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Second World War History > Battle of El Alamein Timeline

Battle of El Alamein Timeline

The Allies hold firm against Rommel and his Panzers, only to enact a counter-offensive that sends the Axis forces packing from North Africa.

Authored By Staff Writer

In the first Battle of El Alamein beginning on July 1st, 1942, German General Erwin Rommel tried in vain to attack the Allied defensive positions with his Afrika Corps (and Italian allies), yielding tremendous losses to his army forces as a result. The actions in this first campaign forced an end to fighting by July 22nd. The Allied defensive perimeter near El Alamein held and that was that.


During the lull following the fighting, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made some strategic leadership changes in the region, placing General Harold Alexander as Commander-in-Chief, Middle East (over Auchinleck) and General Bernard Law Montgomery as commander of 8th Army (over Major-General Neil Ritchie). Rommel was not resting on his laurels either for his army was reinforced by a fresh Italian division, a German parachute brigade along with a number of all-important tank systems.


With forces refreshed, Rommel enacts a first-strike mentality and attacks the Allied lines near El Alamein in an effort to take some strategic high ground behind the defensive perimeter. The assault is again repelled and Rommel is forced into a defensive position at Bab el Qattara, the starting point of his offensive. Montgomery now takes the time to build up an impressive army made up of thousands of artillery cannons, men and tanks.


On October 23rd, Operation Lightfoot is put into effect by Montgomery as 800+ artillery guns open up on the Axis positions. A two-pronged attack is activated, with a northern and southern force. The southern forces is in actuality a diversionary force meant to commit Axis resources to a second front. After two days, progress for the Allies is made but at a high cost, making for mixed results. Southern Allied forces are now committed to the north to help break the slow progress through Operation Supercharge, which itself yields little results.


In the long run, however, the overall actions prove successful as the Italian and German fighters simply have no more fight in them. Rommel orders a general retreat westwards along the North African coast, putting all Axis forces in North Africa on the run for good.


The Battle of El Alamein goes down as a victory and turning point for the Allies for German control of any part of the African continent will never be recovered throughout the rest of the war.


The battle also earns much prestige for British General Bernard Montgomery (and not so much prestige for German General Erwin Rommel in his homecoming visit with Adolph Hitler).

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Total Battle of El Alamein Events: 17

1942
Wednesday
July 1st - July 22nd

The First Battle of El Alamein takes place with Erwin Rommel hoping to put a dent in the Allied defense near El Alamain. Rommel's forces consist of his Afrika Corps and three Italian troop corps.

1942
Wednesday
July 1st

German General Erwin Rommel attempts to break through the Allied defensive perimeter at El Alamein.

1942
Friday
July 3rd

The Allies put up a stubborn defense, repelling Rommel's offensive.

1942
Saturday
August 1st - August 30th

British Prime Minister relieves General Auchinleck with General Harold Alexander as Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.

1942
Saturday
August 1st - August 30th

German forces are strengthened by the arrival of another Italian division, a German parachute brigade and more tanks.

1942
Saturday
August 1st - August 30th

Churchill replaces 8th Army leader Major-General Neil Ritchie with General Bernard Montgomery.

1942
Sunday
August 30th

Rommel begins a new offensive starting from Bab el Qattara that becomes the Battle of Alam Halfa near El Alamein. The objective is the high ridge at Alam Halfa some 13 miles through the Allied defensive perimeter in the south.

1942
Wednesday
September 2

Rommel's assault is thwarted, his tank forces suffering high losses in the attack - and his army is pushed back to Bab el Qattara.

1942
Thursday
September 3rd - October 23rd

General Montgomery decides to make El Alamein a war of numbers and stockpiles his supplies to eventually try to overwhelm the Germans.

1942
Friday
October 23rd

The Allied counter-offensive begins through Operation Lightfoot, a massive artillery bombardment of dug-in German forces.

1942
Friday
October 23rd

At 10:00PM, British XIII Corps hits the German 21st Panzer Division and Italian Brescia and Folgore Divisions in the south of the German defensive wall as a diversion to its north-bound actions.

1942
Friday
October 23rd

XXX and X Corps begin their assault on Axis nothern positions.

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Allied mine-clearing operations begin while combat continues

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Four Allied brigades have managed to break through the German defensive lines.

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Montgomery enacts Operation Supercharge and pulls some diversionary forces from his southern attacks to reinforce the north where losses continue to mount.

1942
Monday
November 2nd

As more and more Allied armor crosses through the German perimeter, Rommel orders his battle-weary forces on an eastward retreat, keeping his forces within easy access to the North African coast.

1942
Wednesday
November 4th

British X Corps makes a substantial gain in capturing Tel el Aqqaqir, running straight through the beleagured Axis lines, effectively ending the Battle of El Alamain in favor of the Allies. The victory is a major one for the Germans are in full retreat throughout North Africa. The action officially ends all Axis presence on the continent.
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