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Afrika Korps

The Afrika Korps was a German military force sent to North Africa in 1941 in support of the Italian troops that the British defeated during the Second World War. Their commander was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox.

James Foster
James Foster
Mar 04, 20153.9K Shares61.1K Views
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  1. Scenario War - Africa
  2. The Battle Of El Alamein
Afrika Korps

The Afrika Korpswas a German military force sent to North Africa in 1941 in support of the Italian troops that the British defeated during the Second World War. Their commander was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox.

He had a brilliant performance, always fighting at a disadvantage against the British troops, until they were finally defeated after a series of brilliant victories in the Second Battle of El Alamein(from 23 October to 03 November 1942 ) by British troops commanded by General Bernard Law Montgomery.

Scenario War - Africa

North Africa provided a huge war zone, as the desert of Libya, stretching over thousands of miles of sand to Egypt, with virtually no obstacles. This scenario allowed almost unlimited mechanized forces to implement the purest-form possible operational combat maneuvers by highly mobile, free from hills, towns or points on which a strong lock was established. The art of war was precisely the skill of most the Wehrmacht.

The strip of sea that separates Africa from Italy was short but was not without great danger, both by air and by water. Thanks to an effective permanent naval force in the Mediterranean, the British did not stop feeding to prevent the spread of the shaft in Africa. The danger in this was to add the British colonial presence in Malta.

Background And Initial Steps

The invasion of Greece had also weakened the British position in North Africa. On 12 February 1941, Adolf Hitler sent in support of the Italian Afrika Korps to the newly formed army under the command of Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel. Rommel would be the second in command of the North African Army, commanded by Italian General Italo Gariboldi .

Rommel arrived in Tripoli, bringing the art of war fully developed and assimilated. His mission was to keep the front line and to support the Italians, leaving the British to expel the Axis forces in Africa to avoid opening another potential front in the south of Europe.

A few days after arriving with his army, Rommel carried out the offensive and led the Axis troops in a succession of victories, defeating British troops in the battles of Gazala, Tobruk and Mersa Matruh. At all times, the German-Italian army was in clearly inferior, both in troops and in supplies.

However, the poor organization of the British army allowed the unique experience of the German army at the battle of movement, leading to overwhelming victories in the hands of Rommel. That was how the German Marshall was known as El Zorro del Desierto (the Desert Fox), becoming a legend and being feared and even admired by his enemies, creating an aura of invincibility around him.


In late March, the Afrika Korps attacked the undefended British troops present in Libya under the command of General Wavell. The audacity of Rommel and his valuable experience in the use of tanks completely surprised the British troops. In mid-April, the Germans reached the border of Egypt, captured the general O’Connor and isolated the port of Tobruk, where an Australian garrison tried to resist.

Wavell urgently requested reinforcements and in May he was believed to be in a position to launch a counterattack. Despite the initial success, it was a failure. In June, he tried to straighten out a new offensive. In July, Wavell was relieved and took over General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Over the next six months, Auchinleck focused and organized his troops and the British Commonwealth and began preparing a campaign aimed at freeing Tobruk and retrieving Libya.

After a failed attempt in November to break the siege of Tobruk, Auchinleck troops achieved their goal on 10 December on the Tobruk site, but with a very high price in men and material. The British continued to the city of Benghazi, which ranked 24th of the same month. However, the British success was temporary.

On 21 January of 1942, Rommel returned to the attack, regaining Tobruk, with the British forces falling back on the 28th to the west. After a lull of nearly four months, Rommel resumed the offensive on 27 May, arriving in late June to the vicinity of El Alamein. Thanks to the victory in Tobruk, Rommel reached the military ranks and received the baton of Field Marshal.

The Battle Of El Alamein

El Alamein is a town that is 106 km far from Alexandria and the Delta of the Nile, the target of Germany and Italian forces. However, the implementation of Operation Blue in Asia caused the focus to leave Africa and thus the German supplies. Thus, Rommel’s army began to suffer enormous problems of supply. In addition, the 16 June Anglo-American convoy reached Malta and ended the German air raids on the island.

Later this month, the Allies of the isle began an offensive against the Axis supply convoys on their way to North Africa, leaving Rommel’s troops virtually abandoned without supplies or gasoline. Rommel’s troops managed to maintain their positions, and on 10 July, a series of small counterattacks occurred. Auchinleck reorganized his troops with now more numerous and virtually unlimited resources around El Alamein, planning the attack on the Afrika Korps, the battered, exhausted and very weak from time to fight relentlessly.

On 1 July, Rommel, knowing that soon a large contingent of U.S. troops would come to Egypt as a reinforcement of British troops, seized the last opportunity he had in his hands to defeat the British and attacked at El Alamein in the First Battle of El Alamein. However, he accepted the British and the offense stalled on 27 July.

In August, Auchinleck was replaced as commander in chief by General Harold Alexander. Lt. Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery took command as chief of operations of the Western Desert forces, grouped around the British Eighth Army (known as the Desert Rats).

Thus, Montgomery held a major attack against the Axis fragile defensive line following the pattern of “war of attrition”, on October 23 starting the Second Battle of El Alamein. On 3 November, Rommel ordered what was left of his troops but Hitler countermanded to resist ordering to the last man and as a result, Rommel’s troops were completely defeated.

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