The first battle of El Alamein book is now available. About this book:
The battle of El Alamein calls to memory the victory of the British 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General B.L. Montgomery over that of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Panzerarmee Afrika during October to November 1942. This battle was decisive, but the eventual outcome was not in doubt as the contribution of American industrial power by that time tilted the balance of power in favour of their British ally, as was the case in August 1942 (battle of Alam Halfa) when Rommel desperately tried for a final time to break through to Cairo and the Suez Canal.
The situation in June to July 1942 is contrasted with the above-named scenario when a demoralised 8th Army retreated from Gazala after being defeated by Rommel’s forces. The skirmishes were initially not named a battle, but as eventually historians realised that what is now known as the 1st battle of El Alamein was the most significant of the three battles during 1942.
All that was needed was that Rommel’s forces had to break through the scattered cluster of British forces near the coast, especially as the 1st British Armoured Division only arrived during the afternoon of 1 July from Mersa Matruh. Thus, the 1st South African Infantry Division with the 18th Indian Brigade with inexperienced troops, faced the might of the German panzers. If Rommel could bypass the South Africans and Indians and reach the open terrain between the station and Alexandria he, master of mobile warfare, would outmanoeuvre the British and capture Alexandria and Cairo and eventually even the Persian Gulf oil fields, knocking the British Empire out of the war.
Rommel’s desperate efforts from 1 to 3 and again on 13 July failed, but the South Africans were in the eye of the firestorm. Gradually the battle developed into a process of attrition which favoured the British. The British commander, general C.J.E. Auchinleck eventually took the offensive, but British doctrine and experience did not yet lend it to the conduct of mobile warfare. Thus, Rommel’s forces were not destroyed. Auchinleck did however, lay the foundation for the British victories of Alam Halfa and the 2nd battle of El Alamein. The events in the battle during the period 1 – 30 July and the South African perspective is evaluated in this publication as a contribution to a better understanding of the North African campaign during the 2nd World War.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colonel (Rtd.) Christiaan James Jacobs served for 41 years in the South African Defence National Defence Force. He attended as a junior armoured officer in the Namibian border war and from 1983 – 1989 as a lecturer in Military History at the Military Academy in Saldanha. He also served as the resident Military Historian at the South African Army College from 1997 to 2005 and at the South African National War College in Pretoria, till his retirement in 2014.
He has written several articles for scientific journals and is co-author of the book: Edwards, J. (ed.), El Alamein and the struggle for North Africa, published by the American University in Cairo Press in 2012. He holds a MA (Cum Laude) in History from Stellenbosch (1988). In 1994 he obtained his PHD in History from the University of the Free State.
Author: James Jacobs
Date Published: 2017-12-22
ISBN: 978-0-620-78416-0 (print)
ISBN: 978-0-620-78417-7 (e-book)
Published By: iNtgrty
Number of Pages: 261