Monday, April 01, 2019

14 to 15 July 1942 at El Alamein

Some of the tanks that had been engaged at Point 24 cut across the front of the 2/48th Battalion near the Tel el Eisa rail station. When no one fired on the tanks, they continued on towards Point 26. Field guns opened fire on the tanks and turned west where Australian anti-tank guns fired on the tanks. Nearby infantry also fired on the tanks. Some of the tanks exploded and burnt. The survivors withdrew under fire. The Australians of 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment claimed seven tanks knocked out, four by one gun and three by the other. In the morning, the 1st Army Tank Brigade sent tanks forward to support the Australians. In the light, they counted ten German tanks knocked out!
Rommel had planned an attack on 15 July, but Auchinleck's attack on Ruweisat Ridge caused Rommel to have to reduce what he would do at Tel el Eisa. Auchinleck had planned to break through the enemy forces in the center and wipe out the enemy north of Ruweisat Ridge. He also wanted to destroy the enemy forces that lay to the east from the track from El Alamein-to-Ab Dweis. XXX Corps would capture the eastern portion of Ruweisat Ridge and then attack south and capture Miteiriya Ridge. XIII Corps was also in the plan and was to push to Trig 63 in the west of Ruweisat Ridge and then move to the northwest. Auchinleck decided on 14 July to attack that night. The corps were to achieve their objectives by 4:30am on 15 July. The orders to "XIII Corps and 1st Armoured Division" show that Auchinleck had actually decided on a more limited set of objectives. They realized later that the conferences that were held did not successfully communicate how the cooperation between units was to occur. For example, the New Zealand Division had expected to have close armor support. General Lumsden understood that his armor only needed to come forward when requested. The lack of support by two armored brigades had unfortunate consequences.
The XXX Corps attack was launched by the 5th Indian Brigade. One battalion was held up by fire, while another was pushed back.
2nd New Zealand Division attacked from the XIII Corps area. They had two brigades engaged, the 4th and 5th, They moved forward starting at 11pm. They moved until they encountered minefield. They bypassed enemy positions and kept moving forward. The New Zealand brigades had reached their objectives, but were not in good condition. They expected to have two armored brigades ready to support them and the Indian brigade, but they were instead sitting stopped, in the rear, waiting for orders. Some German tanks had been bypassed, and these attacked the New Zealanders. New Zealand anti-tank guns engaged the tanks, but the New Zaaland Division lost 350 prisoners. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Offiicial History.

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