Monday, May 20, 2019

The Germans counter-attack the Australians on 22 July 1942 at El Alamein

The Germans attacked East Point 24 at about 8am on 22 July 1942. The position was occupied by companies of the 2/23rd Battalion. There was a company on the left and one on the right. The left company was threatened, but was able to hold on for three hours. At least one part of the right company was able to keep the enemy back. The battalion commander sent his second-in-command forward in a carrier. He was to inform the the Australians at East Point 24 to hold on, as he was sending his other company (A) forward to provide support. However, the situation changed when the 2/23rd commander learned that the 2/24th Battalion was "withdrawing from the Ring Contour". That left A Company of the 2/23rd Battalion in an exposed position. A Company had started forward at 8:30am. While the situation deteriorated greatly, a Corporal in control of a carrier did a commendable job (he was Corporal McCloskey). The Corporal was originally sent to carry "a mortar detachment forward". After he transported the mortar detachment, he went back to get ammunition. As he traveled, he "stopped to pick up wounded men". He then took the mortar bombs to the mortar detachment. He realized that communications were poor, so he traveled between the companies to contact company commanders. He carried wounded men back to the rear. His carrier was hit and damaged. He was knocked out but recovered consciousness and repaired his carrier and continued to do useful things.

A man from the company on the right was able to reach the battalion headquarters to inform Lt-Col. Evans that the men of the company were pinned down by enemy fire. The company commander had been killed and "the other officers and half the company were casualties". The battalion commander ordered a smoke screen laid down, and some 30 men were able to escape. The acting company commander had been wounded and couldn't walk. He was rescued by a patrol after dark.

The battalion had lost touch with the left 2/23rd Battalion company. They were able to hold their ground until 11am. The company was essentially eliminated, but A Company from the 2/23rd Battalion had arrived and was keeping the Germans back from East Point 24. Lt-Col. Evans of the 2/23rd got 80 men together to the "positions between Trig 33 and Tel el Eisa". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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