Battle Spotlight #5: The Second Battle of El Alamein

In North Africa, 1942, the German Afrika Corps surged across Egypt to attack the British 8th Army at El Alamein.Two commanders, Rommel and Montgomery would decide the fate of the North African War. Over 1500 armored units total were engaged in this battle, and lasted over 10 days. The Battle of El Alamein would be the turning point of the North African War as well as the War for Europe.

By 1942, the war in Africa was in stalemate again. Rommel, having retreated from his first attack to regain his supplies, decided to attack again. Now he had pushed the British 8th Army all the way into Egypt. The first battle of El Alamein, resulted in a astealemate, but the weakened Afrika Korps lost even more men and tanks. Rommel had recently received 27 Panzer Mark IVs. These tanks, armed with a high velocity 75mm cannon with 50mm of armor, was the best tanks in the desert. The British remained with their fast Crusaders, as well as receinv the new American M3 “Lee” tanks. The M3 had a low 75mm cannon as well as another cannon above the 75mm.

As both forces waited anxiously, Rommel realized that he was slowly out supplied by his British counterpart, as Rommel’s fast attack during the early year has overextended his supply line by 2000km. Rommel’s first attack on the British failed to accomplish anything, as his flank attack was stopped by the well prepared Montgomery. Rommel retreated and dug-in along a 60 mile front, and waited. Finally on October 23, 1942, Montgomery unleashed an assault on Kidney Ridge with 150 tanks of the 2nd Armoured Division. The Germans only had 50 tanks, 600 infantry, and 18 anti-tank guns. After fierce fighting the British retreated, thanks to the powerful German 88mm anti-tank gun. The 88mm could knock out a British tank from distances up to 2000m. Losing 120 tanks, Montgomery began planning an attack to force Rommel out of El Alamein once and for all.

Montgomery unleashed a three prong attack, and were met with heavy resistance, even though they outnumbered the Germans 2 to 1. Many British armor were trapped in pockets where the Germans have placed deadly mines. Again the British are beaten back with more casualties. After the assault, Rommel predicted that the British would attack form the north, and that is where he put all of his last remaining reserves. Joining Montgomery’s final attack are new M4 Shermans, with their 75mm cannon, are now the best tanks in the deserts of Africa.

Before the attack starts, Rommel tells his men that they are to wait until the British reach 800m before firing. As the newly arrived Shermans began to roll across the sands of the Sahara, the Germans wait anxiously. Then, once the tanks reach 800m, the anti-tank crews open fire. The fighting continues for five days, and now the German Army is on the ropes of defeat. From the 500 Panzers they had, only 35 were left. Montgomery, realizing this, launched Operation Supercharge, forcing Rommel to finally order retreat. The Battle of El Alamein ends in Rommel and his Afrika Korps retreating across Egypt and back into Tripoli, where he had started almost two years ago.


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