20 June 2012
Veterans who served New Zealand in North Africa are invited to register their expressions of interest in attending commemorations for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, to be held in Egypt in October this year.
This commemoration will recognise all New Zealanders who served in the North African campaign, which was the longest and most important land campaign fought by New Zealanders in the Second World War.
Almost 10,000 New Zealanders were killed or wounded, and more than 4,000 became prisoners of war during the North African Campaign. More than 1100 New Zealanders are buried in the El Alamein Commonwealth War Graves cemetery – the largest number of New Zealanders buried in one cemetery outside New Zealand.
Three Kiwis were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for their part in these battles – Charles Upham, Keith Elliott and Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu.
To be eligible, veterans need to have attested into, and served with the New Zealand Armed Forces in the North African campaign between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943, or be New Zealanders who served with the Royal Navy as members of the New Zealand Naval Forces. Veterans will have been awarded the Africa Star.
Veterans wishing to travel to Egypt will need to meet strict medical and fitness criteria to ensure they are well enough to travel as part of the delegation and participate in the commemorative events.
Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway, said that this is a great opportunity for veterans who served New Zealand in the North African campaign to return to Egypt.
"We are proud to be able to take New Zealand veterans to the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, and allow them to remember their time there, as well as pay tribute to those who did not return home," Mr Ottaway said.
Costs associated with travel, accommodation, transport and medical costs will be met by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.
While there are potentially significant health and security risks involved with travelling to Egypt, the New Zealand Government is continually monitoring the security situation, and veterans will only be taken to Egypt for the commemoration should it be safe for them to attend. More information about the security situation in Egypt can be found at http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/destinations/egypt.shtml.
Commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein will also take place in New Zealand.
Veterans wishing to register interest in attending commemorations in New Zealand or in Egypt should contact Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, by freephone on 0800 483 8372 or email email@example.com.
For further information please contact Katherine O’Donnell, Media Advisor – Defence Communications Group on 021 664 293