The Suez Canal allows one to travel from the Mediterranean or North Atlantic to the Indian Ocean without having to circumvent the continent of Africa. A ship traveling from the UK to India could expect to save 2 weeks travel time by using the canal. This also pertains to the Persian Gulf.
After the outbreak of WWII the Axis sent troops to North Africa(1940) to capture the canal. Fighting in North Africa went back and forth with neither side being able to vanquish the other. In the summer of 1942 the axis was poised to break through. The Axis offensive launched on May - July 1942 saw Allies rolling back.
- May 26: Axis forces assault the Gazala line, the Battle of Gazala and Battle of Bir Hakeim begins
- June 11: Axis forces begin offensive from "the Cauldron" position
- June 13: "Black Saturday". Axis inflicts heavy defeat on British armoured divisions
- June 21: Tobruk captured by Axis forces
- June 28: Mersa Matruh, Egypt, falls to Rommel.
- June 30: Axis forces reach El Alamein and attack the Allied defences, the First Battle of El Alamein begins
- July 4: First Battle of El Alamein continues as Axis digs in and Eighth Army launch series of attacks
- July 31: Auchinleck calls off offensive activities to allow Eighth Army to regroup and resupply
The Allied lines held. In August of 1942, Montgomery was appointed commander of the British Eighth Army and on Oct 23 1942, he launched a major offensive from El Alamein which forced the Axis retreat. Operation Torch Nov 8 - 10th landed Anglo American troops In French North Africa (Morocco and Algeria) cutting off the Axis forces in Tunisia. On May 13, 1943 Axis forces in North Africa surrendered.
How Important was the Suez Canal to the UK, vs British Empire? How important was it during WW2 vs after WW2? In a related question: Why did the Allies Invade French North Africa?, it was noted that all senior American military officers objected to the allies landings in North Africa, as all of the senior British military officers and Chuchill insisted on the North African invasions. It took FDR to order his officers to prioritize operation Torch to break the impasse. Nobody including me in that segment mentioned the Suez Canal. The primary reason the Axis and Allies were in North Africa. Clearly the Suez Canal was a vital interest to the British Empire before WWII, It was perhaps even more important after WWII for oil, even though the British began to disengage from the empire beginning in 1945 with the election of Clement Attlee as PM replacing Churchill.
The pro-decolonisation Labour government, elected at the 1945 general election and led by Clement Attlee, moved quickly to tackle the most pressing issue facing the empire: Indian independence. India's two major political parties—the Indian National Congress (led by Mahatma Gandhi) and the Muslim League (led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah)—had been campaigning for independence for decades, but disagreed as to how it should be implemented.
- Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia for example in 1938, but in Iran in 1908.
- The first British North Sear oil well dates from 1967.
My thought is oil transportation wasn't the primary value of the Suez Canal during WWII because American oil, amounted in all "to 6 billion barrels, out of a total of 7 billion barrels consumed by the Allies for the period of World War". (see How Important Was Oil in World War II?
Question: How important was the Suez Canal to the Allies during WWII?
Was it's primary value in the maintenance of the British Empire? Economically tying together the UK with it's most important colonial possession India as well as economically important China in peace time for example.