El Alamein is a town in N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It was the site of a decisive British victory in World War II. In preparation for an attack by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel from Libya (begun May 26, 1942) the British forces retreated into Egypt and by June 30 had set up a defense line extending 35 mi (56 km) from Alamein S to the Qattara Depression, a badland which could neither be crossed nor flanked. If this position had fallen, the British might have lost Alexandria and been forced to withdraw from North Africa. In August, Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery took command of the 8th Army. The British offensive opened on Oct. 23 with tremendous air and artillery bombardments. Montgomery's forces cleared the German minefields and on Nov. 1 and 2 burst through the German lines near the sea and forced a swift Axis retreat out of Egypt, across Libya, and into E Tunisia. Egypt was definitely saved, and with the landing on Nov. 7 and 8 of American troops in Algeria the Axis soon suffered (May, 1943) total defeat in North Africa. For his victory Montgomery was made a viscount with the title Montgomery of Alamein.
QUOTESThe German hero, Erwin Rommel. In Africa in 1942
"To every man of us, Tobruk was a symbol of British resistance, and we were now going to finish with it for good."
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel - June 1942
QUOTESThe British general Montgomery
"The battle is going very heavily against us. We're being crushed by the enemy weight...We are facing very difficult days, perhaps the most difficult that a man can undergo."
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel - 3rd November 1942
"The defeat of the enemy in the Battle of El Alamein, the pursuit of his beaten army and the final capture of Tripoli...has all been accomplished in three months. This is probably without parallel in history."
Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery - 23rd January 1943
A German Panzer 3 tank rolls
GERMAN NEWSREEL NOV 1942
German machine-gunners take up positions
ITALIAN NEWSREEL: CAPTURE OF TOBRUK
Italian anti-tank gunners
German soldiers of the Afrika Korps slog it out in the sun in 1942
British tanks in the desert - 1942
The British attack
A German panzer destroyed
An Australian soldier sweats it out. July 1942. The forward troops had to endure cramped conditions in slit trenches during the heat of the day, as movement above ground was impossible due to enemy fire.
Australian soldiers crawl
The British charge
Those who fought and died in the battle are commemorated in several locations in Egypt today
BOOKS ON ERWIN ROMMEL