*Discusses both the First and Second Battle of El Alamein.
*Includes accounts of the fighting by soldiers and important generals.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
“The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns.” – Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips
"It may almost be said, ‘Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.’" - Winston Churchill
The United States began 1942 determined to avenge Pearl Harbor, but the Allies, now including the Soviet Union by necessity, did not agree on war strategy. In 1941, both the Germans and British had moved armies into North Africa, where Italy had already tried and failed to reach the Suez Canal, and the British sought American help in North Africa, where British General Bernard Montgomery was fighting the legendary “Desert Fox,” General Erwin Rommel. At the same time, Stalin was desperate for Allied action on the European continent that could free up the pressure on the besieged Soviets. Roosevelt eventually sided with Churchill and decided to land American forces on North Africa to assist the British against Rommel, much to Stalin’s chagrin.
With the Axis forces trying to push through Egypt towards the Suez Canal and the British Mandate of Palestine, American forces landed to their west in North Africa, which ultimately compelled Rommel to try to break through before the Allies could build up and overwhelm them with superior numbers. Given that the combined Allied forces under Montgomery already had an advantage in manpower, Montgomery also wanted to be aggressive, and the fighting would start in late October 1942 with an Allied attack.
At Alamein, 195,000 troops in 11 divisions faced off against 50,000 Germans (four divisions) and 54,000 Italians (eight divisions), where they were able to use their superior numbers and weapons to defeat the Axis troops. Over the next few weeks, the Allies made steady progress and forced Rommel to conduct a fighting retreat to safety until his army linked up with another Axis army in Tunisia, but the fighting at the end of 1942 inevitably compelled all Axis forces to quit the theater, the first time since the beginning of the war that Africa was safe for the Allies.
The Second Battle of El Alamein was a turning point in the two-year conflict between Allied forces and a combined German-Italian force in North Africa. While the scale of the battle paled in comparison to the battles of the Eastern Front, where the majority of German troops were concentrated, it still marked an important victory in World War II, especially from the British perspective. The British, who had suffered through three years of war in which they seemed to teeter on the brink of defeat, were able to hang their hats on the victory, reviving the nation’s morale and reaffirming its military might.
The Greatest Battles in History: The Battle of El Alamein comprehensively covers the entire military situation that led up to the two battles of El Alamein, analyzes the decisions made by the battles’ most important leaders, and explains the aftermath of the Allied victory. Along with a bibliography and pictures of important people and places, you will learn about El Alamein like never before, in no time at all.