The German Afrika Corps under Rommel had successfully pushed the British 8th Army out of the Western Sahara into Egypt, with a front forming west of Alexandria between the coast and the dreaded Qattarah Depression.
In August 1942 Montgomery took command of the 8th Army, a bedraggled lot used to defeat. But one of the first things he realized was that, with such a speedy German advance, their supply lines would be weakened, leaving a weaker Africa Corps than thought. Interdiction air raids were thus organized to make sure the Germans remained as weak.
The first attempt to break the Germans began on 30 August and the battle of Alam Halfa, when the Germans attacked. The 8th Army held, the Germans withdrawing, with Montgomery shrewdly refusing to counter-attack. The actual battle of El Alamein began on 23 October 1942, when Montgomery launched 230,000 men and over a thousand tanks against the Germans following a neat deception plan which involved hundreds of tanks disguised as trucks and hundreds of trucks disguised as tanks, making the Germans think the attack would come in another sector. The battle lasted until 4 November, when British forces finally broke through the German positions into the rear, routing German forces.
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