Sunday, April 10, 2005

The First Battle of El Alamein

The First Battle of El Alamein ended German chances of victory in North Africa. From that point forward, the British forces, with their Commonwealth allies, were ascendent. Correlli Barnett, in The Desert Generals, wrote that on 17 July 1942, the turning point had been reached. The battle actually lasted longer than that, as the preliminary phase started in early July and continued until late July. British (including Commonwealth) infantry attacked South from El Alamein and systematically rolled up the Italians. There were insufficient German forces to really affect the issue, although Rommel used all that he had. The irony is, that after General Auchinleck, and his staff officer, Major General Eric Dorman-Smith, won the First Battle of El Alamein, they were replaced, as Churchill needed to shore up his political position. General Auchinleck had his problems. He seems to have made abominally bad choices for his field commanders. On the other hand, Churchill wanted to see Auchinleck be the field commander, as he recognized just how good Auchinleck was. That was difficult, when General Auchinleck was also theater commander, with wide-flung responsibilities. Auchinleck was replaced by two pedestrian, but reliable, commanders: Harold Alexander as theater commander and Bernard Law Montgomery as field commander.

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