1942: Second Fight of El Alamein

What happened to 1942: Second Fight of El Alamein

This battle marked the turning point in the North African project. The only terrific tank battle won by the British Commonwealth forces without direct American involvement. However, an American presence was most felt by 300 Sherman tanks (for a total of 547 tanks) shipped quickly to Egypt from the United States.

Fought from October 23 to November 1942, it pitted the precise and dependable Gen. Bernard Montgomery and his team against those of Erwin Rommel, the cunning Desert Fox. Sadly for the Germans, however, Rommel was exceptionally ill, and he was required to pull away to a German medical facility before the battle broke out. Adding fuel to the fire, his short-term fill in, General Georg von Stumme, died of a cardiovascular disease during the fight. The Germans were also troubled by supply problems, especially fuel lacks. It was a recipe for catastrophe.

Montgomery’s reorganized 8th Army introduced a two-pronged attack. The very first phase, Operation Lightfoot, included a powerful artillery bombardment followed by an infantry attack. During the 2nd phase, the infantry cleared the way for the armored divisions. Rommel, who returned to task in desperation, recognized all was lost and cabled Hitler appropriately. Both the German and British armies lost about 500 tanks, but the Allied soldiers failed to take the effort after the success, permitting the Germans sufficient time for retreat.

However the triumph was protected, prompting Winston Churchill to declare: “This is not the end, it is not even the start of completion. However, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”