Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Terrain of the Battle Area

Terrain of the Battle Area

The 35 miles of front extending from the sea to the Qattara Depression was mostly barren, rocky desert with, in the central part, two almost parallel rocky ridges, Ruweisat and Alam el Halfa. In the southern half of the line the desert was more irregular with some shallow depressions, including Deir el Munassib and Deir page 378 el Ragil, and more isolated and shorter high ridges, the general level of the country being higher. On the north, sand dunes and low-lying soft sand, impassable after rain, lay between the coastal road and the sea, and the railway ran close to and south of the road. The main coastal road was the only road right up into Libya. Otherwise travel by car was difficult and rough, throwing a great strain on the seriously wounded men during evacuation. Areas of soft sand had frequently to be avoided or negotiated. Tracks were constructed by the Army with the help of bulldozers, and these helped both to make the motor traffic easier and to allow definite axes to be given to the different formations. These tracks were picturesquely designated with signs, such as Sun, Moon, Hat, Barrel, all running parallel to the coastal road. At intervals there were roads at right angles which facilitated cross communication and access to the coastal road; they were given names such as Springbok, Sydney, and Bombay to signify the composition of the Army.

The evacuation of wounded in comfort was possible only by the coastal road and railway, though there was an old road alongside the railway which, though not in very good condition, was available and was utilised to some extent.