This was a defensive battle designed to blunt Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps offensive and to prepare the way for the British Eighth Army’s own offensive, the soon-to-be-fought Battle of El Alamein. The Battle of Alam Halfa was planned and directed by the Eighth Army’s new commander, Lieutenant-General Bernard Law Montgomery, and is described in detail in his memoirs.
As Montgomery anticipated, Rommel attacked through the minefields, hoping to outflank the southern most sector of the British line and head on to Cairo. He was halted by the British armour (the 7th Armoured Division, the 10th Armoured Division, and the 22nd Armoured Brigade) who had orders to dig in and repel the enemy. When the German attack faltered, the 2nd New Zealand Division attacked them from the north.Much of this is described in Monty’s Memoirs. Montgomery quotes from a letter he wrote at the time and in which he used a tennis analogy to describe his first encounter with the ‘Desert Fox’: “I feel that I have won the first game, when it was his service. Next time it will be my service, the score being one-love.”