Fandom

World War II Wiki

Second Battle of El Alamein

1,455pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk1 Share

The Second Battle of El Alamein took place from 23 October to 5 November 1942, near the El Alamein train station almost by the sea, and the great, impassable Quattara Depression to the south. General Bernard Montgomery commanded the British Eighth Army and General Erwin Rommel commanded the Italo-German Panzerarmee Afrika during this battle.

Erwin Rommel's Panzerarmee Afrika had been pushing ever westward across the North African front, fighting his way closer to the Suez Canal and the oil-rich fields of Egypt. Italian "battleship convoys" under Admiral Angelo Iachino, intercepted Allied signals from the Italian Military Information Service (Servizio Informazione Militare or SIM) [3],and the resulting Axis victories at Gazala, Tobruk, Mersa Matruh and Fuka had given Rommel the opportunity in reaching the Suez Canal. Unfortunately for Rommel, this important source of intelligence from the regulars reports to Washington from US military attache in Cairo, Colonel Bonner Fellers, stopped a week after the fall of Tobruk [4]. Rommel had tried to overrun the opposing British Commonwealth forces during the Battle of Alam el Halfa, before they could build up overwhelming strength, but this had failed. The scenario was quickly set for what would prove be a decisive Allied victory in Egypt, that would push the Axis forces across Egypt and into Tunisia.

Prelude

Rommel's advance stalled at the Battle of Alem el Halfa. Rommel knew that a new major allied offensive against the Afrika Korps was unavoidable and his divisional commanders prepared for it. Now longer benefiting from intercepted British signals and lacking fuel, armour and fighter cover, Rommel had no choice but to order his divisions to dig in and fortify their positions with extensive minefields and medium and heavy anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns.

General Claude Auchinleck had been in command of the British 8th Army and its supporting units in North Africa, but in early August he was relieved and replaced with Lieutenant-General William Gott, who was killed before taking command when the transport plane he was travelling in was shot down by Luftwaffe fighters. Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery became Eighth Army commander and he quickly set up a defensive line outside the port town of El Alamein in Egypt. He knew that Rommel's men were tired, sick, and running desperately low on fuel - all he had to do was hold his ground and build up his tank force before counterattacking and completely overrunning Rommel's armour.

Faced with an overextended supply line and lack of armour, yet well aware of massive Allied reinforcements in men and material, Rommel decided to strike first while Montgomery's build-up was still not complete. The two armoured divisions of the Afrika Korps and a force made of the reconnaissance units of Panzer Armee Afrika and the Bologna Division spearheaded the attack, but on 30 August 1942 the Allies halted them in the fighting known as the Battle of Alam el Halfa.

Rommel left North Africa in September for health reasons and was replaced by General Georg von Stumme, recently arrived from the Russian front. That month, the Afrika Korps only received 16,200 tons of supplies (54 percent of its requirements) and rations had to be reduced.

Battle

Operation Lightfoot

British 25 pounder firing at night, Second Battle of El Alamein, October 23, 1942

A British 25-Pounder artillery piece firing during a night barrage, October 23, 1942

Under a full moon the night of 23 October, 1942, Montgomery began a mass bombardment of the Axis defences at 9.40 pm, destroying the Italian 62nd Regiment and communications in the Afrika Korps[5],

and the four infantry divisions from XXX Corps advanced across the "Devil's Garden", with engineers clearing a path for the tanks from X Corps. As the mines were cleared, 500 Allied tanks began to press forward in support of the infantry.

The initial attack on Rommel's main lines was assisted by diversionary attacks further south from the 7th Armoured Division and Free French Brigade. The diversionary attack was unable to exploit any weaknesses, meeting determined resistance from the German Ramcke and Italian Folgore paratroop brigades. The German defences reached breaking point before dawn and General von Stumme died of a heart attack after his vehicle came under anti-tank and machinegun fire while conducting a reconnaissance close to the British lines. On the morning of 24 October, General Ritter von Thoma assumed command, and immediately ordered panzer units to counterattack the British 1st Highland Division.

Thee 44th and 50th divisions achieved limited gains attacking the northern defences and at heavy cost, against determined defenders from the Pavia and Brescia divisions. The Indian 4th Infantry Division also met determined opposition from the Italian Bologna Division in the centre.

Throughout 24 October, the British artillery continued bombarding the Afrika Korps' forward defences and the Desert Air Force carried out 1,000 missions in support of the Allied infantry. By 4:00 p.m. the Allied attacks had been largely contained, at at dusk the 15th Panzer Division and General Gervasio Bittosi's Littorio Divisions counterattacked the British 1st Armoured Division near Kidney Ridge. Over 100 tanks were involved in this tank battle that ended in a stalemate, with half reportedly destroyed.

Montgomery's forces had penetrated the Axis minefields, making a six mile (10 km) wide and five mile (8 km) deep advance. They had captured Miteiriya Ridge in the southeast, but Rommel's forces were firmly entrenched in most of their original battle positions and the initial battle had ended in a standstill. Hence, Montgomery ordered an end to the diversionary attack in the south (releasing 7th Armoured Division to move north to reinforce X Corps) and the abandonment of Miteiriya Ridge. He would now be concentrated on taking Kidney Ridge and and Tel el Eisa until a breakthrough occurred. But the German and Italian divisions would continue to fight coherently for another week.

On 25 October, the 15th Panzer and Littorio divisions attacked, hoping to exploit any weaknesses in the Allied defences but were unsuccessful. When the sun set the Allied infantry counterattacked. Around midnight, the 51st Division launched three failed attacks, losing over 500 Allied troops in the process.

While the 51st Highland Division was fighting around Kidney Ridge, the Australians were attacking Tel el Eisa, in an attempt to surround the Axis stronghold containing the German 164th Light Division supported by large numbers of Italian infantry. The Australian 26 Brigade attacked at midnight, supported by the Desert Air Force that dropped 115 tons of bombs, and the Allies took the position and 240 prisoners Fighting continued in this area for the next week as the Axis tried to recover Tel el Eisa that was so vital to their defence.

On 25 October, Rommel returned to North Africa and immediately assessed the battle. He found that the Italian Trento Division had lost half its infantry, 164th Light Division had lost two battalions, most other groups were under strength, all men were on half rations, a large number were sick, and the entire Axis army had only enough fuel for three days.

Churchill Mk III tanks of 'King Force' advance during the Second Battle of El Alamein, November 5, 1942

Churchill Mk III tanks of 'King Force' advance during the Second Battle of El Alamein, November 5, 1942

The Allied offensive had stalled and Churchill complained, "Is it really impossible to find a general who can win a battle?" Another Axis counterattack was organized and began moving at 3 p.m. against Tel el Eisa. Rommel was convinced by this time that the main assault would be in the north and was determined to retake Point 29, moving all his tanks there from around the Kidney feature. Air and ground support concentrated into the area as Rommel moved the 21st Panzer and Ariete Divisions up from the south along the Rahman Track. This turned out to be a costly move for the Axis. The British held the position and Rommel's troops lacked fuel to withdraw, and were therefore caught out in the open and subjected to air attacks.

On the night of 25/26 October, Private Percy Gratwick from the Australian 2nd/48th (26th Brigade) was killed attacking a German machine-gun pit on Miteiriya Ridge, being eventually killed by a second machine-gun team. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

To Montgomery's dismay, the British failed to take advantage and secure Kidney Ridge after the withdrawal of the panzers . Each time the British infantry tried to move forward, they were stopped by anti-tank guns. That day, however, RAF Beaufort torpedo bombers from Nos. 42 and. 47 Squadrons sank the tanker Proserpina outside Tobruk, denying Rommel the chance of refuelling his armoured and supporting fighter units.

By this time, the main battle was concentrated near Kidney Ridge. A battlegroup comprising the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Rifle Brigade, G and H Troops from the 1st Armoured Division, with 239 Anti-Tank Battery, Royal Artillery in support at a position codenamed Snipe.

Mortar and shell fire was constant all day long. Around 4 p.m. British tanks accidentally opened fire against their own position causing casualties. At 5 p.m. Rommel launched his major attack. German tanks moved forward. The British 239th Battery was able to destroy or damage over 50 tanks from the 21st Panzer Division. During the final part of the action, only one officer and a sergeant were left to contest the panzers, so Lieutenant-Colonel Victor Buller Turner, the commanding officer of a battalion from the 2nd Rifle Brigade joined them as a loader, and between them they were able to hit and destroy five tanks. The Germans gave up on this assault and the British battlegroup was withdrawn that evening. Lieutenant-Colonel Turner was awarded the Victoria Cross. He would later explain that solid training in the battalon, had prevented the Germans from overrunning the British forces defending Snipe:

It's therefore extremely important that in peace time you should get the drill, as it were, of conducting a battle, or exercises so that when it actually comes to fighting [and] you are enmeshed in the fog of war, your actions are so automatic that you can adapt yourself to the unexpected and carry on without losing your head.[6]

On the night of 27/28 October, the Australians advanced beyond Tel el Eisa, to an Axis strongpoint south of the railway nicknamed "Thompson's Post", hoping to to force a breakthrough along the coastal road. The German 125th Regiment and Italian reinforcements in the form of a small battalion from the 7th Bersaglieri Regiment, were attacked by Australian soldiers riding on Valentine tanks from the 46th Royal Tank Regiment. Mines and anti-tank guns soon halted the attackers, with the Australians reporting 200 casualties in the night fighting. The Italian anti-tank gunners stood firm and all were reported killed in the fighting or died as a result of their wounds, except for 20 wounded men who were captured the following morning. For this and other actions, Rommel would dedicate a plaque in memory of the Bersaglieri that fought at Alamein:

The German soldier has impressed the world. However the Italian Bersaglieri soldier has impressed the German soldier.
By the end of the day, Montgomery still had 800 operational tanks, while Rommel had 148 German and 187 Italian tanks. With the tanker Luisiano sunk outside Tobruk harbor, Rommel told his commanders, "It will be quite impossible for us to disengage from the enemy. There is no gasoline for such a manoeuvre. We have only one choice and that is to fight to the end at Alamein."

On the night of 30/31 October, the Australians launched their third attack to reach the paved road and were successful. In the fierce night combat, Sergeant William Henry Kibby from the Australian 2nd/48th Battalion is killed assaulting a machine-gun post with hand-grenades, winning a posthumous Victoria Cross.[7]

Vehicles of Panzerjäger-Abteilung 39 moving through the desert, 1942

Vehicles of Panzerjäger-Abteilung 39 moving through the desert, 1942

On 31 October, Rommel launched four counterattacks attacks against "Thompson's Post". The fighting was intense and often hand to hand, but no ground was gained by the Axis forces. On Sunday 1 November, Rommel tried again to dislodge the Australians, but the fierce fighting resulted in nothing but lost men and equipment. By now it had become obvious to Rommel that the battle was lost. He began to plan the Afrika Korps retreat to Fuka, some 50 miles (80 km) west. Ironically, large amounts of fuel arrived at Benghazi after the Germans had started to retreat.

Operation Supercharge

More Info: Operation Supercharge (Second Battle of El Alamein)

On the night of 1/2 November, Montgomery launched a new attack along the Rahman Track, aimed at taking Tel el Aqqaqir, where Rommel had dug in several German 88 mm and Italian 90 mm anti-aircraft guns. The attack started with a seven-hour aerial bombardment focused on the heavy guns on Tel el Aqqaqir and Sidi Abd el Rahman. This air attack was followed by an intense four-and-a-half hour bombardment from 360 guns, firing 15,000 shells. The initial attacks of Supercharge was to be carried out by the 151st Durham and 152nd Seaforth and Camerons Brigades, supported by the British 9th Armoured Brigade, all under the command of General Bernard Freyberg. Also taking part, would be the 133rd Royal Sussex Brigade and 23rd Armoured Brigade, minus the 40th and 46th Royal Tank Regiments. General Freyberg, had tried to free his division from taking part, as the New Zealanders were under strength and had lost a brigade. The New Zealand contribution to Supercharge would be the 5th Brigade with the 28th (Maori) Battalion attached to the 151st Brigade.

The infantry gained most of their objectives, overrunning two German infantry battalions from the 115th and 155th Grenadier Regiments, but one Bersaglieri battalion from Colonel Gaetano Amoroso's 12th Bersaglieri Regiment held firm.[8]Brigadier Currie's 9th Armoured Brigade started its advance at 8 pm from El Alamein railway station with around 130 tanks. The brigade arrived at its start-line with only 94 tanks, due to minefields.

The brigade was to have started its attack towards Tel el Aqqaqir at 5.45 am. However, the attack was postponed for 30 minutes while the brigade regrouped on Currie's orders. In the meantime, the Axis commanders were giving out urgent orders to reinforce Aqqaqir ridge position with German and captured Russian heavy anti-tank guns.[9]At 6.15 am, half an hour before dawn, the three armoured regiments of the brigade advanced towards Rommel's anti-tank screen.

However, the Bersaglieri battalion, manning 47mm anti-tank guns, opened fire at point-blank range[10][11][12]destroying several British tanks. They were supported by the Italian heavy anti-aircraft guns (similar to the German 88mm guns)[13][14]and field guns from the Littorio that had survived the fierce nocturnal bombardment.[15]German and Italian tanks[16], which penetrated between the Warwickshire Yeomanry and Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, also played an important part, in forcing General Freyberg to abandon the attack. Brigadier Currie lost 75 of his 94 tanks, and 230 of his 400 men. The New Zealand infantry attacks in the north had also failed, with German counterattacks halting the advance of the 5th Brigade .

Nevertheless, General Bitossi reported 35 anti-tank guns and several tanks lost defending Aqqaqir, including the commanding officer of the Littorio armoured battalion wounded[17], and Captain Vittorio Bulgarelli killed leading tanks from the Trieste[18]in the desperate armoured counterattack. That evening, with the Afrika Korps reduced to 35 serviceable tanks, Rommel concluded "that our final destruction was upon us."

Rommel's Retreat

Erwin Rommel had sent a message to Hitler explaining his untenable position, seeking permission to withdraw, but at 1.30 pm on 3 November he was told to fight till the end . Von Thoma, who had been promoted to Lieutenant-General on 1 November, told him, "I've just been around the battlefield. 15th Panzer's got ten tanks left, 21st Panzer only fourteen and Littorio seventeen." Rommel read him the Führer Order, and von Thoma left to assume command of the remaining panzers.

When 150 tanks from the British 1st and 10th Armoured Divisions attacked the remnants from the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions, Von Thoma directed the defence, initially halting the attacking columns. He was in the command tank and remained in the battlefield until the last panzer was destroyed. Before his capture,, Von Thoma contemplated the destruction beside his burning tank at the spot that was to become known as the "panzer graveyard".

A 12 miles-wide (19 km) hole had been cut in the Axis line. Rommel ordered the massive retreat against Hitler's orders. Due to insufficient fuel and transportation, the great bulk of the Italian infantry divisions were abandoned, with some German units forced to commandeer Italian trucks at gunpoint. [19]

On 4 November, the final Allied attacks were made. The British 1st, 7th and 10th Armoured Divisions (under Major-General Gatehouse) passed through the Axis lines, and towards Fuka. The Germans were in full retreat. This day saw the destruction of the Ariete and Littorio Armoured Divisions, and the Bologna and Trieste Motorised Division.[20]The Ariete (under General Francesco Arena) and Littorio fought well at El Alamein, effectively derailing Montgomery's plans to encircle and completely destroy the Afrika Korps. The German Army High Command claimed that in their sector the "British were made to pay for their penetration with enormous losses in men and material. The Italians fought to the last man."[21]Private Sid Martindale from the 1st Battalion, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, recalled the carnage inflicted in the Bologna Infantry Division:

The more we advanced the more we realized that the Italians did not have much fight on them after putting up a strong resistance to our overwhelming advance and they started surrendering to our lead troops in droves. There was not much action to see but we came across lots of burnt out Italian tanks that had been destroyed by our tanks. I had never seen a battlefield before and the site of so many dead was sickening.
It was reported that Colonel Dall'Olio, the acting commanding of the remnants of the Bologna Divison, surrendered saying, "We have ceased firing not because we haven't the desire but because we have spent every round." [22]In a symbolic act of final defiance no one in the Bologna raised their hands.

War Correspondent Harry Zinder from Time magazine noted that the Italians fought better than had been expected, and covered the retreat:

It was a terrific letdown by their German allies. They had fought a good fight. In the south, the famed Folgore parachute division fought to the last round of ammunition. Two armoured divisions and a motorised division, which had been interspersed among the German formations, thought they would be allowed to retire gracefully with Rommel's 21st, 15th and 90th Liight. But even that was denied them. When it became obvious to Rommel that there would be little chance to hold anything between El Daba and the frontier, his Panzers dissolved, disintegrated and turned tail, leaving the Italians to fight a rear-guard action.[23]

The German paratroop brigade under General Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke was cut off in the southern desert; undeterred the Fallschirmjäger force marched 80 miles to catch up with Rommel, in the process capturing a British motorized column and freeing some 100 Axis prisoners. For this achievement, Ramcke was awarded the Oaks Leaves to his Knight's Cross and promoted to Generalleutnant.[24]

Aftermath

The Allied victory was all but complete. The British casualties were 13,560 killed and wounded, 332–500 tanks, 111 guns and ninety-seven aircraft lost. The Germans and Italians suffered 30,542 killed, wounded and captured, with 500 tanks, 254 guns and eighty-four aircraft lost. Fritz Bayerlein reported German losses in the battle as 1,100 killed, 3,900 wounded and 7,900 prisoners, and Italian losses as 1,200 killed, 1,600 wounded and 20,000 prisoners. Axis casualties of over 30,000 amounted to over 30% of their total force.

Allied casualties were by comparison a remarkably small proportion of their total force. The effective strength of Panzer Armee Afrika after the battle amounted to some 5,000 troops, 20 tanks, 20 anti-tank guns and 50 field guns. But Montgomery immediate exploitation of his advantage was poor because of exhaustion among his troops.[25]They were taken by surprise by Rommel's withdrawal, and this combined with confusion caused by reorganization of depleted armoured units and fear of hidden rearguard anti-tank defences, meant that the British armoured divisions were slow in pursuit, failing to cut off Rommel first at Fuka and then Mersa Matruh.

References

  1. "He attacked the El Alamein lines on 23 October, with 230,000 men to 80,000 (27,000 Germans), 1,440 tanks to 540 (260 German) and 1,500 aircraft to 350." Hitler, Norman Stone, A&C Black, 2013
  2. "He attacked the El Alamein lines on 23 October, with 230,000 men to 80,000 (27,000 Germans), 1,440 tanks to 540 (260 German) and 1,500 aircraft to 350." Hitler, Norman Stone, A&C Black, 2013
  3. "The Afrika Korps ... received a priceless cryptological gift, for which it was indebted to Loris Gherardi, an obscure Italian messenger, and the Italian Military Information Service (Servizio Informazione Militare, or SIM) ...Gherardi, an embassy employee for two decades, was doubling as an agent for SIM. One of his duties for two decades, was doubling as an agent for SIM. One of his duties was to carry enciphered telegrams from the embassy to the Italian telegraph bureau. Copies were made available to SIM, but they were no help without knowledge of the American cryptosystem. Gherardi solved that problem by gaining access to the military attache's safe." Stealing Secrets, Telling Lies: How Spies and Codebreakers Helped Shape the Twentieth Century, James Gannon, Potomac Books, Inc., 2001
  4. "...an important source of enemy intelligence was no longer available after June 29, the day Marsa Matruh was stormed. After that day, the American military attache in Cairo had stopped transmitting the radio messages that had been decrypted and had provided invalulable information about British strategy and tactics, since 1941." Nazi Palestine, Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Martin Cüppers, Krista Smith, Enigma Books, 2013
  5. "It virtually destroyed the 62nd Italian Infantry Regiment, and it disabled almost completely the communications in the army." Churchill and the Montgomery Myth, R. W. Thompson, Page 139, Rowman & Littlefield, Apr 25, 2014
  6. The Combat Soldier: Infantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, Arthur King, p. 154, OUP Oxford, 2013
  7. Sergeant William Henry Kibby
  8. "Already at midnight on 2 November, the air bombardment suggested a new offensive was about to start and the headquarters of Panzer Army Africa issued its own order: all the positions were to be held no matter what, not an inch of terrain was to be surrendered without a hard fight ... one battalion of 90th Light Division in the north, along with another one of 15th Panzer Division in the south, were soon overrun and at 4.45am it was reported that only one Italian Bersaglieri Infantry Battalion was still holding the line ... A little while later, the tanks of 9th Armoured Brigade arrived, immediately attacking the enemy positions along the Rahman track ... with its three battalions deployed as follows from north to south: 3rd Hussars, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and Warwickshire Yeomanry, supported by the anti-tank guns of 14th Sherwood Foresters. Battle Story: El Alamein 1942, Pier Paolo Battistelli, The History Press, 2011
  9. "As the infantry were attacking on the night of 1 November, Vaux was with the Poles in the intercept truck. German radio security was breaking down in panic as every available 88mm and Russian 75mm anti-tank guns was ordered to line and dig in on the Aqqaqir ridge." End of the Beginning, Phil Craig, Tim Clayton, Hachette, 2012
  10. "Major Eveleigh's own tank was hit and set ablaze at point blank range by a troop of Italian 47mm guns. He bailed out with his turret crew, until the armour plate became too hot to touch, desperately struggled to free the jammed hatches of his driver and co-driver, to no avail. Aware that the Italian gunners were shooting at his gunner and operator with small arms, he emptied his revolver at them. At this point Lieutenant Charles Dorman, one of his troop leaders, seeing what was happening, attacked the Italians from a flank and wiped them out. The rest of the regiment had now come up and become heavily engaged in a series of personal close-quarter duels with the numerous gun positions ... During this phase of the action the regiment accounted for fifteen anti-tank guns, four field guns and five tanks, but by 0710 it had itself been reduced to seven tanks while only four of its officers remained alive and unwounded." (Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare, Bryan Perrett, Hachette, 2012
  11. "The Italian gunners proved especially effective as daylight broke and they opened fire from ranges as little as 20 yards. The consequences were predictable and destructive. In a matter of hours the 9th Armoured Brigade lost 70 of of it's compliment of 94 tanks." Battlefield Documentary Alamein, Dave Flitton, 2001
  12. "Italian antitank guns fired on British tanks at a range of 20 yards and General Freyberg's 9th Armoured Brigade was reported to have lost 70 out of the 94 tanks it had started with." Incredible Facts, Richard B. Manchester, p. 291, Riverside World Publishing Company, 1994
  13. The new (Littorio) division had a smaller compliment of 6,500 officers and men, but it had additional firepower: twelve more 105mm artillery pieces, eight brand new 90mm AA guns - the Italian equivalent of the German 88mm and just as deadly in an anti-tank role, twenty-six more 20mm AA guns, and twenty-four new Semoventi (Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa, Ian W. Walker, Crowood, 2012
  14. "Some of the credit given to the “eighty-eights” as a deadly long-range tank-killer in North Africa actually goes to the superficially similar Italian cannone da 90/53. This 90mm antiaircraft gun was one of the better Italian weapons ... over 500 produced between 1941 and 1943 ..." The Big Book of Gun Trivia, Gordon L. Rottman, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013
  15. "Gli artiglieri della Littorio dopo nove giorni di strenua lotta difesero ancora stoicamente i pezzi e con il loro sacrificio scrissero una delle più belle pagine di gloria dell'arma." Ferrea Mole Ferreo Cuore, Dino Campini, Soldiershop Publishing, 2015
  16. Pari sorte toccò al XII; il 27 ottobre il battaglione contrattaccò, ripristinando la situazione sull'importante caposaldo di KIDNEY. Il 1° novembre ad est di TELL EL AQQAQIR, ridotto a 7 carri, continuo a contrattaccare; il 2 novembre il XII non esisteva piu. El Alamein I Carri della Littorio, Dino Campini, Soldiershop, 2013
  17. "But the anti-tank screen was almost destroyed, losing 35 guns, while the wounded Littorio tank commander reported that he had lost most of his tanks. The attack was checked and the continuing fight on the following day resulted in the loss for the 8th Army of a total of 200 tanks, but Rommel was at the end of his resources." Rommel's North Africa Campaign, Jack Greene, Alessandro Massignani, p. 224, Da Capo Press, 2007
  18. ITALIAN CEMETERY, EL ALAMEIN, MATRUH, EGYPT
  19. "...it was not uncommon for German troops to arrest Italian truck drivers at gunpoint and take their vehicles in order to flee, abandoning the Italians to outrun Allied tanks. Forgotten Allies, J. Lee Ready, pg. 199, McFarland, 1985
  20. On the morning of 4 November, however, 'a strong armoured force' of the British 7th Armoured Division penetrated the XXIst Corps' position and the Trento and Bologna Divisons gave ground. Germany and the Second World War: Volume 6: The Global War, Horst Boog, Werner Rahn, Reinhard Stumpf, Bernd Wegner, OUP Oxford, 13 Sep. 2001
  21. The Desert War. Primary Sources
  22. Rolling Thunder: A Century of Tank Warfare, Philip Kaplan, pg. 139, Pen and Sword, 2013
  23. Time, Volume 40, Briton Hadden, pg. 31, Time Incorporated, 1942
  24. "Ramcke's brigade was cut off in the southern desert; he led them for 80 miles to catch up with the retreating German army, in the process capturing a British convoy and freeing some 100 Italian and German prisoners. For this achievement he was decorated with the Oak-Leaves on 13 November 1942, and on 21 December he was promoted to Generalleutnant." Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients: 1941-1945, pg. 49, Gordon Williamson, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012
  25. "One of Montgomery's senior staff officers, Sidney Kirkman, later connected the British armour's poor performance in the battle and the disappointment of the pursuit. Recalling how he had found Gatehouse's tanks waiting uncertainly before a single anti-tank gun, he reflected that 'there was no desire to go on .... . they'd had a bad time.' " Alamein: The Australian Story, Mark Johnston, Peter Stanley, pg. 259, Oxford University Press, 2002

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.