The Desert Generals: Victory and Controversy at El Alamein
Forget Stalingrad, the real turning point of World War Two was fought in the desert sands of North Africa, at the two battles of El Alamein in 1942 – the first between 1 – 27 July, the second between 23 October and 11 November.
In June 1942 Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Corps were advancing through North Africa towards Egypt at a terrifying rate, having defeated the Allies in the open field at Gazala and then having taken the vital port city of Tobruk. The war in the desert was going badly for the British; an Axis victory in North Africa seemed very likely.
Previous British-led operations against Rommel’s Afrika Korps had been very costly due to several reasons: Rommel’s outstanding ability as an opportunistic general, the inferior weaponry of the British and inferior tactics.
Yet in late June 1942 – as the Axis advance continued to steamroll towards the Egyptian heartlands – a lifeline was offered for Allied hopes when they decided to make their stand at El Alamein, little more than a dusty rail halt on the way to Alexandria but a place which offered many significant defensive advantages.
The Allies knew that ensuring Rommel and his army reached no further than El Alamein was vital. Lose this strategic position and the road to Cairo, the Suez Canal and the oilfields of Persia would be open for Rommel; lose the battle and Allied defeat in the Second World War seemed almost certain.
In this exclusive documentary Tim Collins re-investigates Britain’s critical desert campaign during the Second World War, and the controversial battle tactics needed to take on Germany’s panzers in total war and prevent Hitler from gaining Egypt, Iraq and the oilfields.
He concludes his examination of Britain’s critical desert campaign during the Second World War by exploring the Battles of El Alamein.Duration: 48 Min