The Battle of Alam Halfa was fought from August 30 to September 5, 1942, during World War IIs Western Desert Campaign.
With the conclusion of the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942, both British and Axis forces in North Africa paused to rest and refit.
On the British side, Prime Minister Winston Churchill travelled to Cairo and relieved Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command General Claude Auchinleck and replacing him with General Sir Harold Alexander. Command of the British Eight Army at El Alamein ultimately was given to Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery. Assessing the situation at El Alamein, Montgomery found that the front was constricted to a narrow line running from the coast to the impassable Qattara Depression.
To defend this line, three infantry divisions from XXX Corps were positioned on ridges running from the coast south to Ruweisat Ridge. To the south of the ridge, the 2nd New Zealand Division was similarly fortified along a line ending at Alam Nayil. In each case, the infantry was protected by extensive minefields and artillery support. The final twelve miles from Alam Nayil to the depression was featureless and difficult to defend.
For this area, Montgomery ordered that minefields and wire be laid, with the 7th Motor Brigade Group and 4th Light Armoured Brigade of the 7th Armoured Division in position behind.
When attacked, these two brigades were to inflict maximum casualties before falling back. Montgomery established his main defensive line along the ridges running east from Alam Nayil, most notably Alam Halfa Ridge.
It was here that he positioned the bulk of his medium and heavy armor along with anti-tank guns and artillery. It was Montgomerys intention to entice Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to attack through this southern corridor and then defeat him in a defensive battle. As British forces assumed their positions, they were augmented by the arrival of reinforcements and new equipment as convoys reached Egypt.
Across the sands, Rommels situation was growing desperate as his