Extract from records located on the Australian War Memorial website...
The struggle for North Africa saw the pendulum swing sharply in favour of the Axis from January 1942. The Axis forces comprised German and Italian troops and were known asPanzerarmee Afrika, led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, “The Desert Fox”. Opposing him was the British Eighth Army commanded by General Claude Auchinleck. This army comprised British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Indian troops. By the end of June, Rommel had forced the Allies back deep into Egypt, and the capture of Cairo and the Suez Canal seemed a very real possibility.
The Allies pinned all their hopes on their new defensive position near the tiny railway stop of El Alamein. Here, the battlefield narrowed between the coast and the impassable Qattara Depression. Rommel, wanting to maintain the pressure made another thrust on 1 July, hoping to dislodge Eighth Army from the Alamein position and open the way to Cairo and Suez. The Allies however had regrouped sufficiently to repulse the attack and make some counterattacks of their own. In these first days of July, the fate of the whole campaign hung in the balance. Both sides by now critically weakened and disorganised, missed opportunities for decisive victories. Both now took time over the next few days to reorganise and lick their wounds.
Before dawn on 10 July the 9th Division launched an attack on the northern flank and succeeded in taking the important high ground around Tel el Eisa. This caught Rommel off guard as he had concentrated his forces for his own offensive in the south. The Australians spent the next few days fighting off heavy counterattacks as Rommel redirected much of his forces against them. The 9th Division infantry owed much to Australian, British and South African artillery, as well as the Desert Air Force (DAF), in repelling these counterattacks. Australians were also present in the DAF, flying with of Nos. 3 and 450 Squadrons, RAAF. Allied infantrymen had varying opinions regarding armoured support, feeling that sometimes the tanks provided welcome support and protection, but also that sometimes they failed them completely."
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