Monday, March 27, 2006

El Alamein war cemeteries

The site of the Allies' decisive victory against the Axis forces led by Rommel. Their victory secured allied control over Egypt and the Suez Canal and ensured domination over the entire Mediterranean. Churchill praised Montgomery's troops by saying "It can be said that before El Alamein we had no victories and afterwards we suffered no defeats".

After leading Rommel on to their defensive position, Montgomery pounded them with artillery then counter attacked, breaking through the minefield and eventually chasing Rommel all the way through Libya to Tunisia. Behind them they left the fallen and these are interred in various cemeteries around the town - separate ones for Greek, South African, Allied, German, etc troops. The Allied cemetery is a sprawling affair, with white crosses interspersed by trees and overlooked by a giant crucifix. The German monument has symbolic tombs representing the different regions that fought here and names on giant plaques on the walls of the citadel-like building that houses it all. I think it was previously a German-built fort, but I am not sure. It's barely visible from the road.

As one of my fellow travellers remarked, "You can tell who won the war."


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