20 September 2012
Twenty-four New Zealand veterans of the North Africa Campaign will attend commemorations in Egypt to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein in October.
The veterans are aged between 88 and 96, and will travel to El Alamein as part of the official New Zealand delegation.
They will attend a New Zealand National Ceremony to mark the anniversary on 19 October 2012, and an International Commemoration Service on 20 October. Both ceremonies will take place at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in El Alamein.
During the North African Campaign almost 10,000 New Zealanders were killed or wounded, and more than 4,000 became prisoners of war. 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.
Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway says he is delighted that 24 veterans will travel to Egypt for the commemorations.
"These are brave men who have some incredible stories to tell from their time serving in the North Africa campaign.
"Many of them have vivid memories of their time there, and for most it will be an incredibly emotional experience.
"I’m delighted we can give them the opportunity to return to the country where they served as young men, and pay tribute to their comrades who did not return home with them, "Mr Ottaway said.
To be eligible to be part of the delegation, each veteran was required to have served in the North Africa Campaign, and to have been awarded the Africa Star. All veterans were medically assessed to ensure they are fit to travel and participate in the events in El Alamein.
Almost fifty expressions of interest were received, however thirteen applications were subsequently withdrawn by veterans themselves after reconsidering their ability to make the journey.
The delegation will travel to El Alamein by Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Boeing 757. All international travel, accommodation, on-ground transport, and medical costs for veterans are being funded by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.
Travel to the commemoration remains subject to the acceptable security environment in Egypt. New Zealand Government officials are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis.
For further information please contact Katherine O’Donnell, Media Advisor – Defence Communications Group, on 021 664 293
Attached is a list of some of the veterans attending commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt.
Name Town/City Age
Mr Maurice Abrahams Nelson 93
Mr Verdun Affleck Geraldine 94
Mr Bill Bristow Takanini, Auckland 93
Mr Stewart Frame Wanganui 96
Mr Regi Frew Katikati 91
Mr Arnold (Smiler) Hammond Pukekohe 94
Mr Charles (Charlie) Hessell Timaru 88
Mr Huia Holmes Geraldine 90
Mr Norman (Twig) Leaf St Heliers Bay 92
Mr William (Bill) Leitch Browns Bay 91
Mr Keith Mathews Manukau 94
Mr Andrew (Andy) McGovern Timaru 94
Mr Clive Meddings Cambridge 91
Mr Alan Peart Hamilton 90
Mr Allan Robinson Wilton, Wellington 92
Mr Colin Rutherford Dunedin 93
Mr Harry Spencer Hastings 96
Mr Richard (Dick) Spraggs Hamilton 89
Mr Joseph Topping New Plymouth 92
Mr Tom Wagstaff Takapuna 94
Mr John Wills Orewa 95
Mr Erik Wilson Howick 93