The Battle of El Alamein

AWM 025051A member of the 2/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, preparing a meal from the entrance of his dugout in the forward area on the El Alamein front. El Alamein, Egypt. 20 Sep 1942.
AWM 025051

Look carefully at the photograph.

  1. What has the soldier used to create shelter for himself? List the materials, and write down the advantages and disadvantages for each. Also list the other objects you see around him, and suggest what they are made from and what their uses may have been.

  2. The Australian soldiers in Egypt had to "share" their shelters with ants, spiders and scorpions. What is this soldier doing that will attract more insects? What should he do differently to stop attracting them?

  3. This dugout was in a "forward area", close to the fighting. How long do you think the soldier was planning to stay in that area? What are the clues that suggest this? How quickly could he move if the fighting came closer to his shelter? What does his shelter tell you about his feelings about the battle?

  4. Soldiers in battle have to eat rations. Use the Memorial's collections database to find out what rations the Australian soldiers at El Alamein had to eat. You can use words like rations, food, field kitchens and catering corps to help your search. Keep a diary of what you eat for one week. Compare your "week's rations" with other people in your class.

  5. Design your own "dugout" shelter. Show in your design drawing the necessary features. Think about what you will need in your dugout, and how long you are going to stay in it. List the materials you would use, and give reasons why you chose them.

  6. Create a 60 second dance based on "preparing a meal". Your dance can be based on a home kitchen, a bush camp or the soldier's dugout at El Alamein. Try setting your dance to the popular western music of the 1940s, or the music of Egypt.