Montgomery prepares to attack
23rd September 1942: As the Eighth Army builds up in Western Desert units with varying degrees of experience prepare for battle
Rommel's attack on the British lines at El Alamein had been beaten off but this time the British had not attempted to pursue him. So the British and German armies were now in largely static positions facing each other in the Desert.
Montgomery was determined not to attack until he was completely ready. The Eighth Army was being steadily re-enforced as more troops arrived from Britain, having taken the long way round Africa and up the Suez canal.
Montgomery had never felt that he personally ‘needed to get his knees brown’ before planning his strategy in the desert. But he was prepared to spend much time preparing and training all his men for the forthcoming assault. His commitment to this approach had been the hallmark of his entire career.
For newcomers to the desert it was an uncomfortable process of acclimatisation - coping with "the usual diseases that afflict new troops when they first arrive in the Middle East - dysentery, 'gyppy tummy', sandfly fever, desert jaundice".
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