El Alamein Memorials

Egypt

A number of war memorials can be found in the area around El Alamein, dedicated to the various armed forces that were active in this area during the Western Desert Campaign. Several of these are located within walking distance of the El Alamein War Museum and the El Alamein War Cemetery.

The Memorial to the 9th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force is located 100 metres off the path between the El Alamein and is one of the most prominent memorials in the area. As seen in this image, it stands on a small rise overlooking the surrounding area to the south-west, including the El Alamein War Cemetery (out of shot to the left of this image).

The 9th Division are well known for their service in the North African campaign, in particular they were the ‘Rats of Tobruk’ who held out against Axis attacks during the Siege of Tobruk in 1941. It was also the men of the 9th Division who played the decisive role in the Second Battle of El Alamein. Later, the bulk of the 9th Division were transferred to the Pacific Theatre of Operations where they served in the New Guinea campaign and the Borneo campaign.

Image: Memorial to the 9th Division, Second Australian Imperial Force, El Alamein
Creator: Christopher Karykides

The South African War Memorial, pictured here, can be found approximately 300 metres east of the 9th Division Memorial, north of the El Alamein War Cemetery and directly adjacent to the main road through this area.

During the Second World War, the 1st South African Infantry Division and the 2nd South African Infantry Division both saw service in the North Africa campaign.  The 1st Division were prominent during the Western Desert Campaign and played an important role during the Second Battle of El Alamein, after which they were withdrawn to South Africa. The 2nd Division were similarly active during the Western Desert Campaign until the bulk of their forces were captured in the Battle of Tobruk (an incident separate to the Siege of Tobruk) in June, 1942.

Image: South African War Memorial, El Alamein.
Creator: Christopher Karykides

The Greek War Memorial is located about 1200 metres east along the road from the El Alamein War Museum, close to the corner of the main Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh Road. It was built to commemorate Greek soldiers who fought alongside Allied forces during the North African Campaign. The memorial is designed as a walled courtyard with a small Athenian temple located in the centre. Around the outside wall of the courtyard Greek soldiers are commemorated by name.

Following the fall of Greece to the Axis powers in April, 1941, several thousand Greek soldiers evacuated the country alongside Commonwealth troops (including Australians of the 6th Division who had been sent in to help defend Greece). After being reformed, they served alongside the Allies in the Western Desert Campaign where they joined in the attack during the Second Battle of El Alamein. From among these men, an elite special forces unit was formed, known as the Sacred Band, which worked with Allied forces to conduct long range raids behind Axis lines.

Image: Greek War Memorial
Creator: Nathan Wise

Three kilometres from El Alamein, off to the southern side of the main Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh Road, lies a small stone marker, pictured here, with the inscription ‘Manco La Fortuna Non Il Valore -  1 / 7 / 1942 – Alessandria 111’. (‘Lacking Fortune, Not Valor’). This marks the approximate point of the furthest Italian and German advance into Egypt during the Second World War. The site is easy to miss, being sited along a major road with no other landmarks in the surrounding area, and one needs to be travelling on the southern side of the road heading east to access the site. As such, it is best visited whilst returning from the Italian Memorial further to the west.

The area around this marker is relatively undeveloped (compared to the area closer to El Alamein to the east), and as such visitors can stand at this point and gain a good perspective over the area, primarily to the south, over which part of the Second Battle of El Alamein was fought in 1942.

Image: Mark of furthest Italian advance into Egypt.
Creator: Christopher Karykides.

Sources:

Jon Latimer, Alamein, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Australian War Memorial, http://www.awm.gov.au

Glenn Wahlert, The Western Desert Campaign 1940-41, Army History Unit, Canberra, 2006.

Download PDF
Click images for more info