he patiently negotiated the crucial peace treaty that ended the Sanussi Jihad in 1917 and allowed Edmund Allenby to focus solely on the Ottoman threat in the east.
Read more about Talbot’s forgotten mission and this period of the long Anglo-Libyan friendship in Part 2 of Liberating Libya.