The Finest Half Hour: Second Battle of El Alamein


The twelfth episode of our World War II podcast series, "The Finest Half Hour," is now available!

A new British commander joins the fray. He is eccentric, infatuated with good press, but also perhaps just the genius they need. His name is Bernard Montgomery and he is taking on "the Desert Fox"—Erwin Rommel. In this episode we witness two of the greatest foes of the war match wits. Both sides feel they are near a turning point. Just one more push and the war in the desert might finally come to an end?  Which way will the pendulum swing?

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To help tell the story, we’ve partnered up with The Tank Museum, Bovington to showcase an M4A1 Sherman tank, which helped turn the tide at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. After the Fall of Tobruk, Churchill asked President Roosevelt for help defending Egypt and the Suez Canal. The U.S. shipped 300 of the new Sherman M4A1s around the Cape of Good hope. They arrived in September, just in time for the battle. The new tanks were more reliable and better armored than the German light and medium tanks of 1939-1942. They also outclassed the M13/40s and M14/41s fielded by the Italians.

The Tank Museum’s M4A1 is the oldest surviving example of this model. It has two significant features not seen on later production Shermans. One is the main armament sight, set in the top of the turret; the other is the extra pair of machine-guns, operated by the driver, at the front. The tank was the first Sherman tank to be delivered to the UK under the Lend-Lease Act. It was nicknamed Michael, after Michael Dewar, head of the UK’s Tank mission in Washington, D.C.

German troops outside Warsaw
A Sherman M4A1 tank at The Tank Museum, Bovington.
(Photo: The Tank Museum, Bovington)
Sherman M4A1 "Michael" offloaded in front of Horse Guards Parade (near Whitehall, London), where it was displayed in 1942.
(Photo: The Tank Museum, Bovington)

The Finest Half Hour is a podcast series that dives into the history and stories of World War II. It is brought to you by Wargaming and narrated by British Army veteran, and armored warfare instructor, Richard Cutland.

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If you missed the first episode, please take a listen.

Close the hatch, brace yourself, and prepare for the Finest Half Hour!

Richard "The Challenger" Cutland

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