|The Second Battle of Ruweisat Ridge|
|by Paul Rohrbaugh|
Ruweisat Ridge, Egypt, 22 July 1942 -- On July 14, 1942 the first of a series of actions in what would become collectively known as “First Alamein” began when General Rommel launched his initial attacks on the final Allied defensive line before the Nile. Although these initial attacks were thwarted, the German and Italian forces continued to grow in strength. To forestall any further attacks, General Auchinleck ordered immediate counterattacks with whatever forces at hand. One of these was the newly arrived 23rd Armoured Brigade. Together with elements from the 2nd New Zealand Division, the attack was to clear the enemy from the positions along the Ruweisat Ridge that commanded the middle of the Allied line. Most of the tank crewmen were novices and for many the ride in the front was also their first.
North Africa: 1940-1943 - Balaclava All Over Again: The Second Battle of Ruweisat Ridge
Note: This scenario makes use of the North Africa: 1940-1943 Map Guide maps.
Scenario NA-2: Balaclava All Over Again: The Second Battle of Ruweisat Ridge
(4.0 MB zipped pdf)
I saw great clouds of black smoke. Then the wreckage of the attack coming back. The tank wounded, half naked. Mortar bombs falling…there must have been a kind of madness at the Army Command, a feeling that there was a once and for all chance to drive the enemy back and that all risks must be taken in the hope of success.
--Tom Witherby of the 46th Tank Regiment/23rd Armoured Brigade
The Kiwis had to jump-off at the start of the attack without the promised tank support, and were almost immediately pinned down by the heavy defensive fire coming from the Axis positions on Ruweisat Ridge. When the tanks did show up they also came under heavy fire that threw the attackers into confusion. A timely counter-attack by the 15th Panzer inflicted heavy losses upon the British Stuart tanks. This turned into a rout when the 21st Panzer showed up. By the time the attack was called off only 7 of the 23rd Armoured Brigade’s 87 tanks survived and nearly a thousand New Zealanders were killed, missing or captured. It was like the charge of the Light Brigade, only with tanks.