UK General Claude Auchinleck, hampered by the siphoning of his men and equipment to support the abortive Greek campaign, had lost all the British gains of 1941 to the fast-driving Rommel. In June 1942 Auchinleck had fallen back to the last line of defense before Alexandria: El Alamein was town 65 miles to the west, bounded by the Qattara Depression, terrain impassible to tanks. He was sacked and returned home.
Rommel, following the British, hit the El Alamein line on July 1, 1942. The Afrika Korps was so far from their supply lines they could not make a serious attempt to break through. Rommel dug in, and created a defensive line of mines, antitank guns, tanks, and infantry.
When Auchinleck’s replacement was killed, Churchill appointed Lieutenant General Bernard L. Montgomery to command the Eighth Army on August 12, 1942. He took command of a thoroughly exhausted army with low morale. He claimed El Alamein would be the decisive battle of the war.
With characteristic deliberateness, Montgomery sought to rebuild the fighting spirit of the Eighth Army. Waiting for reinforcements, especially American tanks, Montgomery retrained his army for two months. British High Command and Churchill were growing impatient, and encouraged him to move. Montgomery took his time, as he would in France two years later.
On October 23, 1942, Montgomery start Operation Lightfoot. Commonwealth Forces moved against Rommel’s line after four hours of artillery bombardment by 1,000 guns. Sappers crawled on their hands and knees, feeling for mines by hand to cut two corridors across the minefields for tanks.
Little progress was made against the Afrika Korps. The plan was shifted to the south when Australians penetrated deep into German territory. Montgomery built up his forces there, and attacked on November 2. Rommel attacked with all his tanks, and lost heavily.
Hitler told Rommel to stand and die in El Alamein, but he disobeyed orders and retreated on November 4. Four days later Americans began landing in North Africa, and the Afrika Korps began its expulsion from North Africa. Months of hard fighting were ahead for both sides.
El Alamein was the last major battle in the war that was exclusively a Commonwealth affair. After that, the Americans would begin to contribute the major balance of men and materiel to the war.
::The Battle of El Alamein::
The Battle of El Alamein, fought in the deserts of North Africa, is seen as one of the decisive victories of World War Two. The Battle of El Alamein was primarily fought between two of the outstanding commanders of World War Two,Montgomery, who succeeded the dismissed Auchinleck, and Rommel. The Allied victory at El Alamein lead to the retreat of the Afrika Korps and the German surrender in North Africa in May 1943.
BBC ON THIS DAY | 4 | 1942: Rommel goes on the run at El Alamein
The German army in North Africa is in full retreat as the Eighth Army triumphs at the Egyptian town of El Alamein.
BBC NEWS | UK | How El Alamein changed the war
The battle of El Alamein, 60 years ago on Wednesday, was a key event in British history. For many, it was the moment they believed the war need not be lost.
Welcome to the Official Website of the Queen's Own Hussars, Discover the roots and history of the senior light cavalry regiment of the British Army, Trace our History and your ancesstors history back through the years, take a tour around our fantastic Vitual Displays, Take a tour around the website to discover all of the Regiments History and traditions
The World at War: Erwin Rommel
Biography of German Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel.
::Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery::
Bernard Montgomery, the hero of El Alamein and North Africa, where he succeeded Auchinleck, was one of the most inspirational military commanders of World War Two. Montgomery was also the senior British military commander at D-Day and retained that position within the west European sphere of the war until the war ended.
afrika-korps.de - deutsches-afrikakorps.de
Eine militärhistorische Studie über den Afrika-Feldzug von 1940-1943 (In German)