Saturday, June 18, 2005
The Western Desert
The area where the combatants moved and fought in 1940 would become known as the Western Desert. The Western Desert actually refers to the Western Desert of Egypt, but the British forces came to call the entire area on either side of "The Wire" as the Western Desert. "The Wire" was what the British forces called the Italian-erected triple barbed wire fence that marked the border between Egypt and Libya. From the sea to the Libyan plateau, the land rose to 500ft above sealevel. The rise was called the escarpment, as it was a rough stretch that restricted movement from the shore to the plateau. The terrain is covered by a thin layer of "clay or fine sand" over "limestone rock". The land is very rocky, which could make travel difficult. What water there was could be "found in deep wells and those cisterns known in service Arabic as 'birs', which date from Roman times". This is based on the account in Vol.I of the Official History, and the quotes are from page 115.