Mersa Matruh

Collection type Place
  • North Africa
  • Western Desert
  • Western Desert (Egypt)
  • Mersa Matruh

Mersa Matruh is an ancient town on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, 290 kilometres west of Alexandria. In 1941 Matruh was the terminus of the railway Cairo and also a small port. Thus, when the Axis forces advanced on the Libya-Egypt frontier in April 1941, the British Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean, General Sir Archibald Wavell, decided to base his defence around Matruh, and only deploy light, mobile forces along the frontier. The Matruh area was developed into a strong defensive position known as a "box" and heavily fortified with minefields, anti-tank obstacles, barbed wire entanglements and a series of smaller defended areas. Its defences were not tested in 1941 but the renewed German advance of early-mid 1942 surrounded it on 26 June. The British garrison, X Corps, broke out of the German cordon on the night of 28 June and Matruh s passed into enemy hands, and was subsequently the site of General Erwin Rommel's headquarters. After the British victory in the second battle of El Alamein, Matruh was recaptured on 8 November. Today Matruh is a popular resort town and the site of a museum established in Rommel's former headquarters by his son.

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