Outpost Snipe
Outpost Snipe was the location of a famous Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 defensive action during the desert campaign in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. The defense of Outpost Snipe took place during the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

. It is particularly noteworthy due to the tenacity of the troops involved and is an excellent example of a last stand
Last stand
Last stand is a loose military term used to describe a body of troops holding a defensive position in the face of overwhelming odds. The defensive force usually takes very heavy casualties or is completely destroyed, as happened in "Custer's Last Stand" at the Battle of Little Big HornBryan Perrett...


On the night of 26/27th October 1942, the 2nd Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 of the Rifle Brigade with support troops including 19 6-pounder anti-tank gun
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

s was ordered to take possession of a desert feature known as "Snipe" - a small depression in the otherwise featureless landscape suitable for setting up a defensible base. Once completed this point would be used to launch a further advance by a larger body of troops: the 24th Armoured Brigade.

The initial advance took the battalion to what they thought was the feature "Snipe". It was, in fact, a similar depression some 900 yards south of the intended target. Having established a base, scouts were sent out who discovered that a large group of mixed Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 tanks and infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 had laagered nearby. In fact, the Battalion were in the middle of a number of enemy armoured formations. Isolated firefights and skirmishes continued through the night.

In the early morning of 27 October two tank columns passed Outpost Snipe apparently unaware of the force that lay hidden there. The troops opened fire with their 6-pounder anti-tank guns, aiming at the thin side armour of the tanks, destroying 16 tanks with no loss. However, their position was now marked, and they started to receive artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...


During the remainder of that day and the next, Outpost Snipe continued to receive fire and tank attacks, including a brief incident of friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

, the mistake being realized when observers note that the "enemy" were actually firing on the Germans. 24th Armoured Brigade attempted to advance and relieve the battalion but were repulsed.

Between 13:00 and 17:00 on 28 October the defenders of Snipe faced several attacks by enemy armour. By this time, the gunners were running short of ammunition and Lieutenant J. E. B. Toms made a mad jeep dash under fire to collect some more. He survived and brought in the ammunition but his vehicle was destroyed.

The order to withdraw was received at 23:00 that night. Only one working gun was brought back out of the outpost: the remainder were disabled before the troops withdrew.

The Battalion had suffered 72 casualties but had managed to destroy some 60 enemy vehicles.
Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 Victor Turner
Victor Buller Turner
Lieutenant-Colonel Victor Buller Turner VC CVO was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Background:Victor was born in Reading in Berkshire, the son of...

 was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

for his part in the battle.

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