A new front: the importance of El Alamein

Bungay sums up the importance of El Alamein and North Africa:

“However, from a strategic perspective, even the modest level of damage inflicted directly on the Axis at El Alamein was significant. It forced Hitler’s attention back to the west and began a process of serious attrition there which, combined with the relentless losses in Russia, was to lead to total defeat. Until then, his forces had been concentrated in the east, and were beginning to be stretched. With the loss of the desert, he had to divert forces to Africa. With the invasion of North Africa, he had to occupy Southern France, and found a Vichy French army suddenly becoming a Free French army and fighting against him. After they had cleared North Africa, the Allies invaded Sicily. On 25 July 1943 whilst fighting there was still going on, there was a coup d’etat in Rome, and Mussolini was imprisoned. The Allies then invaded the Italian mainland; on 29 September Italy surrendered to the Allies and on 13 October declared war on Germany. This meant that not only did German troops have to man the lines in Russia, Italy and the Balkans to replace the Italians who had been there, but they also had a new enemy. As a result of Alamein, what had begun as an imperial war developed into a main front with broad strategic and political consequences.”

It is early in 1943, not long after the third battle of El Alamein and before the surrender of Italy that Flight Sgt E.L. Britton arrives in Africa and his war begins.


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