Filed under: Africa | Tags: Cemetery, El Alamein, Heroes Return, museum, North Africa, POW, veterans
I was the only one to oversleep this morning. My 91 year old father, despite being one of the last to go to bed due to putting the world to rights in the bar the previous night, was up and breakfasted with everyone else and was wondering where I was. I blame my phone as the hour had gone back, realigned itself with Greenwich meantime which meant that so did my phone and Egypt was now GMT + 2.
This was the day we visited the cemetery at El Alamein. A deeply powerful moment for my father as this is where he did serve in those terrible days. The poignant moments for all our group were different but no-one could not be affected by seeing several touching headstones – this is because these young men died together, and their remains cannot be separated, therefore they rest, as they died – together.
The El Alamein museum is nicely appointed. Not entirely 100% accurate according to our guide Steve Hamilton who really does know everything there is to know about this period of history. The museum also holds examples of all the different kinds of desert uniform; the Italians still managed to be the most stylish – even in war.
We were told horrifying stories of POW ships and ships carrying the injured were sunk by friendly fire off the coast of North Africa. El Alamein train station itself is a wreck. What a pity as it could so easily be turned into a memorial. We then visited the actual sites of the battles themselves. There are still thousands of uncleared mines – so it is a bit risky wandering off the beaten track. There are still active mine sweeping divisions operating on a daily basis.
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