18 Oct 2012

Veterans return to El Alamein

6:30 pm on 18 October 2012

A New Zealand veteran of the Battle of El Alamein during World War II says returning to Egypt to mark the battle's 70th anniversary is a chance to honour friends who died.

Twenty-three New Zealand veterans arrive in El Alamein on Thursday to take part in commemorations marking the anniversary.

The oldest veteran on the trip - Harry Spencer, 96, from Hastings - says his lasting memory of the beginning of the battle is the noise of gunfire.

"As they were going over the top it was really deafening. When you have to put up with it for about four hours - personally I felt quite numb. But those things happen."

More than 1100 New Zealanders are buried in the El Alamein Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

A New Zealand service will be held on Friday and an international commemoration on Saturday.

Photos of NZ troops at El Alamein during World War II