The Day Rommel Was Stopped

The Battle of Ruweisat Ridge, 2 July 1942

F. R. Jephson, Chris Jephson

The battle of 2 July 1942 at Ruweisat Ridge in North Africa is not well known but it was the day that Rommel was finally stopped. This account was written by an officer in the small British force that turned back Rommel's forces.
Date Published :
March 2022
Publisher :
Illustration :
photos and maps
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Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636241272
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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George VI’s biographer, Sir John Wheeler Bennett wrote “The actual turning of the tide in the 2nd World War may be accurately determined as the first week of July 1942.” This book argues that it is possible to be even more exact: the tide turned at about 21.00 hrs. on 2 July 1942, when Rommel’s tanks withdrew for the first time since the fall of Tobruk on 20 June, or arguably since 14 January 1942 at El Agheila.

At dusk on Wednesday 1 July 1942, Rommel broke through the center of the British defenses at Alamein. His tanks had overwhelmed the gallant defense of the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade in the Deir el Shein at the foot of the Ruweisat Ridge. At that moment, and for the next twelve hours, there was no further organized defense between the spearhead of the Afrika Korps and Alexandria. Throughout the next day, only a handful of men and guns stood between Rommel and his prize.

In Cairo, black clouds of smoke from burning files showed that many people believed Rommel would not stop short of the Suez Canal, his stated objective. But, on Friday 3 July at 22.56 hrs., only 48 hours later, Rommel called off his attack and ordered his troops to dig in where they stood. The Delta was saved. Just a few weeks earlier, the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade, which took the brunt of the initial attack on 1 July, and the guns of the small column known as Robcol that stopped Rommel on 2 and 3 of July, had been in northern Iraq. General Auchinleck's desperate measure, pulling them 1,500 miles from Iraq into the Western desert, just succeeded but it greatly increased the price of failure.

If Robcol had failed, it is doubtful that Rommel would have stopped at the canal; it does not require much imagination to see his forces threatening to link up with Barbarossa in the Ukraine. This vivid account of the battle of Ruweisat Ridge, the beginning of the battle of Alamein, was written by an officer who was part of Robcol on the fateful day.

About The Author

Born in 1918, Major Jephson attended Rossall School and then joined the Manchester Artillery, 52nd Field Regiment RA, TD. He served in France, then went to India where he joined the 11th Field Regiment RA. He served with them in the 4th Indian Division through North Africa, Italy and Greece. He returned to civilian life in 1946 and spent the next 33 years in various management roles in Unilever with periods overseas in Indonesia, Holland and Belgium.

Chris Jephson was born in 1947, and has lived overseas most of his life although he was educated in the UK, ending with a BSc in Politics, Economics and Philosophy. He has worked all over the world, in the shipping industry. In 1976 he joined the Maersk Group in Denmark and instead of retiring at the end of 2011, obtained the company's agreement to write a book on the history of part of the company. This was published as Creating Global Opportunities, Maersk Line in Containerisation 1973–2013 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and in Danish by Gyldendal.


Main Protagonists
Preface: July 1942
Introduction: June 1967–October 1968

1 Prelude
2 No Eighth Army Clasp
3 The Line That Wasn’t
4 The Will of the Commander
5 Approach to Battle, June 1942
6 Approach to Battle, 27 June–1 July 1942
7 The Brigadier’s Battle Map
8 Two Diaries
9 11th HAC’s March to the Sound of Gunfire
10 Robcol and 2 July 1942
11 A Visit to the Guns and Nightfall

Postscript: In Recognition
Addendum 1: The Men of Robcol
Addendum 2: 83rd/85th Field Battery Gun Summary
Addendum 3: 2 July 1942 as a Turning Point in the War
Appendix: The Order of Battle: A Research Summary

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