Alternate History

Egypto-Sudanese War (When Sudan Attack)

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Egypto-Sudanese War
Date 22 October 1962 - 25 December 1962
(2 months, 3 days)
Location Egypt and Sudan
  • Egyptian victory
  • Sudanese surrender
  • Christmas Day treaty:
    • Egypt annex northern Sudan, including coast
    • Ethiopia annex South Sudan
  • Fall of Harold Macmillan's British government
  • Cold War tensions deepen
United Kingdom
Supported by:
Soviet Union
Supported by:
NATO (non-military)
Commanders and leaders
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Leonid Brezhnev
Ibrahim Abboud
Harold Macmillan
Casualties and losses
Military dead: 15,000
Civilian dead: 8,000
Total dead: 23,000
Military dead: 22,000
Civilian dead: 12,000
Total dead: 34,000
Military dead: 37,000
Civilian dead: 20,000
Total dead: 57,000
The Egypto-Sudanese War was an armed conflict between Egypt and Sudan which occurred between October and December 1962, shortly before the outbreak of World War 3. The conflict is widely regarded as a proxy war between the opposing powers of the Cold War which resulted in greatly heightened tensions.

The conflict broke out after months of rising tensions between the two main belligerents, with heavily armed Sudanese armed forces repeatedly straying into the disputed Egyptian-administered Hala'ib Triangle region without explanation. Following the shootdown of an Egyptian fighter jet over the Hala'ib Triangle by Sudan on 22 October, Egypt launched significant airstrikes against targets in northern Sudan, marking the beginning of the war.

The Egyptian airstrikes in northern Sudan caught the country's military by surprise, damaging as much as 75% of the country's military equipment. In addition, airstrikes critically damaged Sudan's only civilian and naval port, Port Sudan, leaving the country almost defenseless to a seaborne invasion.

After many days of exchanging fire across the border, Egyptian forces, with heavy backing from the Soviet Union, launched a land invasion of northern Sudan on 5 November. This was timed to coincide with a simultaneous sea-based invasion of Sudan's Red Sea coast, attacking Sudan from the north and east.

In the face of heavy defeat but not yet willing to surrender, Sudan requested assistance from the international community. The United States outright refused to provide aid; however, on 8 November, an agreement was reached with the United Kingdom for them to place thousands of British troops on the ground in Sudan alongside the Sudanese armed forces. Later on in the war, many Royal Air Force aircraft were moved to Khartoum to provide close air support.

In response to the British intervention, Ethiopia signed a military alliance with Egypt and in late November launched an invasion of their own into southern Sudan. The Ethiopian invasion, heavily backed by Egypt and the Soviet Union, caught Sudan even more by surprise.

On Christmas Eve, the key cities of Juba and Omdurman were captured by Egypt and Ethiopia respectively, and Egyptian forces were firing heavily on the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. On Christmas Day, Sudan surrendered, and the UK withdrew. Egyptian forces moved into Khartoum and captured the city.

The Christmas Day Treaty was signed several days after the end of the war, awarding large areas of northern Sudan to Egypt and the entire of the autonomous South Sudan district to Ethiopia. Khartoum and Omdurman were returned to Sudan, however, their Red Sea coast was not.

The United Kingdom's dramatic defeat in the war, coming just six years after their disastrous defeat in the Suez Crisis, once again brought shame on the nation's government. As with the aftermath of Suez, defeat in the Egypto-Sudanese War resulted in Harold Macmillan's resignation as Prime Minister.


The roots of the conflict can be traced back to July 1962, when diplomatic relations between Egypt and Sudan broke down considerably over control of the Hala'ib Triangle and nearby Wadi Halfa Salient. Following the breakdown in relations, an Egyptian Navy vessel was assigned to patrol the area of Lake Nasser covered by the disputed Wadi Halfa Salient.

Sudan regarded this deployment on Lake Nasser as an act of war and summoned the Egyptian ambassador to provide an answer in front of Parliament on 27 July. Unable to provide a suitable answer, the ambassador was heckled and booed by the Members of Parliament. With tensions at boiling point, the ambassador left Parliament of his own accord, fearing for his safety, with security preventing angry MPs from chasing after him.

The Egyptian ambassador to Sudan was subsequently expelled from the country and all Egyptian embassies and consulates were closed down. The next day, Egypt responded by expelling Sudan's ambassador to Egypt and closing down all of Sudan's embassies and consulates in Egypt, with assembled protesters outside the Sudanese embassy in Cairo burning the Sudanese flag.

In early August, the Sudanese Navy transported a naval vessel by rail from the country's Red Sea coast at Port Sudan to the river Nile at Omdurman, before sailing it up the Nile to Lake Nasser on the Sudanese side of the disputed lake border. Meanwhile, a Sudanese Army encampment was established on the shores of Lake Nasser nearby to keep a watchful eye on Egyptian movements.

Meanwhile, noting the movement of the naval vessel to Lake Nasser, Egypt began to build up troops along their entire border with Sudan, to which Sudan responded by building up their own troops on their own side of the border.

On 17 October, a misunderstanding resulted in shots being fired on Lake Nasser between the Egyptian and Sudanese patrol vessels, after the Egyptian Navy miscalculated the location of the Sudanese vessel and believed that it was trespassing within the Wadi Halfa Salient, which Egypt regarded as their own territory and currently had control of. Subsequent to the incident on Lake Nasser, minor border clashes were reported along the then-current Hala'ib Triangle border.

Armed conflict


Sudanese warplanes launched a surprise attack on military and civilian targets in southern Egypt, particularly around the Hala'ib Triangle, overnight on 22 October. The attack caught Egypt entirely by surprise and as such their response times for scrambling jets was massively reduced, allowing Sudanese jets to cause critical damage to several military bases in the south of Egypt

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