105, File 1 SAD/A2/2, Battle Casualties, 2 July 1942). On the following morning Rommel sacked the command of 15 Panzer. He believed that the survivors of X Corps, battered at Mersa Matruh, was all that was standing around El Alamein, while the fresher XIII Corps was fifteen miles further south, blocking the road to Cairo. He insisted that Rommel prepare for one final attack on the British lines, to be carried out after reinforcements had arrived. Herinneringe, III, p 5). 7th Light Armoured Division was further south, watching the German 90th Light Division. By this time, the sandstorm had cleared, making it easy for the South African and British artillery observers to direct fire onto them (WD 358, File A7/ME 52: War Diary, 3rd SA Brigade HQ, 1 July 1942). The Quattara Depression, more or less 60km south-west of El Alamein, constitutes an area of 200km2 and consists mostly of salt lakes and soft sand so that even camels carrying a load could not navigate it. Between February and May 1942 the front line in North Africa had been the Gazala Line, a British defensive position that ran south from the sea at Gazala, and that was built around a series of defensive 'boxes', brigade sided strong points that were meant to be large enough to defend themselves for at least a week. This was of vital importance to the Allied war effort, as it enabled the British forces, in cooperation with their American allies, to drive the Axis forces from North Africa. A modified plan was adopted, in which one Australian brigade and the 69th Infantry Brigade would carry out the attack. On the German side Rommel decided to try and close the gap in his line left by Ariete by moving 21 Panzer from the Ruwesiat Ridge to a position east of El Mreir. However, during the second half of July, Rommel proved not only to be a good commander during offensive operations, but also in defence. Two years of constant strain and combat … Italian and German scouts race towards Alexandria. Rommel was planning to chance his axis of attack. However Rommel had begun to cover his front with a dense minefield, mainly using mines taken from the British lines around Mersa Matruh. Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (London, 1977). Both sides were now exhausted, but the British were able to recover quicker than Rommel. Its two panzer divisions now only had 42 running tanks. Hence the El Alamein Box would become a thorn in the side of Rommel as the South Africans constantly harassed them with patrols and artillery fire until the end of the battle (Agar-Hamilton and Turner, 1952, p 271). Fact File : First Battle of El Alamein. The First Battle of El Alamein (1–27 July 1942) was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War, fought on the northern coast of Egypt between Axis forces (Germany and Italy) of the Panzer Army Africa (Panzerarmee Afrika) (also known as the Africa Corps) commanded by Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) … Thirty miles inland was the Qattara Depression, a low lying area that is below sea level, and that is bordered by a steep escarpment. The Eighth Army evacuated the Gazala line west of Tobruk on 14 June and on 21 June disaster struck when the garrison of Tobruk surrendered and 33 000 men, mostly South Africans of the 2nd South African Division, went into captivity. Auchinleck's Third Attack This would have been the right time to launch the XXX Corps attack in the north, but General Morshead, commander of the 9th Australian Division, objected to his role, on the grounds that his men were exhausted. Archival Sources: SANDF Documentation Services: Divisional Documents (Div Docs) 68, File 64: Operational Report, 1 st SA Division, El Alamein Defensive Battle, 29 June to 30 September 1942. Colvocoressi, P and Wint, G, Total War. The main fighting occurred in the vicinity of the Ruweisat Ridge, involving the 1st British Armoured Division, but the South Africans did not escape unscathed. He also hoped that this might convince Rommel to move south to try and take advantage of the apparently open road to Egypt, so that he would be unable to send his Germans to help the Italians on the coast. At the same time, British reinforcements were arriving at such a slow rate that a large-scale offensive before September was out of the question. From this low lying hill west of the El Alamein Box, the Australians could threaten Rommel's line of communications along the coast. The perception already existed that the latter had an irresponsible attitude towards human losses. British forces in North Africa were in chaos after Tobruk fell to Rommel’s forces in June 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein was a battle in the Second World War.It took place in El Alamein, Egypt.It was fought between the Allied forces, and Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.The battle took place from 1 July to 27 July 1942. The 5th Indian Brigade held the Naqb Abu Dweis box, on the edge of the depression. Initially, a sandstorm aided the 90th Light Division in getting quite close to the El Alamein Box without being detected. All they could offer in the short term were the Ramcke and Folgore parachute brigades, which had been preparing for the invasion of Malta (Operation Hercules). The Battle was actually composed of two battles. By last light, the 79th British Anti-Tank Regiment was also deployed near the threatened point but, by that time, the German attack had lost its momentum (Tungay, Cape Town, pp 252-3). In the north, near the small railway siding of El Alamein, a defensive position had been prepared in 1941 by the 2nd South African Division, but by now it was in a dilapidated state. War Diaries(WD) 343, File C28/33: War Diary 1st South African Division Administrative Headquarters. Handel, M I (ed), Intelligence and Military Operations (London, 1990). The Afrika Korps was down to 55 tanks and 500 infantry, the 90th Light Division had 1,500 infantry, and the three Italian corps had 30 tanks and 5,500 infantry. It marked the beginning of the end for the Axis in North Africa. Elsewhere the XIII Corps attack quickly fizzled out. During July 1942, 12 700 officers and men of the Eighth Army were reported killed, wounded or missing in action (Auchinleck, January, 1948, p 330). By now Rommel realised that his force was running out of steam. 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