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The Desert War in North Africa

(plus The Seige of Malta, the Loss of Crete and Defeat in Greece)

Question: Name the town and port on the North Africa coast that was bravely held by the allies while twice being besieged by Rommel before he eventually captured it?

Answer: Tobruk  

Question: What nickname did the British troops give to Rommel, the commander of the Afrika Korps in the desert war?

Answer: The Desert Fox 

Question: To which country did the King award the George Cross for their gallantry during the War.

Answer: Malta The George Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded to civilians and ranks equal to the Victoria Cross which is awarded to servicemen.

Question: In which country did the two battles of El Alamein take place?

Answer: Egypt 

Question: What was the nickname of the British 7th Amoured Division which fought with the Eighth Army in North Africa and afterwards was involved in D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and the invasion of Germany?  (Hint: Today the nickname is used by the 7th Armoured Brigade.)

Answer: The Desert Rats 

Question: What was the name of the British defensive line in North Africa that consisted of a series of  “defensive boxes” that Rommel routed in June 1942 and which led to the British withdrawal to El Alamein? 

Answer: The Gazala Line 

Question: Who did Churchill appoint as the British Commander-in-Chief in North Africa in the summer of 1942 who oversaw the successful Second Battle of El Alamein before becoming Army Group Commander of the British Eighth Army and the Anglo-American 1st Army?

Question: Who commanded the British Army at the First Battle of El Alamein in 1942?

Answer: General Claude Auckinleck. (General Montgomery commanded the British Army at the Second Battle of El Alamein.)

Question: What is the name of the physical feature on the southern flank of the British Army at El Alamein that prevented Rommel from undertaking one of his trade-mark outflanking manoeuvres?

Answer: The Qattara Depression  This an area that lies below sea level and is covered with salt pans, sand dunes and salt marshes making it unsuitable for tank warfare because of the high incidence of quick sand.  

Question: At which battle in North Africa, being the first for American troops in WW2, were they defeated by Rommel?

Answer: Battle of Kasserine Pass  

Question: Name the battle that the British Eighth Army fought and won between the First and Second Battles of El Alamein.

Answer: Battle of Alam el Halfa (Also known as the Battle of Alam Halfa) 

Question: Who took over command of the RAF in Malta in the summer of 1942 and defeated the Luftwaffe?

Answer: Air Marshall Keith Park He had been the principle RAF commander in the Battle of Britain.

Question: Where during the Desert War in 1942 would you have found the Knightsbridge Box?

Answer: On the Gazala Line It was a British Brigade defensive position on the Gazzala Line south of Gazzala and Tobruk.  This position was overrun by Rommel in June 1942 as he pushed the British Eighth Army back into Egypt.

Question: During World War 2, where did Germany and its Axis partners suffer the biggest loss in terms of soldiers captured as Prisoners of War? Stalingrad or Tunisia?

Answer: Tunisia The Tunisia Campaign was the last act of the war in North Africa.  230,000 German & Axis troops were taken prisoner in Tunisia compared to 91,000 in Stalingrad.

Question: Who was the successful General who commanded British troops in the Desert during the early part of the campaign until his capture by the Germans?

Answer: General Richard O’Connor His success in defeating a very much larger Italian Army led to Rommel and the Afrika Korps being sent to North Africa. 

Question: Who was appointed Governor of Malta in the spring of 1942 at a most crucial point in the war in the Mediterranean?

Answer: Lord Gort  He had previously been the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France prior to Dunkirk.

Question: Who commanded the Allied troops, based around the Australian 9th Division, during the first seige of Tobruk in 1941?

Answer: Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead Although he saw service in both the First & Second World Wars, Morshead served with the Australian (part-time) Militia and between the Wars had a successful career with the Orient Shipping Line,  Despite his successful defence of Tobruk he was passed over for command of XXX Corps at the second Battle of  El Alamein by Montgomery on the basis of a lack of military knowledge. 

Question: Name the battle fought next by the British Eight Army after the 2nd Battle of El Alamein?

Answer: Battle of Mareth aka Battle of the Mareth Line   From El Alamein, Rommel had retreated across Libya and 100 mile inside Tunisia where he established a strong defensive position at Mareth. 

Question: General Montgomery designed the Second Battle of El Alamein as one where British and Commonwealth troops would slowly wear down and degrade the enemy’s resources until they had insufficient left to maintain their position. What is the military term for this type of tactic?

Answer: A Crumbling Operation