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Seventieth anniversary of Battle of El Alamein

The Battle of El Alamein, a pivotal turning point in the North African Campaign in the Second World War, started 70 years ago on October 23. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill -- becoming increasingly impatient with slow progress against German forces in the Western Desert -- handed over command to General Montgomery in 1942. Montgomery beefed up and reorganised Britain's 8th Army in North Africa. In late August, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel launched an attack, but British forces held their ground. On October 23, the 8th Army counter-attacked with Operation Lightfoot, opening paths through a minefield and clearing the way for British armoured divisions. A week later, General Montgomery launched the second phase of the attack -- Operation Supercharge -- breaking through the last of the German defences, and defeating Rommel. Thousands were killed in the last two weeks of fighting -- including Germans and Italians for the Axis, and Britons, Australians, New Zealanders, Greeks, French and Canadians on the side of the Allies. The Battle of El Alamein ended the long fight for the Western Desert, and was the only great land battle won by the British and Commonwealth forces without direct American involvement.

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