Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45

Alam Halfa and Alamein

by Ronald Walker

Historical Publications Branch

Department of Internal Affairs

Wellington, New Zealand


The authors of the volumes in this series of histories prepared under the supervision of the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs have been given full access to official documents. They and the Editor-in-Chief are responsible for the statements made and the views expressed by them.




Chapter 1: The Opposing Armies

Chapter 2: The Alam El Halfa Defences

Chapter 3: The Days of Decision

Chapter 4: Axis and Allied Plans

Chapter 5: Patrols and Raids

Chapter 6: Rommel’s Offensive Opens

Chapter 7: The Battle Develops

Chapter 8: Withdrawal of the Panzer Army

Chapter 9: Operation BERESFORD

Chapter 10: Enemy Counter-Attacks

Chapter 11: Summary of the Battle

Chapter 12: The Uncombined Operations

Chapter 13: Preparations for the Offensive

Chapter 14: The Development of the Plans

Chapter 15: The Eve of the Offensive

Chapter 16: 30 Corps’ Plans

Chapter 17: 13 Corps’ Plans

Chapter 18: 10 Corps’ Plans

Chapter 19: Comparative Strengths

Chapter 20: Advance by 30 Corps

Chapter 21: The Battle is Joined

Chapter 22: 13 Corps’ Operations

Chapter 23: Dawn, 24 October

Chapter 24: The Break-Out Fails

Chapter 25: Tanks Attempt Night Advance

Chapter 26: Montgomery Changes Direction of Attack

Chapter 27: The Fourth Day of Battle

Chapter 28: Australians Keep the Initiative

Chapter 29: Australians Under Counter-Attack

Chapter 30: Operation Supercharge

Chapter 31: The End of the ‘Dog-Fight’

Chapter 32: The Pursuit

Chapter 33: Halfaya Pass


Appendix 1: Commanders at 23 October 1942

Appendix 2: Order of Battle, 2 NZ Division, 23 October 1942

Appendix 3: New Zealand Casualties in the Battle for Egypt, 20 June–21 November 1942





General Freyberg and his brigadiers, 23 October 1942 – J. C. White – Aerial mosaic, Alamein – Wheel tracks, Alamein – R. C. Gibson – Approaching dust-storm – E. J. W. Howarth – Washday – NZ Army (H. Paton) – Fly-proofed – Bofors gun and crew – Digging a trench – Sandbagged headquarters dugout – A disabled enemy tank serves as an OP – A 5 Field Regiment gun crew – The gunners go underground during a Stuka raid – Stuka pilot shot down at Alamein – Camouflaged gunpit – Special message by General Montgomery, 20 August 1942 General Alexander, Mr Churchill and General Montgomery – Mr Churchill and General Freyberg – German prisoners captured by the Maori Battalion, 4 September 1942 – C. N. D’Arcy – Aerial mosaic showing the depressions south of Bab el Qattara – Munassib Depression – Wounded awaiting treatment in 6 ADS, near Alam Halfa – General Freyberg and Brigadier Kippenberger, August 1942 – German propaganda leaflet and some of its New Zealand readers – A New Zealand navigator in the Long Range Desert Group – An LRDG patrol – Kiwi Concert Party audience in the rest area near Burg el Arab – ‘Swordfish’ area A Sherman tank of 9 Armoured Brigade – A Grant tank on manoeuvres – A flight of Liberators sets out on a raid – Air Vice-Marshal Coningham and General Montgomery – Two of the ‘Commonwealth commanders’: General Morshead (AIF) and General Freyberg – Commander’s conference. General Freyberg discusses plans for the Division’s attack on Miteiriya Ridge – The barrage opens: a 5 Field Regiment 25-pounder – A ‘Scorpion’ flail tank in action – Miteiriya Ridge. Tanks and prisoners in 6 Brigade’s area – The congestion of tanks and trucks on 22 Battalion’s front, 24 October – 5 Field Regiment gunners watch aircraft overhead as the New Zealand Division’s convoy moves through the enemy minefields – British tanks halt for maintenance – New Zealand convoy in soft sand – A shell bursts near the convoy – New Zealand main dressing station – Italian prisoners – General Freyberg directs operations from the turret of his Honey tank – GOC’s orders group conference, morning 1 November 1942 – British tanks begin the pursuit – Wrecked enemy transport – New Zealand convoy on Boomerang track – El Alamein railway station – Heavy rain delays the convoy near Fuka – Past Fuka. Looking eastwards along the Western Desert road – The New Zealand Mobile Casualty Clearing Station convoy stops for tea – Nearing Mersa Matruh – Mersa Matruh – Climbing Halfaya Pass – A New Zealand engineer sweeps for mines near the top of the pass – The winding road up Halfaya Pass

List of Maps

The Axis Approach to the Oilfields

El Alamein

Panzer Army Africa, situation on 3 September 1942

Operation BERESFORD, night 3–4 September 1942

Approximate Positions of 30 Corps at Daybreak 24 October 1942

Approximate Positions of 13 Corps at Daybreak 24 October 1942

The Pursuit, 4–7 November 1942

The Advance from 8 to 11 November 1942

Sketch taken from a map on which Rommel marked his intended movements towards Cairo and the Suez Canal should he break through at Alamein

The Panzer Divisions break through the Minefields, 31 August 1942 – a trace from a 21 Panzer Division sketch map

Alam Halfa, 31 August–1 September 1942

Enemy Defences in 30 Corps’ Sector

Plan of the Artillery Barrage for the New Zealand Sector on 23 October 1942

The Operations of 30 and 10 Corps, 24–26 October

13 Corps’ Operations, 24–26 October

Operations in the Northern Sector, 26–27 October

30 Corps’ Operations from Night 28–29 to 31 October

Operation SUPERCHARGE. Night 1–2 and 2 November

Infantry Movements between 2 and 4 November