Spectrum 778. The turning point - part 2

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Tono kōrero mai

Part two of a two-part documentary.

Fifty years on, New Zealand veterans of the Battle of El Alamein return to the line west of Alexandra in Egypt where Rommel's Axis forces were defeated. El Alamein was the turning point of the North African desert war and contributed decisively to an Allied victory in World War II.

In Part 2, broadcaster Jack Perkins and the veterans return to Alexandria and Cairo and reflect on and discuss the changes around them. On a trip to the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx it is noted how satellite cities now cover what was once their training grounds and Maadi Camp. Now the pollution from Cairo has created a haze where clear skies used to prevail. Actuality of veterans haggling with vendors at the Pyramids in Arabic they remember from the war.

A former member of the Māori Battalion "Syd", recalls how his brother fell off one of the pyramids while on leave and died.

At El Alamein, Jack Perkins interviews two Germans after a commemoration service for the German and Italian dead. A former member of the Afrika Corps from eastern Germany says this is the first time he has been able to travel to Alamein. He says they were both common corporals, but served for their country.

New Zealand veterans chat with an Australian veteran and talk about how the landscape has changed in 50 years. A man describes the layout of the trenches and Metiria Ridge. Actuality of hymn singing, the Last Post and the service at the Commonwealth memorial ceremony in the graveyard where 7,500 Allied headstones surround a central Stone of Remembrance and vaulted area of 12,000 plaques.

Interviews with emotional elderly veterans and family as they search for graves of colleagues, friends and family members. A man recalls Harry Reynolds, a part-Māori comrade and Wally Tozer, his driver - both killed by a booby-trap bomb on November 3 at El Alamein.

A man talks at the grave of his younger brother, who was 20 when he was killed, having lied about his age and joining up at 17 , after being given white feathers. He was killed by a German Messerschmidt fighter. He and a friend from Pukekohe were both killed and buried together. He has brought his brother's medal back with him.

Sir Charles Moihi Bennett, who was second-in command of the 28th Māori Battalion, speaks at the grave of Major Hart, the Battalion's commander. He acknowledges "the price of citizenship" paid by the Māori volunteers killed at Alamein.

An unidentified Māori woman who lost her brother, Paul Rogers at Alamein, performs a karanga over the graves for "all our boys from New Zealand". She lost another brother at Cassino and says she will go there in two years time.

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Year 1992

Reference number 10722

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Presenter
Bennett, Charles Moihi Te Arawaka (b.1913, d.1998), Interviewee

Duration 00:31:55

Date 13 Dec 1992

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