Ethiopian Army – The Abyssinian Crisis

The following order of battle gives the proximate locations and tasking of forces in late 1935 at the time of The Abyssinian Crisis ie the beginning of the Ethiopian Christmas counter offensive. The order of battle also includes some units with additional notes to give a more complete description of the entire Ethiopian Army, such as the battalion of cadets formed late in the war even though they were not present in December 1935 and subsequent Ethiopian reinforcements in 1936.

The list is based on the wikipage which has the armies conveniently laid out, though is inaccurate for the purposes of The Abyssinian Crisis counterfactual. Its organisational details do not match those of the December time period and not all force totals compare well with other sources. Surprisingly its referencing is weak given the quite detailed information it presents.

The order of battle presented here uses additional sources, a number of which it must be said, do not always agree, It is probably fair to say that exact numbers will probably never be known with any certainty. Indeed the US Army Observer embedded with the Italian Army reported that as of December 15;

The army headquarters and the bulk of the Imperial Guard
 was at Dessie under the command of Ras Mulugheta. Mulugheta had under his immediate command, in the area south of Macalle, a force estimated at about 70,000 men. Ras Cassa and Ras Seyum had at their disposal, in the southern Tembien, farther to the west, about 36,000. Ras Imru with about 20,000 men was in the Semien and Tzellemti, and Degiaco Aialeu Burru with 15,000 men was south of the Scire.”

These numbers differ by degrees with those of the generally well regarded history by Marshal Badoglio’s War in Abyssinia, so it can be seen that exact numbers will vary but the thrust of the organisational forces and their locations are generally agreed. Ras Imru’s personal account, given years later in an interview with the Italian historian Del Boca, differ from the above assessment of his forces, for which his recollection is given with some clarity.

Thus, the order of battle can be taken as a ‘good guide’ but cannot claim to be one-hundred percent accurate, if such is possible. It will however be correct in force allocations and groupings and can be considered accurate for setting up scenarios for The Abyssinian Crisis.

Ethiopian situation October 1935.png

Ethiopian forces in early November, as they mass in the north for the Christmas Offensive and establish their southern fronts to oppose Italian Somaliland. Within a month these forces will coalesce into formal armies as detailed below.


Ethiopian Army Dec, 1935

Addis Ababa/Dessie – Emperor Haile Selassie

  • 3 Battalions of the Imperial Guard
  • Cadet school (Mobilized as a Guard battalion late in the war with Cadets as officers with militia soldiers – 400 regulars)
  • Armoured force – 4 FIAT 3000 tanks and a number of Ford Armoured Trucks (approximately 7-10)


Northern front

Army of the Left – Ras Imru Haile Selassie (Commander of the West)

  • Gojjam Provincial Armed Forces (Sefari)- Ras Imru Haile Selassie – 25,000 regulars
  • Wolqayt and Semien Sefari – Fitaurari Ayalew Birru -10,000 mountaineers
  • Gojjam Levies – Dejaz Gessesse Belew (later deserted, revolted) – 5,000 warriors


Army of the Center– Ras Kassa Haile Darge (Commander of the North)

Ras Seyum Mangasha
  • Tigray Sefari – Leul Ras Seyum Mangasha – 14,000 warriors
  • Wag Sefari – Dejaz Haile Kebbede – 7,000 warriors, 3,000 regulars
  • Lasta Sefari – Fitaurari Andarge – 3,000 warriors
  • Yejju Sefari – Dejaz Admassu Birru – 2,500 warriors


Army of the Right – Ras Mulugeta Yeggazu of Illubabor (Mahal Sefari)

  • Amino Provincial Sefari
  • Gubba Provincial Sefari
  • Gurage Provincial Sefari
  • Jimma Provincial Sefari
  • Mui Provincial Sefari
  • Om Hajer Provincial Sefari
  • Sela Provincial Sefari
  • Sodo Provincial Sefari
  • Welega Provincial Sefari

Total – (80,000+)


Danakil region – Dejaz Kassa Sebhat

  • 400 trained warriors
  • 100 regulars
  • 5 machineguns


Later Reinforcements

  • Ifrata Sefari – Ras Kebbede – 35,000 Shewan levies
  • Welega-Ardjo Sefari – Bitwoded Makonnen Demissie – 2,000 warriors (best armed of the Northern armies, known to have Oerlikon AA guns)
  • Kaffa Sefari – Ras Getachew Abate – 24,000 warriors


To subdue Gojjam revolt

Wollo Sefari – Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen Tafari

  • from Wollo – Nevraid Aregai – 1,000 warriors
  • from Lekemt – Dejaz Hapte Gabre Mariam Gabre – 1,000 warriors



Southern front


Ogaden Sefari – Grasmac Afawarq Walda Samayat (d. 05NOV35)

  • less than 2,000 warriors – Fitaurari Badde / Balambaras Ali Nur
  • Some hundreds (500?) of Somali rebels – Omar Samanthar
  • 9,000 Walwal & Warder – Fitaurari Walde Amanuel
  • 2 Guard Battalions – Fitaurari Simu and Kebbede – 1,000 warriors with machineguns and mortars

Total 12,000 warriors.



Hararghe Sefari – Dejaz Nasibu Emmanual (Commander of the South)

  • 1 Imperial Guard Battalion (500 warriors)
  • Illubabor Sefari – Dejaz Makonnen Endelkachew – 18,000 warriors
  • Gemu Gofa Sefari – Dejaz Abebe Damtew – 5,000 warriors
  • Arusi Sefari – Dejaz Amde Mikael – 5,000 regular
  • Kula Sefari – Dejaz Hapte Mikael – 1,500 warriors


Webi Shebelle front – Dejaz Beine Merid

  • Bale Sefari – 5,000 warriors
  • Dolo Garrison – 500 warriors


Juba Front – Ras Desta Damtew

  • 1 Imperial Guard Battalion (500 warriors)
  • Sidamo-Borama Sefari- Ras Desta Damtew
  • Fitaurari Ademe Anbassu – 19,000 warriors (well armed)
  • Fitaurari Tedeamme Zelleka – 15,000 warriors
  • Oerlikon AA guns

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