Devil's gardens

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An approximate location of the Devil's gardens.

The Devil's gardens was the name given by Erwin Rommel,[1] commander of the German Afrika Korps during World War II, to the defensive entanglements of land mines and barbed wire protecting Axis defensive positions during the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942. The defences stretch from the Mediterranean coast to the Qattara Depression.

A Matilda scorpion tank equipped for mine clearing.

During the 'break-in' phase of the British attack, the commander of the Eighth Army, Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery planned for engineers supporting the infantry brigades of 2nd New Zealand Division to clear lanes through the minefields, along which attacking formations would pass into the Axis positions. Engineers using hand tools were supplemented by Scorpion tanks equipped with rotating flails to explode anti-vehicle mines. The Scorpions did not work well and manual methods of clearing had to be employed, which would have been more difficult, had the minefields not been sown with more anti-personnel mines.[2]

An estimated 3 million mines were laid before the battle, most of which remain and are becoming more unstable as the years pass and injuring people who use the area.[1][3]

References

  1. ^ a b "Sixty years on and the El Alamein armaments still maim". The Daily Telegraph. 19 October 2002. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  2. ^ Schneck, William. Breaching the Devil's Garden: The 6th New Zealand Brigade in Operation Lightfoot. The Second Battle of El Alamein. 2005. US Army Communications-Electronics Command
  3. ^ "Lethal landmine legacy from battle of El Alamein". BBC News. 20 March 2010.
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