Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips


Memories of battle by The National Lottery Community Fund
November 26, 2009, 11:45 am
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At El Alamein Museum we saw a 3 ton truck that was exactly what my father and his fellow soldiers had made their home whilst in the desert. They would dig into the sand and drive their lorry in, covering themselves with a tarpaulin at night so as to be warm and not visible to the enemy. It was said with meaning that really the real enemy at this time was the desert.

The soldiers would not always know where the enemy actually was. Although appearing flat, the desert is not at all, and has many ridges that can hide tanks and soldiers. Also, when Germans captured British vehicles they would sometimes use these in battles so it was not always possible to recognise the real enemy.



Food for thought by The National Lottery Community Fund
November 26, 2009, 11:44 am
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Lunch this day consisted of tahini and cold chips, cheese rolls, cucumber and a tomato with an unusual fruit drink as accompaniment. This was taken in the middle of the desert, perched on an extremely uncomfortable rock in 40 degrees heat. But this couldn’t even begin to compare in discomfort to what my father and his generation must have borne. We didn’t complain. We were beginning at this stage to desire some different kind of fayre for our meals but bore this also with fortitude when my father explained that his daily diet was corned beef and hard taq biscuits that the soliders had to crush with water in order to make them edible. He also said that he only got one pint of water a day, and he recalls that sometimes he had to give some of this to the cook.



Visiting the Cemeteries by The National Lottery Community Fund

The cemeteries play host to the dead from many faiths:- Jews, Muslims, Christians, and are all beautifully maintained. This we found surprising as we had only expected the war graves to be so well tended.

The War grave we visited this morning was the final resting place for not only the fallen of WWII but also, the battles of a bygone age – now seen only in films. Napoleon fought battles along these shores and many dead from this time can be found in the graveyards. Whilst my father inspected the row upon row of pristine and highly respected graves of WWII I found myself very touched by a tomb dedicated to the family of one Daniel Frazer. The epitaph read:-

Maggie Frazer died 1892         34 years

Also lie here her children

Elizabeth         died 1887        11 months

Isabella            died 1891        6 years

Daniel              died 1891        3 years

“Sleep on loved ones and take your rest, I loved you well, but Jesus loved you best.”

Other inscriptions I found touching included, “He does not die who lives on in the hearts of loved ones.”

We both were wondering what these cities/ places must have been like in 1892.



Alexandria by The National Lottery Community Fund
November 26, 2009, 10:51 am
Filed under: Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hotel Cecil in Alexandria, with its 150 year old lift was a hotel highlight. Along with its ancient façade and wonderful historical feeling – it was a lovely hotel with excellent food and nice rooms. Alexandria is a cosmopolitan and fascinating city which I really enjoyed vsiting. So in contrast with Cairo, that is so chaotic busy and smog filled.

My father couldn’t really remember this city very well, but he will now, as I found and bought him the most lovely antique walking stick – for all of £3.50. (Maybe it wasn’t an antique!)

Alexandria retains the vestiges of an elegant age – it shows in its buildings and the care that is taken of them. Apparently they re-paint them every 5 years.