Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The 9th Australian Division in the run up to the battle of El Alamein

The 9th Australian Division was being reconfigured prior the battle. They moved the 26th Brigade into the coastal region, replacing the 20th Brigade. The 20th Brigade began training for the battle. Their training was different than what the 26th Brigade had been practicing, because their roles in the battle differed. The training matched so well what they would be expected to do in the battle. The training matched the battle roles so well that the men mentioned that the battle was "just like an exercise".

The Australian 24th Brigade ended up being relieved by a 51st Highland Division brigade. The 24th Brigade was given some rest before the battle. By mid-October, they were back in the line with everyone else. They moved into the coast area, replacing the 26th Brigade. The Australian historian remarks that the brigade was training for their greatest challenge yet in the desert.

The 51st Highland Division rotated its brigades, giving each brigade about one week in the line, in the left-most slot in the line. During the night of 19-20 October, the 51st Highland Division took over command of the most-southern area. They would attack from this position in the battle.

Right before the battle, the 8th Army was organized into corps. XXX Corps had one armored brigade and five infantry divisions, including the 9th Australian Divisions. XIII Corps had one armored division and two infantry divisions. X Corps had three armored divisions, but the 8th Armoured Division was incomplete and was broken up with its units transferred to other divisions. For the battle, the army had greater than 220,000 men, some 900 tanks, and some 900 guns, both field and medium.

The Eighth Army faced an army of "four German and eight Italian divisions. There were the two German armored divisions, two Italian armored divisions, and one motorized division (Trieste). The German infantry was concentrated in the 90th Light Division and the 164th Light Division with the help of the Ramcke Parachute Brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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