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Supplying Montgomery

A 'Winston Special' Troop Convoy for the Middle East
The Axis endured losses of up to 44% at sea & were forced to undertake extremely inefficient measures, transporting fuel, troops & vehicles by air
One of hundreds of new Sherman tanks delivered from America in time for Montgomery's offensive

Montgomery's strategy at Alamein was entirely dependent on the safe delivery of supplies and reinforcements drawn from across the globe. The principal supply route ran from Britain and the United States, around the Cape of Good Hope and up through the Red Sea, a distance of 14,000 miles. During the five months leading up to the Alamein offensive 8th Army was massively reinforced and re-equipped via this route, with over 97% of cargoes and more than 99% of troops arriving without loss.

"Rommel greatly underestimated the importance of Naval co-operation during this campaign - I was not in favour of the Alamein offensive because of the impossibility of maintaining the lines of supply." Vice Admiral Weichold, German Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean

Balance of Forces at El Alamein 23 October 1942
  Axis Forces Allied Forces


104,000 195,000
Tanks 496 1,029
Artillery 1,368 2,359
Aircraft 350 530

Denying Rommel

Rommel was also entirely dependent on maritime supply, a situation experienced by few other German Commanders. In the five months leading up to Alamein the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force maintained an intense offensive against Axis Shipping, their attacks frequently guided by electronic intelligence. This allowed them to particularly target key operational supplies, such as fuel.

By the eve of El Alamein Rommel had only 4 days of fuel for his Panzer forces, as opposed to the 15 days reserve he had expected.

Lieutenant Leslie Bennington DSO DSC and HMS Porpoise

In the period before Alamein Royal Navy submarines inflicted the largest losses on Axis shipping. HMS Porpoise, under the command of Lieutenant L W A Bennington, sank 7 Axis ships in the latter half of 1942 - over 20,000 tons of shipping - including a 10,000 ton tanker and an Italian torpedo boat. Lt. Bennington was awarded the DSO for his achievements.

Porpoise played an additional role in the Mediterranean campaign by delivering fuel to Malta. The "PCS" on her flag stood for "Porpoise Carrier Service".

Leslie Bennington Leslie Bennington 
Crew of the Porpoise Crew of the Porpoise