28 Oct 2012

Westminster Abbey service commemorates El Alamein

7:19 pm on 28 October 2012

The 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein in World War II has been marked at a remembrance service in London's Westminster Abbey.

The Allied victory in the North African battle, which cost more than 4000 Allied servicemen their lives, is seen as a turning point in the war.

The BBC reports that among the 500 people at the evensong service including over 40 British and Australian veterans of the battle.

Viscount Montgomery, the son of Field-Marshal Bernard Montgomery - who famously commanded Allied forces at El Alamein - gave a reading.

Two wreaths were also laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior during the service.

The first was placed by General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, on behalf of The Duchess of Cornwall whose father Major Bruce Shand served with the 12th Lancers at El Alamein.

He said: "The Battle of El Alamein was a turning point in the Allied fortunes in the Second World War, a victory that Churchill referred to as "a bright gleam that caught the helmets of the soldiers, and cheered all our hearts."

A second wreath, on behalf of the Armed Forces, was laid by the Chief of the General Staff Gen Sir Peter Wall.

Just over a week ago, veterans from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other allies gathered on the edge of the former battlefield in northern Egypt to mark the victory.