El Alamein Museum


El Alamein

El Alamein is located on the northern coast of Egypt, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, about 240 kilometres northwest of Cairo, and 100 kilometres west of Alexandria. It is now a popular resort town, and visitors to the battlefield sites can find accommodation in one of the many resorts that have sprung up in recent years throughout the area. The area around El Alamein played a critical role in the Second World War, and it was here that the tide of the Western Desert Campaign turned against the Axis forces in late 1942.

In June, 1942, the newly promoted German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (known as the Desert Fox), advanced the Axis forces into Egypt. The Allied forces, principally of the British Eight Army (which including Australian units, most notably the 9th Infantry Division), commanded at the time by General Claude Auchinleck, fought a defensive withdrawal back to a line near El Alamein. By late June, 1942, the Axis forces had reached this line and were  This area was chosen because the steep slopes of the Qattara Depression to the south made it impossible for large German armoured forces to outflank the Allied defences. 

Over subsequent months the Axis forces made numerous attempts to break this line, failing in every attempt. Finally, in October/November, 1942, the Allied forces launched their own offensive, breaking the Axis lines, and beginning the long advance back through Egypt and Libya.

Today, the fighting throughout much of the Western Desert Campaign is commemorated at the El Alemain War Museum, pictured here, which is located 200m off the main Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh Road on the western outskirts of El Alamein. There is a small 10 Egyptian pound entry fee, with an additional fee to take cameras inside.

Image: The entrance to the El Alamein War Museum.
Creator: Christopher Karykides

The Peace Memorial, seen in this image, lies in the central courtyard of the War Museum and is dedicated to the cause of world peace.  It features six white-bordered steps containing the remnants of war, leading up to a representation of circling doves. The courtyard around the memorial is subject to change, but typically features information on the Western Desert Campaign during the Second World War, such as illustrated busts of key leaders, and illustrations of armaments involved in the campaign.

Image: The El Alamein Peace Memorial, within the grounds of the El Alamein War Museum.
Creator: Christopher Karykides

The El Alamein War Museum provides information on the Western Desert Campaign, with a particular focus on the fighting around El Alamein, which included the First Battle of El Alamein, the Battle of Alam el Halfa (to the south of El Alamein), and the Second Battle of El Alamein. The museum includes several halls, with each hall being devoted to a different theme. For example, the museum includes an Egyptian hall, a Commonwealth hall (including information on Australians), an Italian hall, a German hall, and a Mixed hall. The halls feature a diverse range of memorabilia, including German motorcycles (such as the BMW R75, as seen here), armaments from the different forces, and a wide range of military uniforms. Through this material, the halls provide a rich written and visual history of the Western Desert Campaign that makes the El Alamein War Museum a good starting point for any further investigation of the surrounding area.

Image: The El Alamein War Museum.
Creator: Christopher Karykides

The Western Desert Campaign stretched over 1500 kilometres from El Alamein through to the border of Libya and Tunisia (whereupon the Tunisian Campaign began). The focus of the fighting took place between major coastal towns, but occasionally forces headed inland, through the desert, in attempts to outflank enemy positions. Vehicles played a large part in this fighting: trucks carried troops to and from the battlefield; long-range reconnaissance vehicles sought to identify enemy movement through desert roads; tanks typically spearheaded assaults in an attempt to punch through enemy lines; whilst aircraft attacked enemy supply lines and other vulnerable targets behind enemy lines. In recognising the importance of these vehicles to the campaign, the gardens surrounding the El Alamein War Museum contain the remains of 29 military vehicles/armaments used by both Axis and Allied forces. This image shows a section of five vehicles in the north-west section of the gardens. From left to right, the vehicles are a Sherman tank, a Stuart light tank, a Crusader tank, a Mark VI tank, and a Grant tank.

Image: Vehicles in the exterior grounds of the El Alamein War Museum.
Creator: Christopher Karykides

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