Sunday, July 12, 2009

North Africa — Part 2

The fall of Tobruk on June 21, was a heavy blow to Churchill. Here the first German vehicle to enter the town pauses in front of abandoned vehicles and a sign, couched in Tommy's humour, pointing to a barber shop.

By September 1941 there were nearly 60,000 South African troops in Egypt, 15,000 of them black: all had volunteered to serve outside South Africa, and wore an orange strip on their epaulettes to mark the fact. 1st South African Division was bloodily engaged during Operation Crusader, and the over 10,000 South Africans were captured when Tobruk fell. These South Africans take cover while their truck is bombed, June 4, 1942.

German tanks roll eastwards following British withdrawal from Gazala.

One of a series of photographs taken in July, just after Rommel had been checked at “First Alamein,” showing British guardsmen practising an advance with tanks. At this juncture the “brave but baffled” 8th Army was holding a strong position just west of the little railway halt of El Alamein, but it did not fully find its feet until the arrival of Montgomery in mid-August.

German reinforcements moving up by train to the El Alamein front in October.

Montgomery preferred to let metal, not flesh, do the business of battle. On the night of October 23-24, 882 guns pounded the Axis defences before his men began to break into them.

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