Monday, May 17, 2010
At the beginning of July 1942 at El Alamein
At the end of June, Rommel could either try to blitz his way through the British positions at El Alamein or he could take time to study the situation. Rommel had so much success against the British with mobile, unscripted operations, he tried another one. The problem was that the British had forces in positions that were a surprise to the Germans. Instead of the 18th Indian Brigade being forward at Deir el Abyad, they were further back on Deir el Shein. The 1st South Africans were at Alam el Onsol, where they were totally unsuspected. The 4th Armoured Brigade and 22nd Armoured Brigade were sitting forward and to the southwest of the South Africans. Rommel intended to send the 90th Light Division and the Afrika Korps through the British positions and then swing up to the coast, cutting off El Alamein. The Italians would attack El Alamein frontally and also follow the mobile German force. Quite quickly, the situation went badly for the Axis forces. The two panzer divisions becamed entangled and confused. The 90th Light Division lost their way and ran into the El Alamein position directly. Instead of moving in the dark, the Germans were only at Deir el Shein at daylight. The DAK commander decided to attack the 18th Indian Brigade, newly arrived from Iraq. The brigade was defeated, but only after hard fighting that saw only two of the three battalions engaged. Their brave defence gave time for the British armour to recover and come into action. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.