Operation Braganza

(Portuguese royal house)

This was a British small-scale operation by elements of Lieutenant General B. G. Horrocks’s XXX Corps before the launch of the 'Lightfoot' first phase of the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, and was designed to take an area near Deir el Munassib for use as the location for extra artillery deployment (29/30 September 1942).

Undertaken by Major General I. T. P. Hughes’s 44th Division, 'Braganza' was launched on the night of 29 September 1942, the operation initially involved Brigadier W. D. Stamer’s 131st Brigade, supporting armour of Brigadier M. G. Roddick’s 4th Armoured Brigade, nine regiments of field artillery and one battery of medium artillery.

On the northern side of the undertaking, the 1/6th Battalion, Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) met very little opposition, but in the south its sister unit, the 1/5th Battalion, suffered severe losses as it hit the positions held by the Italian airborne troops of Generale di Divisione Enrico Frattini’s 185th Divisione paracadutista ‘Folgore’, losing about 300 men killed, wounded and missing.

The British then attempted to relieve the survivors of the battalion and renew the attack. In the northern part of the battle, these attempts were successful after Brigadier L. G. Whistler’s 132nd Brigade took the lead when it had been discovered that, despite the fact that there had been little fighting, the 131st Brigade had suffered a great many casualties from heatstroke.

When, during the course of the following day, the relief operations and attempts to renew the attack in the south failed, Horrocks called off the operation. The losses suffered in 'Braganza' meant that some of the British units were unfit for 'Lightfoot', and Lieutenant General B. L. Montgomery, commander of the 8th Army, had to revise his intent to keep divisions together.

During the remaining period of training, this often led to bewildering interchange of units, which also created considerably extra difficulties for the command structure.