About Italian El Alamein Memorial
The Italian El Alamein Memorial or ‘Sacrario italiano a El Alamein’ is a white octagonal monument to the 4,800 Italian soldiers who died in the 1942 Battle of El Alamein and the approximately 38,000 missing. There is also a nearby chapel.
Italian El Alamein Memorial history
The memorial stands in the wide desert plain where the great battles of El Alamein were fought in World War Two. The memorial monument has a wide path rimmed by flowering shrubs leading up to the imposing octagonal tower.
The campaign in the Western Desert was fought between the Allied forces based in Egypt and the Axis forces based in Libya. The battlefield, across which the fighting surged back and forth between 1940 and 1942, was the 1,000 kilometres of desert between Alexandria in Egypt and Benghazi in Libya. It was a complex campaign, the goal being control of the Mediterranean, the link with the east through the Suez Canal, the Middle East oil supplies and the supply route to Russia through Persia.
At the Battle of El Alamein and the immediate retreat following, Italian losses were particularly severe.
The driving force behind the construction of the memorial was Paolo Caccia Dominioni, an Italian soldier, engineer and writer who had been at the battle. Dominioni designed the memorial and it was constructed between 1954 and 1958 by the Italian government on the site of the Italian cemetery that had been there since 1943.
Italian El Alamein Memorial today
The Italian war memorial is the largest structure at El Alamein’s Battlefield.
At the roadside entrance to the memorial, there is a small one-room museum displaying maps, artillery, photographs and other artefacts from the battle. Most of the information is in Italian only, although there are a couple of translations into English and Arabic.
In front of the memorial, on the left side of the road, there is a large rock milestone. Inscribed on it is the Italian summary of the battle: ‘Mancò la fortuna, non il valore’ , which translates to ‘We were short on luck, not on bravery’.
Getting to Italian El Alamein Memorial
The memorial is located at the Tel el Elsa Hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding desert.
Alamein is a village, bypassed by the main coast road, approximately 130 kilometres west of Alexandria on the road to Mersa Matruh. The first road direction sign is located just beyond the Alamein police checkpoint and visitors are directed to turn off from the main road onto the parallel old coast road. The cemetery lies off the road, slightly beyond a ridge. The Cross of Sacrifice feature may be seen from the road.