The Battle for North Africa: El Alamein and the Turning Point for World War II

By Glyn Harper | Go to book overview

SEVEN
SLUGGING IT OUT

Operation Lightfoot on the night of October 23 was only partially successful. Most of the infantry formations in 30 Corps had failed to secure their final objectives. More seriously, the armor of 10 Corps had not come close to striking out beyond the infantry positions and exploiting the enemy’s state of confusion in that first twenty-four hours. Montgomery was annoyed at this missed opportunity and always regarded it as “a tragedy.”1 His plan for the “dogfight” phase of the battle depended on the “crumbling” operations beginning on the morning after the break-in when the enemy was vulnerable and off balance. The immediate task for October 24, then, was for the infantry of 30 Corps to try to reach their final objectives while the armor of 10 Corps, with more “ginger” put into their commanders, surged out beyond the infantry, ready to take on the armor of the Afrika Korps.

In 30 Corps sector, the Australians and Highlanders planned to renew their attempts in the late afternoon while to the south, 13 Corps would make another attempt to breach the minefields causing them so many problems. Around Ruweisat Ridge, the 4th Indian Division planned another raid that night.

At 1500 hours on October 24, 51 Highland Division, having incurred nearly 1,000 casualties already, renewed its attack with the aim of clearing a pathway for the 1st Armoured Division. It had taken most of the morning of October 24 for Major General Wimberley to find out where his scattered troops were. His men were exhausted from the battle of the night before and their numbers were seriously depleted. Wimberley was forced to commit a battalion from his reserve, 2 Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders, to attack and clear two strongpoints holding up

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The Battle for North Africa: El Alamein and the Turning Point for World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Twentieth-Century Battles ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction- the Eyes of the Whole World, Watching Anxiously 1
  • One - The Military Background 8
  • Two - The First Battle- July 1942 36
  • Three - "Drastic and Immediate" Changes 75
  • Four - Alam Halfa- Rommel’s Last Attempt 92
  • Five - Preparations and Plans 116
  • Six - Attempting the Break-in- October 23–24 144
  • Seven - Slugging It out 170
  • Eight - Operation Supercharge- The Breakthrough 204
  • Nine - Reflections and Reputations 237
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 265
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