View the El Alamein Commemorative Service booklet
21 October 2012
Chief of Army, Major General Tim Keating with Minister of Defence, Dr Jonathan Coleman paying tribute at the 70th commemoration of the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt.
New Zealand veterans of the North African campaign have attended commemorations in Egypt to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein.
The veterans, aged between 88 and 96 attended a New Zealand National Service to mark the anniversary on 19 October 2012, followed by an international Service of Thanksgiving on 20 October.
Both ceremonies took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in El Alamein.
Alan Peart (90) of Hamilton said the New Zealand National Service, which was held near many graves of New Zealanders killed at El Alamein, was very humbling.
"It was very touching, and I could just envisage what happened here," Mr Peart said.
Mr Peart was a Flight Lieutenant, whose role in the North African Campaign was mainly combat with enemy fighters and strafing attacks on enemy assets.
He has family buried in the El Alamein Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, and his father in law also fought at El Alamein.
"I found my cousin, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Jan Peart’s grave. He commanded 18 Battalion, and someone who served with 18 Battalion was paying respects at his grave at the same time."
The international Service of Thanksgiving involved a Catafalque Party drawn from New Zealand and Australian service personnel from the Multinational Force and Observers.
New Zealand veterans John Wills and Eric Wilson also laid a wreath on behalf of all New Zealand veterans.
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.
A ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein will be held at the National War Memorial in Wellington on Tuesday 23 October, beginning at 11.00am.
For further information please contact Katherine O’Donnell, Media Advisor – Defence Communications Group, on +64 21 664 293