15 October 2012
Veteran Mr Maurice Abrahams with RNZAF Medic CPL Russell Cowling wave goodbye before boarding the flight for El Alamein.
Twenty-two New Zealand veterans of the North African campaign departed for Egypt today, where they will attend commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein.
The veterans, aged between 88 and 96 will attend a New Zealand National Ceremony to mark the anniversary on 19 October 2012, followed by an International Commemoration Service on 20 October. Both ceremonies will take place at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in El Alamein.
The veterans were farewelled at RNZAF Base Whenuapai by Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Hon Nathan Guy, and Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway.
Rick Ottaway said he was proud that a delegation of 22 veterans would attend the commemorations in El Alamein.
"This is a great opportunity for these brave men to return to Egypt and pay their respects to colleagues who did not return to New Zealand with them.
"It will be a very emotional time, as many have family members, colleagues or friends who rest in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in El Alamein.
"They will also have the opportunity to see some of the places they once fought, which I’m sure will bring back many memories they have of their time in North Africa," Mr Ottaway said.
The veterans will return to New Zealand on 25 October 2012.
The RNZAF B757 carrying the New Zealand delegation to El Alamein will also transport 18 Australian veterans attending the commemorations from Dubai to El Alamein and return.
For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, on 021 487 980.