By the summer of 1942, the Allies were in trouble throughout Europe. Western Europe seemed to be fully under German control and there seemed little left to stop the Axis from taking Egypt. The British prepared for an evacuation by burning all their sensitive documents, whilst confident of success, Italy’s Mussolini flew to Libya to prepare for a triumphant entry into Cairo.
El Alamein was an insignificant railway station between the sea and the Qattara Depression, but it was to be the site of a last stand for the Allies in North Africa. Held by the British under the command of General Auchinleck, the only way for the Axis to outflank it was to take a significant detour to the south and cross the Sahara desert. To prevent this, the Allies had already placed a huge number of land mines in the south of El Alamein.
On 1st July of 1942, Rommel’s forces began their attack in full using divisions of German and Italian tanks. However, beset with delays and then facing the superior numbers of the Allied forces which included South African and Indian troops, they failed to make any progress and were forced to call off the attack after a couple of days in order to await resupplies
Whilst they waited, the Allies continued to receive further reinforcement, this time from the Australian 9th Division. On the 8th of July, Auchinlech ordered the Allies to start going on the offensive.
Whilst some success was achieved, there were numerous mistakes and problems which left Allied forces vulnerable. The Axis exploited all the weaknesses they could find and the heavy fighting continued with neither side gaining the advantage, whilst casualties continued to mount up.
Auchinleck’s next plan was called ‘Operation Manhood’ and began on the 26th July. It began well with the Australian forces capturing the end of the Miteirya Ridge (fondly called ‘Ruin Ridge’) However, support reinforcements failed to turn up in time and the Germans used their tanks to launch a strong counterattack. The Allies were forced to cancel their attack on the 31st July. This proved to be the end of the fighting for now and a stalemate was declared.
Although the Allies had managed to stop the Axis advance at El Alamein, the leadership viewed it as a failure. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill replaced Auchinleck as commanding officer with William Gott. However, Gott was killed en-route to his new command. Bernard Montgomery was appointed in his place and the stage was set for a final defeat of the Axis forces in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October.
From Saturday 30th June at 07:30 CEST (05:30 GMT) until Tuesday 3rd July at 07:00 CEST (05:00 GMT), you will be able to honour the First El Alamein battle and put some of the vehicles used in the battle into action with the following bonuses:
So here is your chance to pick up some new tanks, stock them up with powerful ammunition and win more experience than usual!