To what extent did air power contribute to the

To what extent did air power contribute to the Allied Victory at the SecondBattleofEl Alameinin 1942?

El Alamein is a name that has become synonymous with the Second World War. This is non surprising given the nature of the desert contending which took topographic point at that place in 1941 and 1942. Curiously, though, El Alamein is besides thought of as the site of both an Allied and Axis triumph: the zenith every bit good as the low-water mark of the military calling of the great Field Marshall Rommel as he came tantalisingly close to come ining Egypt and therefore prehending control of the Suez Canal and the moneymaking Middle Eastern oil Fieldss. Furthermore, the Battle of El Alamein is a conflict that remains rooted its geographical context. For case, the three separate Battles of El Alamein are frequently remembered as land conflicts fought with armored combat vehicles, land mines and close combat armed forces. Rarely, though, are the Battles of El Alamein seen as conflicts of air high quality between the Luftwaffe and the Allied aircraft, preponderantly of British, American and Commonwealth beginning in this case. Yet this conflict was so an incorporate conflict – one that was “won, by incorporating air, sea and land power across the whole theater in a manner which eluded the Axis.” [ 1 ] Thus, it was merely through uniting attempts at land, air and sea that the Allies were able to ship on what Ken Ford footings as “the turning of the tide” [ 2 ] – a minute which, when combined with the Soviet triumph at Stalingrad in February of 1943, telegraphed the beginning of the terminal for Nazi Germany.

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For the intent of position, the undermentioned essay must seek to follow a chronological attack, following the development and development of the Second Battle of El Alamein within the context of the First Battle of El Alamein every bit good as within the broader context of the international position quo in 1942. In this manner, the true nature of Allied air domination can be accurately gauged. First, nevertheless, an overview of the military facets of the Second World War must be ascertained so as to set up a conceptual model for the balance of the treatment.

Unlike the Great War ( 1914-1918 ) – the last great struggle affecting the major European state provinces before 1939 – the Second World War was a war that integrated land, air and sea manners of warfare to embrace what was termed as ‘total war’ by the Nazi hierarchy. Whereas, for case, the Battle of the Somme in 1916 was a land?based matter, all of the major conflicts of World War Two involved incorporate forms of warfare. This is as true of the German blitzkriegs as it was of the Allied onslaughts on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Success could merely come about through a meeting of the three major aspects of modern warfare. This is an of import point and one that straight impacts upon the essay at manus. To win the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Allied air force must hold been able to show a clear high quality to that of the Germans. If non, the German lines would hold been in a place to drive the Allied armored combat vehicle and field charges that finally forced the Nazis out of the domain of the Middle East.

World War Two was besides a extremely alone struggle because of the manner in which it genuinely was a planetary matter ( which is in direct contrast to World War One which was chiefly fought in Europe merely ) . This factor had of import effects for the Desert War and, specifically, the conflicts at El Alamein. For illustration, by spread outing into Russia in the East, France in the West and South across the Mediterranean Sea the Germans had over stretched both their work forces and their resources. This was surely apparent by the concluding months of 1942 and the Second Battle of El Alamein. Research of military informations undertaken by Doctor Graham Watson show that the Allies had immensely superior militias of armored divisions available for deployment by the clip of the Second Battle of El Alamein in October of 1942 [ 3 ] . For case, in late October 1942 when the Second Battle of El Alamein was at its zenith, Montgomery could number on over nine 100 armored combat vehicles at his disposal while his German opposite number Rommel had merely three hundred and 70 armored combat vehicles fit for action at this clip. This besides clearly and identifiably impacted upon the manner in which the Allied air force was able to accomplish domination over the skies in the Desert War as the British and Commonwealth foot were held in modesty in sufficient Numberss to be able to capitalize on air foraies and hence to comprehensively win the Second Battle of El Alamein. The portion played by the foot and the armored divisions on land must non be eclipsed by concentrating on the Allies’ presentation of air high quality. As Bruce Allen Watson duly notes, “Montgomery’s El Alamein offense was truly a World War One conflict of attrition.” [ 4 ]

This war of abrasion centred on the logistical world of contending a desert war in the 1940s where critical military supplies such as fuel and gasoline were important to the eventual result of any land based violative, particularly a land based violative taking topographic point in the Middle Eastern desert. Fuel was critical for the armored combat vehicles and armored divisions ; indispensable in establishing any sustainable sort of violative. In add-on, supplies such as ammo and arms were similarly critical to the foot and land military personnels who would be required to take any assault against the German forepart lines. Furthermore, the military personnels on the front line of both ground forcess required nutrient and H2O in order to last in the inhospitable terrain of the desert, which – once more – needed to be in changeless supply if any onslaught was to be efficaciously maintained.

The air force was hence important to the success at El Alamein in October and November of 1942 because of the manner in which air power was able to provide the forepart lines every bit good as the militias of the British and Commonwealth armoured and foot divisions at a rate transcending that of the Nazis. Petrol, weaponries and other critical desert war military supplies were able to be continuously flown in over the fall of 1942 so that the Allied land ground forces was in a much better place to prolong a drawn-out assault against the beleaguered German forces which were, conversely, inadequately supplied by their ain Luftwaffe which was going progressively overstretched with runs in the Caucasus every bit good as in the Middle East. This is a extremely of import point and one that needfully impacts upon the essay at manus: the Allied air force was as important for theindirectimpact that it had upon the Second Battle of El Alamein as it was for thedirectimpact that it had upon the combat towards which attending must now be turned.

The Second Battle of El Alamein began in earnest on the dark of the 23rdof October 1942 with a sustained heavy weapon assault ordered by Montgomery. The purpose was to cut a corridor through the chief Axis minefields to the north while keeping a land based assault to the South of the German places. The portion played by the Allied air force was cardinal in guaranting the success of both the northern and the southern expeditionary forces because of the manner in which it led of import bombardment foraies against both the German forepart lines and the German militias, which badly weakened the ability of Rommel’s forces to drive the British and Commonwealth progress at El Alamein. As Bungay observes, “air onslaughts could intend curtailing driving to dark, which efficaciously halved the maximal flow. Actual air onslaughts would cut down the truck fleet and destroy supplies.” [ 5 ]

Therefore, the heavy and sustained bombardment foraies undertaken by the Allied air force ( jointly known as ‘Operation Agreement’ ) were able to badly cut down the German military capablenesss when the land based violative took topographic point after the 23rdof October 1942. Without this important air screen, the British and Commonwealth onslaught may hold become entrenched in and around El Alamein without of all time wining in doing Rommel retreat back towards the Mediterranean Sea and Europe, which was the raison d’etre of the mission. One must endeavor to remember the rough real properties of establishing an offense within the context of a desert war where land mines and inhospitable terrain make the progress of armored combat vehicles and military personnels highly slow in comparing to offenses undertaken on more fertile land. As a consequence, the enemy had to be badly weakened for any big graduated table violative to win. This in bend meant that the Allies were even more reliant upon air high quality in order to track the peculiarly debatable terrain of the Middle Eastern desert. The lesson of air high quality was non lost on the German High Command. Indeed, Rommel noted after the Second Battle of El Alamein that, “we had sufficient chance to be able to analyze the impact of the Anglo-American bomber tactics on our motorised units.” [ 6 ] Rommel attempted to act upon German military policy with respects to such steps as increasing anti?air arms for the defense mechanism of Western Europe but to no help. Alternatively, the Fuhrer ordered him to take his ain life on 14 October 1944, therefore taking away the expertness gathered on the battleground at El Alamein.

Before turning attending towards making a decision, reference must be made of other palliating factors that contributed to the Allied triumph at El Alamein that can non be attributed to the Allied high quality in the air. The over-stretching of German resources by the fall of 1942 has already been underscored. As Windrow accurately points out, “this formidable ground forces was deathlike short of fuel and ammo, and of air support.” [ 7 ] This made the incorporate Allied violative much more likely to win. Likewise, the deficiency of support that the Germans received from the Italians in the Desert War, which was in arrant contrast to the close on the job partnerships of the Anglo?American forces, which, once more, made triumph all the more likely at El Alamein from the beginning. Furthermore, the Germans were hampered by serious logistical jobs that resided outside of the domain of military equipment. Field Marshall Rommel was, for illustration, absent from the German central office for the first two important yearss of the conflict as he was retrieving from sick wellness in Italy. All of these external factors contributed to the echoing Allied triumph at the Second Battle of El Alamein.


Allied air high quality was important to the triumph achieved at El Alamein between October and November of 1942. Without the progressively obvious high quality of Allied planes over the Luftwaffe ( which was even more clear after the Americans joined the war in December 1941 ) , the offense of the Second Battle of El Alamein may hold resulted in the same deadlock that characterised the First Battle of El Alamein when the Allies failed in their efforts to coerce Rommel into a retreat. This is in itself testimony to the improved coordination of the land, sea and air divisions of the Allied military by the clip of the Second Battle of El Alamein.

However, it is besides clear that the incorporate Allies forces were confronting a much weaker enemy than they had in 1941 and during the first months of 1942 as the Nazis became embroiled in impossible military state of affairss in Russia, Africa and the Middle East. This needfully impacted upon the ability of the Allied air force to blotted out German supplies, which were already at a critically low degree by August and September of 1942. Therefore, in the concluding analysis, although the Allied air force was without uncertainty a cardinal characteristic in the of import triumph gained at El Alamein in October and November of 1942, the military tide was already turning inexorably against the Nazis who had spread their work forces and their resources excessively thinly over excessively big an country.


Allen Watson, B. ( 2007 )Desert Battles: From Napoleon to the Gulf WarLancaster: Stackpole Books

Barr, N. ( 2004 )Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El AlameinLondon: Pimlico

Bierman, J. ( 2002 )Alamein: War Without HateHammondsworth: Penguin

Bungay, S. ( 2003 )AlameinLondon: Aurum Press

Ford, K. ( 2005 )El Alamein: Turn of the TideOxford: Osprey

Reuth, R.G. ( 2005 )Desert fox: The End of a LegendLondon: Haus Printing

Strawson, J. ( 1981 )Alamein: Desert VictoryLondon: Sphere

Windrow, M. ( 1976 )Rommel’s Desert ArmyOxford: Osprey

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