Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The 9th Australian Division move to Egypt in late June 1942

The 26th Brigade had left for Egypt on 26 June 1942. They traveled in vehicles, going by way of "Homs, Baalbek, Rayak, Tiberias, Tulkarm, Gaza, across teh Sinai Desert to the Canal and Cairo". The initial orders had been that the 9th Australian Division would defend Cairo, but the orders were changed. The division-level units, such as the headquarters, followed the "coast road" and went across the "Sinai Desert". They arrived at "Amiriya at about the same time as the 26th Brigade". The 24th Brigade left a day later and traveled to Tiberias. A road party continued to follow the way that the 26th Brigade had taken, but most were sent to Haifa where they traveled Alexandria by train. They arrived on 1 July in the afternoon.
The 20th brigade had to wait until the 17th Indian Brigade arrived to relieve them. The 2/15th Battalion went to Tripoli where the battalion commander became the fortress commander. A change again late on 29 June ordered the 20th Brigade not to wait but to travel to Egypt, starting early on 30 June. The 9th Divisional Cavalry left Latakia on 30 June as well. They headed for Egypt.
The Australians were glad to leave Syria where they had been the garrison. 9th Army and "British line-of-communications organizations" had organized the move out of Syria.
At El Alamein on 30 June 1942, the enemy was pushing against the position. This was the last defended position "west of the Nile Delta". There was a thirty mile gap between teh sea and teh Qattara Depression. The work at El Alamein had started as long ago as before the Crusader battle. Positions were dug, mines were laid as was barbed wire. While the men worked, the remnants of the 8th Army drove past them in retreat.
At El Alamein were defended locations. In the parlance of the time, they were called "boxes", as they were designed for "all-around" defense. The best box surrounded the train station and then south, containing the road and across some desert land. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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