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El Alamein, battle of

El Alamein, battle of, 1942. Fought in Egypt, close to Alexandria, El Alamein was the first decisive, irreversible British victory over German ground forces, which, together with their Italian allies, were forced to retreat 1,500 miles to Tunisia. Rommel, short of fuel and against British air superiority, could not fight a mobile battle to balance Montgomery's superiority in combat troops. The 8th Army had nearly 200,000 men, more than half from Britain, the rest from India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, against about 100,000 Italians and Germans. Attrition dominated the battle and British inferiority to the Germans in manœuvre and in co-operation between different ground arms was no handicap. Montgomery has been criticized for sluggish exploitation of his victory and failure to cut off the German retreat. However, the battle caused silenced church bells in Britain to be rung in celebration and made Montgomery a national hero. Together with the much larger-scale victory of the Red Army at Stalingrad, Alamein came to seem the turning-point in the war against Hitler. Cinematographic exploitation followed with Desert Victory, the British film which opened by using the dramatic effect of the intense artillery barrage at the start of the battle; a just tribute to the consistent excellence of British field artillery.

R. A. C. Parker

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El Alamein, Battle of

El Alamein, Battle of a battle of the Second World War fought in 1942 at El Alamein in Egypt, 90 km (60 miles) west of Alexandria. The German Afrika Korps under Rommel was halted in its advance towards the Nile by the British 8th Army under Montgomery, giving a decisive British victory.

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