Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Sorting things out in the push to Ruin Ridge on 22 July 1942 at El Alamein

The authorities determined that, yes, the advance towards Ruin Ridge had stopped far short of the objective. The 50th RTR was new to battle and they had a hard time, having lost some 23 tanks in the fight. They infantry had told them that they had gone too far forward, which seems to have not to be true. The brigade commander, Brigadier Godfrey went forward with Brigadier Richards to the 2/28th Battalion. He ordered them to spread out to the sides, put out patrols and make contact with the 2/32nd Battalion. They also were to advance as far as they could. They did manage to contact the 2/32nd Battalion by 9:23am. They may have been disappointed with their progress, but the enemy was forced to move the 90th Light Division and parts of three Italian divisions to hold their left flank. The Australians had apparently captured almost a entire company of the I/155th Battalion. Tanks from the 21st Armored Division were called upon to attack the Australians and their tank support. They accounted for 23 tanks with 12 of that number knocked out by the Briehl Group (a battle group). The Australian historian called Auchinleck's attack, "costly and abortive". Auchinleck was concerned that the enemy was being reinforced and would be tougher to fight if they waited longer. The Australians were the most effective unit available to Auchinleck. He wanted to attack some more as soon as an attack could be mounted.

The new attack would be by XXX Corps with the 1st Armoured Division, short of one armored brigade, the 4th Light Armoured Brigade, and the 69th Infantry Brigade. The 1st South African Division would go after the enemy mine field south-east pf Miteiriyha Ridge. They would make a gap. The 24th Australian Brigade would attack the eastern end of the ridge and then push north. The 69th Brigade would also push through and move on Deir el Dhib. Two armored brigades would push into the enemy rear area. The Australian historian was again critical of the plan. Auchineleck watnted to attack on the night of 24-25 July, but General Ramsden thought that the South Africans were too tired. The 69th Brigade commander also wanted more rest for the brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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