The hardscrabble township of El Alamein, about 112 kilometers west of Alexandria, holds a fascinating place in modern world history. It was across this parched piece of nondescript desert that the Allies’ first decisive victory in World War II’s North Africa campaign was won. The bloody battles that took place here in October 1942 killed or wounded more than 80,000 soldiers from countries as varied as Australia, New Zealand, India, and Great Britain (Allies), as well as Germany and Italy (Axis Forces).
Today, the war memorials that stand are a poignant reminder of the 13 days of fighting that claimed so many lives. The rather excellent El Alamein War Museum does a good job of giving an overview to the El Alamein campaign, with plenty of military memorabilia displayed. The Commonwealth Cemetery is a beautifully kept tribute to the fallen, with the 7,000 tombstones in regimented rows between well-tended desert plants.
Just north of town, along the coastal highway, is the boxy German Memorial, where most of the 4,500 German dead are buried, and another couple of kilometers north is the Italian Memorial, which is also home to a tiny, but interesting, museum