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Campaign 158: El Alamein 1942, The Turning of the Tide

by Ken Ford, illustrated by Howard Gerrard

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-867-7, 96 pages.

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This is a very good and clear account of the fighting that stopped Rommel’s first push into Egypt (First Alamein), foiled his second attempt (Alam Halfa) and finally defeated the Afrika Korps and the whole of Panser Armee Afrika (Second Alamein). The scene is set in the first chapter with its overview of the situation, then as usual in this series we get a look at the opposing commanders and their armies – not just Montgomery and Rommel but Monty’s superiors, predecessors and subordinates and the Italian commanders and their forces too. Theoretically Rommel was subordinate to an Italian high commander, Marshall Ugo Cavallero, but in practice things were rather different. It is striking that Auchinleck was removed from command for wanting to delay an attack on Rommel’s forces until mid-September 1942, when his 8th Army would be reinforced and re-equipped, but his replacement Alexander and of course Montgomery actually delayed until mid-October for the same reasons and got away with the delay.

The course of each battle is well described and shown in good maps, and there are the usual birds’-eye-views for Alam Halfa and Second Alamein. Most of the period photographs are familiar, and tank fans may cringe at some of the text with such references as “Pz IV specials” instead of proper identification – but do remember that this is a book for general readers too and they don’t want confusing terminology! The colour plates are as always highly atmospheric.

Highly recommended as a history of the battle and guide to the fighting.

John Prigent

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