19 Oct 2012

Maori veteran remembers El Alamein

8:16 pm on 19 October 2012

A Maori Battalion veteran says the 70th anniversary of El Alamein brings back mixed emotions of the drama of the battlefield tinged with memories of the death of his comrades who fell in north Africa.

New Zealand veterans arrived in El Alamein this week to take part in commemorations to mark the anniversary.

Robert Gillies of Ngati Kahungunu and Te Arawa says although he didn't fight in that campaign he did spend some time there before he was sent to Italy in 1942.

He says he vividly remembers the treacherous conditions they were under even before the real battle took place.

Mr Gillies says his regiment was in El Alamein on training exercises in the dessert before they were shipped north to Italy.

He says during his time in North Africa before the battle of El Alamein they lost 7 men who were hit by artillery barrage.

Robert Gillies is representing the 28th Maori Battalion at the anniversary.