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:
(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:
(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
(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
(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
(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.