21 Oct 2012

International service held at El Alamein

5:06 pm on 21 October 2012

Allied and Axis countries from World War II joined at El Alamein in Egypt on Saturday for an international service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein.

More than 1000 people attended the service at the El Alamein War Graves Cemetery.

Most nations involved in North Africa during the war were represented, including Germany and Italy, Australia and New Zealand.

National services were earlier held separately at the respective war memorials.

The New Zealand delegation, which included 21 veterans of the North African campaign, was lead by Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman and the Chief of Army, Major-General Timothy Keating.

New Zealand veterans began their return journey on Sunday.

British Ambassador to Egypt James Watt said the passing of 70 years was a chance to reflect more deeply on what happened.

The battle of El Alamein began on 23 October 1942 and ended 12 days later.

It was the culmination of two years of fighting in north Africa between German and Italian troops led by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and Commonwealth and Allied forces commanded by Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, who was promoted to Field Marshal in 1944.