No more reverses. That was the message that the British Eighth Army carried into the second battle of El Alamein in October 1942. What happened next transformed British fortunes in the desert war. But, asks James Holland, did victory come at too high a price?
Nor was Martin pleased about his role. The Rifle Brigade had been used to independence and mobility, beetling about the desert in trucks. That night, as the battle began, their job was to protect the engineers as they cleared six paths through the minefields. It was through these lanes, each the width of a tennis court, that the mass of armour was due to pour, get in behind the enemy and then exploit their advantage.
Broadly, this was what happened, although inevitably there were twists and turns and setbacks, not least on the opening night. Pouring masses of armour through six lanes, each only 8 yards wide, was ambitious, especially in the north where the desert soil was fine sand. The tracks of hundreds of tanks, tow-to-tail, quickly ground the sand as fine as talcum powder, which combined with immense amounts of smoke to cloak the battlefield. Corporal Albert Martin had little idea of what was going on and was soon caked in choking dust and could see little. Nor could the tanks, which began crashing into one another and over-heating.
Montgomery never asked his advice before the second battle of Alamein, but Tuker was firmly of the view that it made sense to strike a heavy blow with infantry, supported by artillery on a narrow front in the north, around a feature or ridge that meant the Panzerarmee simply had to counterattack. The key, he reckoned, was to draw in the bulk of the Axis armour in the north.
By: Kolin Bothun. The battle of el alamein. El Alamein is a small railroad town near the coast of Egypt The battle took place in between El Alamein and a bowl like area called the Qattara Depression This battle front stretched over 40 miles
El Alamein is a small railroad town near the coast of Egypt The battle took place in between El Alamein and a bowl like area called the Qattara Depression This battle front stretched over 40 miles Barbed wire and landmines were laid over the 40 mile front El Alamein was the last obstacle between the Germans and Cairo The Battleground
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