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Google Map of El Alamein, Egypt

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Site in Egypt where German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (the "Desert Fox") fought and finally lost.

Editor's Note (from the Wikipedia):

Rommel spent most of 1941 building his organization and re-forming the shattered Italian units, who had suffered a string of defeats at the hands of British Commonwealth forces under Major General Richard O'Connor. An offensive pushed the Allied forces back out of Libya, but it stalled a relatively short way into Egypt, and the important port of Tobruk, although surrounded, was still held by Allied forces under an Australian General, Leslie Morshead. The Allied Commander-in-Chief, General Archibald Wavell swapped commands with the British Commander-in-Chief India, General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck launched a major offensive to relieve Tobruk which eventually succeeded. However, when this offensive ran out of steam, Rommel struck.

In a classic blitzkrieg, Allied forces were comprehensively beaten. Within weeks they had been pushed back far into Egypt. Rommel's offensive was eventually stopped at the small railway town of El Alamein, just 60 miles from Cairo. The First Battle of El Alamein was lost by Rommel due to a combination of supply problems and improved Allied tactics. The Allies, with their backs against the wall, were very close to their supplies and had fresh troops on hand to reinforce their positions. Auchinleck's tactics of continually attacking the weaker Italian forces during the battle forced Rommel to use the Deutsches Afrika Korps in a "Fire Brigade" role and placed the initiative in Allied hands. Rommel tried again to break through the Allied lines during the Battle of Alam Halfa. He was decisively stopped by the newly arrived Allied commander, Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery; mainly due to the fact that the allies had devised a machine capable of deciphering German communications, thus alerting them to Rommel's battle plan prior to the battle. This was known as the "Ultra".

With Allied forces from Malta interdicting his supplies at sea, and the massive distances they had to cover in the desert, Rommel could not hold the El Alamein position forever. Still, it took a large set piece battle, the Second Battle of El Alamein, to force his troops back. After the defeat at El Alamein, despite urgings from Hitler and Mussolini, Rommel's forces did not again stand and fight until they had entered Tunisia. Even then, their first battle was not against the British Eighth Army, but against the U.S. II Corps. Rommel inflicted a sharp reversal on the American forces at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.

Turning once again to face the British Commonwealth forces in the old French border defences of the Mareth Line, Rommel could only delay the inevitable. Ultra was a major factor that led to the defeat of his forces. He left Africa after falling sick, and the men of his former command eventually became prisoners of war.


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