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North Africa Veterans To Attend El Alamein Anniversary

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Almost fifty expressions of interest were received, however thirteen applications were subsequently withdrawn by veterans themselves after reconsidering their ability to make the journey.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.

ENDS

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


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