Two pivotal battles took place in the desert west of Alexandria during World War II. These clashes between the German armored division of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and the British army were along the biggest tank battles in the war and some argue that they changed the tide of the war. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying that, “Before Al Alamein, we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat”.
The first battle of Al Alamein in June 1942 stopped the progress of the German advance across North Africa, resulting in a stalemate. Then in October of the same year, the British army, commanded by General Bernard Montgomery, launched an offensive against the German lines that managed to break their lines and pushed the German army back into Libya and ultimately into Tunisia. The battles saved both Cairo and Alexandria from German occupation and turned the tide of the war.
Today there are cemeteries commemorating the heavy losses suffered on both sides during the battle. The German and Italian cemeteries are located just north of the coastal highway between Alexandria and Mersa Matruh. The British cemetery is located to the south along with the Al Alamein Museum, which displays artifacts and leftover equipment from the battle. There are signs for all of these locations along the highway.