The Second Battle of El Alamein is generally regarded as one of the most significant in the North African campaign, crippling the Axis powers and leading to an Allied victory. Churchill placed the British general Bernard Montgomery, know for his cleverness, adaptability, and popularity with the troops, in command of the Allied forces. Leading the Axis powers was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, known as the "Desert Fox" for his mastery of strategy.
El Alamein was located 150 miles west of Cairo, with the topography of the region limiting tactical options. The battle front was a forty-mile-long line reaching the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Qattara Depression to the south. Although Rommel's position was highly fortified, with a 5-mile deep mine field, the Allied attacks on his supply lines meant that he was not equipped for a long engagement. Montgomery's forces also outnumbered Rommel's. At the start of the battle, the Allied forces had roughly 200,000 men and 1,000 tanks, including 300 of the new and powerful Sherman tanks. In contrast, the Germans started with 110,000 men and 500 tanks. Not only was the battle a major victory, but it kept the Suez Canal a safe supply line for Allied forces and pushed the Axis powers out of North Africa. It is widely considered a turning point in the war, shifting momentum from the Axis to the Allied powers in the west.