- 23rd October to 4th November 1942. Rommel Decisively Defeated.
The Battle at El Alamein was Montgomery's first offensive battle and involved the most extensive use of deception techniques and secrecy yet. Montgomery planned the battle in 3 stages; the 'break in', the 'dog fight' and the 'break out'. The break in involved 4 infantry divisions engaging in Operation LIGHTFOOT, the 'crumbling' process that then cleared the way for the 1st and 10th armoured Divisions to attack. It began on the night of 23rd October when 882 guns opened fire to create a rolling barrage and the 9th Australian Division attacked in the Northern sector. Montgomery achieved total surprise when he attacked in the strongly held Northern sector as elaborate deception pointed to his attacking the southern sector. Rommel's elite Panzer Divisions had been drawn southwards when the 13th Corps initiated a diversionary attack, and therefore Montgomery was able to attack his infantry divisions and almost completely destroy them. When the Panzer Divisions began moving northward to deal with the attack, Montgomery launched Operation SUPERCHARGE just south of the Panzer Divisions and when they were drawn into battle, the path was clear for the armour in the north. Rommel decided that all was lost, but his proposal to withdraw was over-ruled by Hitler who told hi to satnd and fight. This only achieved further losses and on the night of 8th November, he withdrew with Hitler's permission.
Montgomery executed his plans near perfectly and demonstrated his tactical ability and skills in a set piece battle, but he did possess a very significant numerical superiority, with almost double Rommel's number of troops, double his medium tanks and double his number of anti-tank guns, as well as the Afrika Corps being crippled due to the lack of fuel; it has to be said that Montgomery's had advantages that no other previous Allied commander had in North Africa.
Diverted and Committed Troops
Weapons In North Africa
Commanders and their tactics
High Command Disputes And Interference
Concluding thoughts on the North African Campaign