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Destiny in the Desert: The road to El Alamein - the Battle that Turned the Tide by Jonathan Dimbleby

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– FIFTEEN –DEADLOCK

‘A very dangerous man while being a very charming one!’

Alan Brooke on George Marshall

At the Gazala front, the Eighth Army waited in the wasteland, rehearsing for battle and reinforcing its defences. The Gazala Line was not an unbroken chain of defensive works like the Maginot Line but a series of ‘boxes’ – like castles in the sand, or ‘cowpats’, as cynical officers described them – linked by a chain of minefields. One infantryman ‘digging-in’ at one of these boxes described how his men first dug pits in which to conceal the Bren guns, then a narrow slit trench for a pair of riflemen, and finally ‘bivvy holes’ in which they lived and slept. ‘These holes, usually six feet square, went as deep as the digger’s patience; probably ...

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