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:
- Collective Hall.
- Egypt’s Hall.
- Italy’s Hall.
- Germans’ Hall.
- England’s Hall.
- Exposition Theatre and Control Centre.
-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.
Italian Semovente da 75/13 , self propelled 75mm armored mortar
Italian Cannone da 90/53 Anti Tank and Anti Aircraft 90mm gun
American Sherman Tank
Remains of the British Crusader Tank
Italian M13/40 Light Tank
British Light Tank ‘on the tag’ but I’m not sure if its British or Italian
German 57mm Anti Tank Gun
German 55mm Anti Tank Gun
British 6 pounder Anti Tank Gun
20mm and 30mm Hispano-Suiza Anti-Aircraft
German 15cm Anti Tank Gun
Axis tanks and artillery ammunition shells
Heavy ammunition shells from Rome – Berlin Axis
A box of 37mm Anti-Aircraft ammunition
50 rounds box of 20mm ammunition
British field telephones
Distance measurement / Range finder made by San Giorgio Co. – Italy
Breda M37 Machine Gun – Italy
Fiat-Ravelli Modello 1935 HMG – Italy
Breda-Safat 7.7mm Machine Gun – Italy
Breda M30 7.7mm LMG – Italy
Beretta M38 9x19mm SMG – Italy
A set of various Carcano rifles’ models – Italy
Brixia M35 – 45mm mortar – Italy
Lee-Enfield no.1 mk.3 bolt action rifle – Great Britain
Lewis LMG – Great Britain
Bren LMG – Great Britain
Another Bren LMG with a loaded magazine – Great Britain
Royal Navy soldier’s uniform with a Lanchester SMG – Great Britain
Various Lee-Enfield rifles’ models and a Lanchester SMG – Great Britain
BOYS Anti Tank Rifle – Great Britain
MG15 Machinegun – Aircraft mounted version – Germany
MG34 Machinegun mounted on a BMW motorbike – Germany
G43 semiautomatic rifle with a Mauser K98 bolt-action rifle – Germany
Aircraft mounted machineguns – Germany
Panzerbusche 39 Anti Tank Rifle – Germany
MG34 demonstrated in prone position
Mauser C96 Broom-handle – Germany
Dual barrel side-by-side flare gun – Germany
Luftwaffe air dropping bomb – Germany
Officers’ uniform – Italy
Afrika Korps soldier with his Mauser K98 rifle
British soldier with his Lee-Enfield rifle
German Luftwaffe pilot
Afrika Korps medics
Royal Air Force pilot, Cheers mate…REST IN PEACE
One of the disadvantages of the museum is sometimes the irrelevant and poor informative and wrong descriptions on the tags, which I’m not very tolerant of. I really disliked that part of the museum.
NO SIR, this can’t be a 30mm nor an ANTI-AIRCRAFT plus HISPANO-SUIZA is NOT written HAUSBANO-SUISSA,
STG-44 in EL-ALAMEIN? NO WAY
WHAT DOES A BERETTA 92 DOING THERE ANYWAY?
At the end of the tour and regardless of the disadvantages, I was proud to stand where these brave men stood, fought and died for their countries, there are cemeteries nearby of the Commonwealth , German Greek and Italian soldiers who have fallen in the battles of El-Alamein if you want to visit and honor them, and for their brave souls I’d like to stand and tell them; WE SALUTE YOU.
Below is a “sneak peek” video taken by an Egyptian newspaper that can give you a panoramic view – credits of the video goes to Youm7 newspaper.