With over 1,000 Allied tanks lining up against their 547 Axis counterparts, World War Two’s Second Battle of El Alamein saw the Germans effectively lose their battle for possession of Egypt and the much-prized Suez Canal. After the First Battle of El Alamein had halted the Axis advance into Egypt, the second battle effectively turned the course of the North African Campaign in the Allied forces’ favor. Tanks played a huge part in the battle, with the Allied forces receiving Sherman Tanks courtesy of the Americans. This bolstered their forces and made it possible for them to continue with the conflict longer than the Germans, whose own forces were more concentrated on the Eastern Front (www.militaryeducation.org).
Dawn of El Alamein Battle, tanks waiting to advance (National Library of Australia_FLICKR)
- Montgomery’s armoured brigades included 216 Crusaders II tanks stood ready for service at El Alamein. These tanks still mounted the nearly obsolete 2 pdr gun with some mounting a 3 inch howitzer for infantry support.
A Crusader Mk II, often used out in front for reconnaissance and probing the enemy, was the tank commanded by Keith Douglas (ww2today.com)
A Crusader Mk.II in Libya, October 1942 (www.tanks-encyclopedia.com)
Crusader II tank being recovered Egypt 1942 (www.worldwarphotos.info)
- Montgomery’s armoured brigades included 194 Valentine tanks served four infantry support tank regiments at El Alamein equipped with the 2-pounder (40mm) gun The cheaper, faster to build, and more reliable Valentine tank had now completely replaced the Matilda in infantry support battalions.
Great Britain's Infantry Tank Mk III, Valentine in North Africa in July 1942 (www.wwiivehicles.com)
Britain's Infantry Tank Mk III, Valentine in North Africa in August 1942 (www.wwiivehicles.com)
Valentine tank under gunfire at El Alamein (wilderness-ventures-egypt.com)
- Montgomery’s armoured brigades included 78 Crusader III tanks available for the battle. This tank had been uparmored and carried a 6pdr gun in its turret. This was the end of the line for the Crusader as the turret would not mount any bigger gun.
Crusader Tanks Manned by the 9th Australian Divisional Cavalry Regiment after a Reconnaissance in the Desert West of El Alamein (www.awm.gov.au).
British Crusader tanks group together in the desert at sunset to defend themselves from surprise attack at night during the battle (ww2today.com)
British Crusader Mk III tank during the Battle of El Alamein, November 1942 (albumwar2.com)
- The Matilda was now retired as a front line tank but the hulls were used for various conversions. The Matilda CS was still used to support the Valentine tanks which did not have a CS version. The Scorpion was a field modified Matilda with the guns removed and a rotating flail fixed in front of the tank to detonate mines. 25 of these helped clear mines at El Alamein. These should use the same special rules as the Sherman flail.
El Alamein 1942: British Matilda tanks move forward at Tobruk (www.cs.mcgill.ca)
Matilda Scorpion flail tanks, 2 November 1942 (ww2today.com)
Matilda Scorpion Mine Flail Tank (cna-group.proboards.com)
Matilda Scorpion flail tank, North Africa, Second Battle of El Alamein, 2 Nov 1942 (ww2db.com)
- The Churchill made its first appearance in combat since the disastrous Dieppe landing with the new Churchill III with increased armor and a new 6 pdr (57mm) main gun. Six were sent to North Africa for combat evaluation and were sent forward against the Germans during the El Alamein offensive. They proved to be very resistant to damage and performed well enough that more were built and sent into the later Tunisia battle area.
Churchill tanks of 'Kingforce' during the 2nd Battle of El Alamein (en.wikipedia.org)
The section covering the use of Churchills at El Alamein (okmodelers.squarespace.com)
Churchill Mk III - KingForce - El Alamein (panzerserra.blogspot.com.es)
- El Alamein was the combat debut of the American M4 Sherman medium tank. Although it is often compared unfavorably to the German Panther and Tiger tanks it later encountered, the 252 Shermans were effective against all of Rommel’s tanks at Alamein, and the Sherman’s M3 75mm was the best gun in Montgomery’s tank force. After the fall of Tobruk, FDR ordered the 1st U.S. Armored Division to give up its new M-4 Medium tanks and send them immediately to the British in North Africa. The British named them “Sherman”.
A line of Sherman tanks The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards), 1st Armoured Division, at El Alamein, 24 October 1942 (ww2today.com).
Sherman tanks of 'C' Squadron, 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, 5 November 1942 (www.ww2aircraft.net)
Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, the Shermans of this regiment were known for their marksmanship with one gunner personally congratulated by General Montgomery for destroying nine enemy tanks on a single day (www.iart7.com)
Sherman tanks of the Eighth Army move across the desert (en.wikipedia.org)
Sherman tanks go into action. The proceeded in single file because the paths through the mines were narrow (www.iwm.org.uk)
Sherman tanks of 8th Armoured Brigade waiting just behind the forward positions near El Alamein before being called to join the battle, 27 October 1942 (ww2today.com)
- Other American-built tanks in the 8th Army included 119 M3 “Honey” light tank with a 37mm gun. The M-3 Light “Honey” tank had debuted during Operation Crusader as a main battle tank and, although it had many pluses, it proved to be too light to stand up well against the heavy German tanks. These tanks were used mostly in a light tank role. Later versions would continue to serve in this role in British armored formations until the end of the war.
Stuart Light Tank in Egypt (Mike Lane_flickr)
A British unit in a U.S. built M3 Stuart 'Honey' tank patrols at speed in Egypt's Western Desert near Mount Himeimat, Egypt, in September of 1942 (AP Photo).
Honey tanks of the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry, lined up at the end of a patrol, Alamein, Egypt, July 1942 (mp.natlib.govt.nz)
- Another American-built tanks in the 8th Army included 170 M3 “Grant” mediums for duty with a hull-mounted low velocity M2 75mm and 37mm in the turret.The M-3 Medium “Grant” had also debuted during Operation Crusader and still served as an important battle tank at El Alamein. These tanks would serve through and into the Tunisia campaign but would be phased out as more Shermans became available.
Grant and Lee tanks of 'C' Squadron, 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars, 2nd Armoured Brigade, El Alamein position, Egypt, 7 July 1942 (www.ww2aircraft.net)
Lee tank of 'C' Squadron, 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars, 2nd Armoured Brigade, El Alamein position, Egypt, 7 July 1942 (www.iwm.org.uk)
Lt General Bernard Montgomery, GOC 8th Army, standing in front of his personal Grant tank, 5 November 1942 (ww2today.com)
Britain's General Bernard Montgomery, Commander of the Eighth Army, watches battle in Egypt's Western Desert, from the turret of an M3 Grant tank, in 1942 (AP Photo)