The Italian invasion of France, also called the Battle of the Alps (10–25 June 1940), was the first major Italian engagement of World War II and the last major engagement of the Battle of France.
Italy’s entry into the war widened its scope considerably in Africa and theMediterranean Sea. The goal of the Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, was the elimination of Anglo-French domination in the Mediterranean, the reclamation of historically Italian territory (so-called Italia irredenta) and the expansion of Italian influence over the Balkans and in Africa. France and Britain endeavoured throughout the 1930s to draw Mussolini away from an alliance with Germany, but Germany’s rapid successes in the early phase of the war made Italian intervention on the German side inevitable by May 1940.
Italy declared war on France and Britain on the evening of 10 June, to take effect just after midnight . The two sides exchanged air raids on the first day of war, but little transpired on the Alpine front , since both France and Italy had adopted a defensive posture along their frontier. There was some skirmishing between patrols and the French forts of the Ligne Alpine exchanged fire with their Italian counterparts of the Vallo Alpino. On 17 June, France announced that it would seek an armistice with Germany. On 21 June, with a Franco-German armistice about to be signed , the Italians launched a general offensive all along the Alpine front, with the main attack in the northern sector and a secondary advance along the coast. They penetrated a few kilometres into French territory against strong resistance. The offensive stalled before its primary objectives could be attained, the coastal town of Menton being the most significant conquest.
On the evening of 24 June, an armistice was signed at Rome . It came into effect just after midnight on 25 June, at the same time as the armistice with Germany (signed 22 June). Italy was allowed to occupy the territory it had captured in the brief fighting, a demilitarised zone was created on the French side of the border, Italian economic control was extended into southeast France up to the river Rhone and Italy obtained certain rights and concessions in certain of France’s colonies. An armistice control commission, the Commissione Italiana d’Ármistizio con la Francia (CIAF), was set up in Turin to oversee France’s compliance.