The Principles of War Podcast
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150th Anniversary of Australian ArtilleryArtilleryPodcastThe Battles of El Alamein

88 – The Role of Artillery at 2nd Alamein

This is part of our 150 years of Artillery commemoration project in conjunction with the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company.

We look at the roles of 2nd Alamein Artillery, including how it integrated with all of the forces within 8th Army.

Renown awaits the Commander who first in this war restores artillery to its prime importance upon the battlefield, from which it has been ousted by heavily armoured tanks. “
This is a quote from Winston Churchill in a memo sent on October 7th, 1941, and is generally thought to apply to Montgomery for the work that he did at 2nd El Alamein.

2nd Alamein is the apogee of Australian Artillery in the Second World War and we will look at the role that BRIG Ramsay from 9th Div Arty built a team and capability to support the 9th Div and MAJ GEN Morshead.

We will look at each of the roles within the Artillery played during the battle:

  • Field Artillery
  • Medium and Heavy Artillery
  • Anti Aircraft Artillery
  • Survey
  • Anti Tank Artillery
  • Met
  • Comms
  • C2

How did Montgomery, Morshead, and Ramsay, the Commander, Royal Artillery, (CRA) in 9th Division do to ensure that the C2 required to mass Artillery?  How did they develop the tactics, techniques and 

We also look at the DAK employment of Artillery.  Of note, more casualties were caused by mortars than field artillery. 

Deception planning was critical at 2nd Alamein – have a listen to the 2 part episode on Op Bertram, the deception plan that supported 2nd El Alamein.

What lessons were learnt from Exercise Bumper?  This was probably the largest military exercise ever conducted, with 2 Corp on each side.  Run by LT GEN Alan Brooke.  BRIG Kirkman was the Artillery umpire for Ex Bumper and he saw the shambles that was Artillery C2 during Bumper and worked to develop processes to support flexibility and rapid massing of the guns.  This doctrine would first be realised in action at 2nd El Alamein.  

Shelford Bidwell, “What is deplorable in an exercise and a crime in war was the general failure to provide effective artillery support in the shape of planned and organised fire.  The guiding principle for any artilleryman, whether he is supporting a company or a corps, is that the infantry must never be allowed to go into the attack without carefully planned covering fire, from every available gun based on the best available information about the enemy.”

LT GEN Sidney Kirkman
LT GEN Sir Sidney Kirkman, Montgomery’s artillery advisor. He had worked with Monty during Ex Bumper, the anti invasion exercise and was requested by Monty to command the El Alamein Artillery.
Alan Ramsay, CRA, 9th Division would be promoted to MAJ GEN and command the 11th Division in 1944.
Alan Ramsay, CRA, 9th Division would be promoted to MAJ GEN and command the 11th Division in 1944.

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