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Second Battle of El Alamein

The second Battle of El Alamein is one of those battles that is still being discussed; especially many hypotheses are being built about whether General Rommel would have won over the British. The second Battle of El Alamein was a complex battle, in which, however, it was the outcome of the tank battle that played a decisive role. The Germans had to push the British back beyond the Suez Canal in order to eventually get Middle Eastern oil. General Erwin Rommel’s North African Corps suffered critical losses. Erwin Rommel completely missed both the strategic and tactical initiative; for this reason, the British won the battle.

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First of all, the British troops had a significant advantage over the Germans in a decisive tank battle. Erwin Rommel’s Desert Fox had a little more than 500 tanks, half of which consisted of outdated and easily destroyed Italian models (Hanson 2018). The English General Montgomery had twice as many tanks, among which were such well-known models as Grant and Sherman. Thus, on the side of the British there was complete superiority in technology, and on the side of the Germans was the legendary Rommel.

However, in this battle, the general made a strategic mistake: contrary to his custom of gathering tank forces into a fist, this time he distributed them along the front. At the forefront of the German-Italian tank army were 5 Italian divisions, one German division and a German parachute brigade (Landrum 2021). In the second echelon were located: in the south – German and Italian tank divisions, in the north – German and Italian tank and two motorized divisions, which were supposed to be used to localize enemy breakthroughs. The second echelon was located very close to the first echelon. Rommel intended to bring it into battle even before the enemy would introduce his second echelon into the breakthrough; however, the general’s plan was not carried out, and his opponents won.

Simultaneously with the concentration of troops by the British, a large-scale operation was organized to disinform the enemy, which was called “Operation Bertram”. Large false warehouses were created behind the right flank of the British troops, which were filled with empty boxes (Simonetti and Armocida 2020). At first, the Germans considered this a sign of an impending offensive, but after a while, since there was no offensive, they began to consider the warehouses a deceptive maneuver.

However, during the preparation of the real offensive, empty boxes were replaced by full ones at night, and thus, by the beginning of the battle, actual warehouses were created. In turn, on the southern flank, the British began to build a false oil pipeline. Its construction had a double effect: deceiving the enemy about the place and time of the proposed battle (it was believed that the battle would not begin until the end of construction).

By the end of the long battle, despite losses exceeding 500 tanks, Montgomery was able to break through the front of Rommel’s German-Italian tank army. The retreat of the German-Italian tank army became unstoppable. Rommel wanted to organize a defense at the Fouquet line, but the remaining forces were not enough for this. The British victory at El Alamein was the first significant success of British troops in the North African Campaign of 1940-1943. The German troops were defeated because of the advantage in the enemy’s equipment, but mostly because of the strategic and tactical mistakes of General Rommel, who did not identify the disinformation company and made the wrong decision during the battle.

References

Hanson, Davis. 2018. ” The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.” International Affairs 94 (4): 928-929.

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Landrum, Nathan. 2021. ” The First Battle of El Alamein.” Bound Away: The Liberty Journal of History 4 (3): 1-26.

Simonetti, Omar, and Emanuele Armocida. 2020. “El Alamein: The Battle in The Battle. How Infectious Disease Management Changed the Fate of One of The Most Important Battle of The World War II.” Le Infezioni in Medicina 3 (27): 441-449.

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