Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Second El Alamein starting on 23 October 1942

Starting in late afternoon on 23 October 1942, vehicles rolled out from under their camouflage nets and started line up in their assigned positions. From the front to the east, you saw for about thirty miles behind the front lines, vehicles driving east to get into their places. The way the system worked, you saw parallel lines of traffic, so allow for the mass movement that was needed. As the sun was setting, you had the infantry divisions moving into their assigned places. From "right to left" you had the 9th Australian Division, the 51st Highland Division, the 2nd New Zealand Division, 1st South African Division, and the 4th Indian Division (an old North African veteran). Following the infantry divisions were the 1st Armoured Division and the 10th Armoured Division. Supporting artillery units included the 1st RHA and the 104th RHA. Towards the south you had the 50th Division and the 44th Division. You also had a Greek Brigade and then the 7th Armoured Division. The 1st Free French Brigade was to their left. That night there was a large moon, almost full. As it became dark, they served food to the men in front. tapes were put in place to show the line that they would follow. As the transport had moved into place, you lost the road noise that they had previously heard. Everything became quiet, as the men waited for the time to move forward. Soon, the men could hear the sound of aircraft approaching from the east. They were British bombers. soon, you could see the flashes of the "long-range guns" firing. At 9:40pm, there was a great sound of field artillery firing. Soon, the artillery fire from guns firing "rapidly" and in large numbers could be heard.

The infantry moving forward were heavily loaded with ammunition and some grenades. They had food, pick or shovel, and four sand bags. They had to carry all that and still be ready to fight. The men quickly took their initial objectives, but they were surprised by the effort required to clear mines. On the far right of the attack was the 2/24th Battalion. They found that they were taking 25pdr rounds that were falling short. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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