2/48th Australian Battalion

Armoured Fist

“C” Company, 2/48th Australian Battalion – Alamein, Egypt 1942

Volunteers from South Australia, “C” Company of the 2/48th Battalion were part of the famous 9th Australian Division, veterans of Tobruk in 1941 and the fighting in July 1942 which stopped Afrika Korps at Alamein. During the fighting at Tel el Eisa in July, “C” Company was encircled by panzers, but the company refused to yield, and drove off the panzers with sticky bombs and artillery fire. When the company commander, Captain D. (Mick) Bryant, was asked about the situation he coolly replied “She’s sweet”, a comment which became a byword with the battalion. Bryant would be awarded the Military Cross.

On the night of 23/24th October “C” Company was part of Eighth Army’s famous offensive at Alamein, the company successfully taking its objectives with few losses. On the 25/26th October “C” Company attacked in another night attack, this time with Trig 29, a low hill, their objective. Riding on Carriers, “C” Company raced onto the objective, just as the artillery’s creeping barrage lifted. 

In fierce fighting with bayonet and grenade, more than a hundred soldiers from 125. Panzergrenadier Regiment were captured or killed.

This operation was to have a vital impact on the battle, convincing Rommel that Eighth Army was about to break through in the Australian sector, and forcing him to commit his reserves in that sector into a battle of attrition. For two days German forces launched 25 attacks against 2/48th Battalion on Trig 29. Each attack was met by crushing artillery bombardments from British and Australian artillery and rifle and machine-gun from the infantry in their front-line trenches. One artillery officer calculated that the German attacks were met by artillery fire of 248 shells per minute.

9th Australian Division
Australian Rifle/MG team On the night of 30/31st as part of the strategy of keeping the pressure on in the northern sector October “C” Company attacked again. It was an appallingly difficult task – the company had barely fifty riflemen, simply getting to the start line before the attack was across a wrecked and blasted battlefield under artillery fire at night, and then the objectives lay almost two miles away through the most heavily fortified defences at Alamein.

Following the creeping barrage, “C” Company fought their way forward to their first objective with bayonet and grenade. “A” Company was supposed to pass through “C” Company, and take the final objective. However, “A” Company ran into intense machine-gun fire, losing many men including their commander.

Captain Bryant amalgamated the remnants of “A” Company with “C” Company, and the combined companies – numbering just 45 men – pushed ahead with fixed bayonets. Hand to hand fighting raged against German machine-gun posts. Eventually the survivors were forced to stop short of their final objective.

The next day the survivors of “C” Company huddled in their foxholes as a tank battle raged around them. During this fighting Captain Bryant was wounded. So horrendous were 2/48th Battalion’s losses, that it took just two trucks to transport the battalion when it was withdrawn. Nevertheless, the sacrifice of “C” Company attained its broader objectives – Afrika Korps shifted its last reserves into the north to meet the Australian attacks, leaving their southern flank too weak to resist the imminent British offensive there.

Recruitment poster
Aussie in the Desert
El Alamein Division Positions

Gaming the Action

The battle fo Alamein for 2/48th Australian Battalion can be refought in a series of battles.
In the first, an Australian Rifle Company (Rifle Company, page 57 of Armoured Fist with the ANZAC Rifle Company command card) with artillery support attacks at night against Italian Fucileri (Bersaglieir Rifle Company, page 29 of Avanti with the Legions of Rome command card) in a No Retreat mission.

The second battle could be the Bridgehead mission, with the Australians holding out on Trig 29 against repeated assaults by Africa Rifles and Panzers.

The last battle is another No Retreat battle against Panzergrenadiers (Africa Rifle Company, page 27 of Africa Korps). 

Aussies advance on an 88

Last Updated On Tuesday, January 11, 2022 by Wayne at Battlefront