A Conversation for The Battle of El Alamein (November - December 1942)
silverygibbon Started conversation Aug 19, 2006
Feeling slightly slighted, I would like to wave a patriotic flag here for the Australian 9th division who somehow failed to rate a mention.
After proving a real thorn in the German's side in the First Battle of Alamein in July, Rommel was understandably wary of them. Following the bombardment commencing on October 23rd (a date you might like to add to the article) Monty sent the 9th division to attack from the North which caused Rommel to send a significant force to meet them.
Quoting from the Australian War Memorial website (http://www.awm.gov.au):
"On the night of 23 October 1942, a massive artillery barrage heralded the great Allied offensive. The infantry successfully captured most of their objectives; however, the tanks were unable to follow through and continue the thrust. With the Axis forces stubbornly holding their lines intact, Montgomery worried that his offensive was becoming bogged down. Changing tactics from the drive westwards, he ordered the Australians of 9th Division to switch their attack northward. What followed was a week of extremely fierce fighting, with the Australians grinding their way forward over well-defended enemy positions. As had happened in July, their gains so worried Rommel that he again diverted his strongest units to stop them. Places such as Thompson’s Post, the Fig Orchard, the Blockhouse and the Saucer became an inferno of fire and steel as the Australians weathered the storm of bombs, shells and bullets.
"With Rommel’s attention firmly on the Australians in the north, naturally this left his line weakened further south, and on 2 November the British tanks struck a decisive blow there. The Panzerarmee had suffered crippling losses and Rommel was forced to order a general withdrawal, or face total annihilation. His army now began a headlong retreat that would soon see them ejected from Africa altogether.
"Between July and November 1942, the Australian 9th Division suffered almost 6,000 casualties. "
Incidentally, the prized "Desert Rats" nickname of the British 7th Armoured Division is derived from the Australian 18/7th and 9th Divison "Rats of Tobruk". This derived from a Lord Haw-Haw broadcast where he refered to the Australians as "poor desert rats of Tobruk".
Not trying to be critical of a fine article, just hoping to add a bit more detail.
laconian Posted Aug 20, 2006
It does seem to me that, when people talk of WW2, the contingents of men from across the British Empire get a bit of a raw deal in terms of recognition, or lack of it. If I recall correctly, the largest single British force deployed during the war was actually most made up of Indians, fighting the Japanese in south-east Asia.
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