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