[Lone Sentry: WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
[Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Rommel's Defenses of Stabilized Position at El Alamein" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on German defense measures used by Rommel and the Africa Corps at El Alamein, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 32, August 26, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A well-organized defense capable of quickly and effectively reverting to the attack, with cunning and deception concealing movements and dispositions, can sometimes offset numerical superiority.

Due to the great length of front and shortage of troops at El Alamein, Rommel modified the traditional German system of defense in depth to a defensive square pattern as revealed in a recent report from Allied sources. Use of such a system is a possibility in fortifying the Mediterranean coast line.

(1) The usual German defense in depth may be diagrammed as follows:

[Figure 1]

(2) At El Alamein, Rommel used two main defensive belts (forward and rear) from 3,281 to 7,655 yards in depth connected by dividing belts at intervals of 4,370 to 5,470 yards, thus forming a series of hollow areas, which may be diagrammed as follows:

[Figure 2]

(3) The "hollow squares" formed by such a defensive pattern are characterized as follows:

(a) Designed on topographical basis with artillery placed so as to cover entire area:

(b) Act as traps for troops who succeed in penetrating forward defenses;

(c) Permit enfilade fire from either or both of "dividing walls" and rear position;

(d) Artillery disposed for defensive fire throughout front with particular concentration on the "hollow squares."

(e) Minefields give additional protection in these "hollows", which were called "devils gardens" by Rommel.

(4) The forward defense belt, thinly manned, was protected by minefields and listening posts. These were for prevention of surprise and deception rather than defense.

(5) Main advantages of such a defense are:

(a) Permits covering of wide front with a minimum number of men;

(b) Protects troops from hostile artillery fire which is usually concentrated on forward defense belt.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page


Web LoneSentry.com