El Alamein - the chase is on
4th November 1942: As Rommel starts to retreat the British Eighth Army begins a pursuit west across the desert - and starts collecting up thousands of prisoners
In North Africa Rommel still felt constrained by Hitler’s order not to retreat - but events were overtaking this ‘impossible’ order.
The picture in the early afternoon of the 4th was as follows: powerful enemy armoured forces ... had burst a 19-kilometre hole in our front, through which strong bodies of tanks were moving to the west. As a result of this, our forces in the north were threatened with encirclement by enemy formations 20 times their number in tanks ... There were no reserves, as every available man and gun had been put into the line. So now it had come, the thing we had done everything in our power to avoid – our front broken and the fully motorised enemy streaming into our rear. Superior orders could no longer count. We had to save what there was to be saved.
Keith Douglas1 was now in the stream of British Armour breaking out from the bridgehead. His group of Crusader tanks were flying along at 30mph, flinging up huge clouds of dust and overrunning small groups of enemy all the time.
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