by Marwan Maklad
Every year the officials and citizens from the countries that involved in El-Alamein battle come to Egypt on October 23rd to visit their soldiers and loved ones who fell in battle and to commemorate them.
El Alamein is the location known for being where the Allied forces (during WW II) won a decisive victory over the Axis forces. In addition to a few hotels and a beach resort, El Alamein also is home to a war museum with memorabilia from not only the Battle of El Alamein but many other North African battles. Just outside of town are both Italian and German military cemeteries on Tell el-Eisa Hill.
The museum is one of the best places to visit in order to achieve an understanding of the story of World War II in Egypt.
El-Alamein العلمين-in Arabic literally means “the two flags” is a town located in Matrouh governorate north-west of Egypt, 106 km west of Alexandria (my home city). It took me about an hour and a half driving to reach it. If you are coming from further out, there is an international airport that is nearby if you are willing to visit it.
This museum features items from North African campaigns of WWII, including the Battle of El-Alamein itself between the Axis and the Allies in 1942 with their very famous leaders Erwin Rommel and Bernard Montgomery.
Two important World War II battles were fought in the area:
- At the First Battle of El Alamein (1 – 27 July 1942) the advance of Axis troops on Alexandria was blunted by the Allies, stopping the German Panzers who were trying to outflank the Allies’ position.
- At the Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 4 November 1942) Allied forces broke the Axis line and forced them all the way back to Tunisia. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory: “Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” After the war, he wrote: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.”
–source Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Alamein)
The Allies chose this region while retreating to their defensive line in El Alamein for its important natural geo-position. Its north border is the Mediterranean Sea and from the south by the Qattara Depression which prevented the Axis from flanking the Allies sides. Egypt helped the Allied forces to defeat the Axis and chase them out of Egypt and in burying the casualties.
The museum consists of main sections:
-source Egyptian Ministry of Defense website.
The above was a brief introduction to the museum. For those of you that cannot visit in person, I have I taken a ton of pictures, starting from the outdoor show area (which consists of heavy weapons and equipment that have been used in the battle, including Tanks, Artillery and Anti-aircraft guns) and then I will go through the indoor showroom halls. I did my best with the pictures–a number of the items were behind glass and came out a bit hazy.