Veterans Return to El Alamein

October 2011

Supported by National Lottery Funding

In October 2011 a small number of veterans from the 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats) returned with the aid of UK National Lottery Funding to the scene of their triumph in 1942. With them went the Association's Chairman Mr. Rod Scott and his wife Tina, the Association Treasurer, plus family and carers. The veterans were Len Burritt Royal Corps of Signals (Divisional HQ), Neville Brown King's Royal Rifle Corps and Peter Roach 1st Royal Tank Regiment. Their guide was Steve Hamilton, who organises regular trips for the North African battlefields. The pictures below are from this trip.

To read the text associated with each picture please hold your mouse over it and click on it for a larger version

 

As the original Desert Rats did over 70 years ago, the Memorial Associations Chairman Rod Scott takes in the sights of ancient Egypt - The Pryamids.

As the original Desert Rats did over 70 years ago, the Memorial Associations Chairman Rod Scott takes in the sights of ancient Egypt, which this time is the Sphynx.

As the original Desert Rats did over 70 years ago, the Memorial Associations Chairman Rod Scott takes in the sights of ancient Egypt - The Pryamids.

As the original Desert Rats did over 70 years ago, the Memorial Associations Chairman Rod Scott takes in the sights of ancient Egypt, which this time is the Sphynx.

The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Many a Desert Rat would have visited them while on leave.

Another part of the Pyramid complex.

Part of the Pyramid complex.

The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Many a Desert Rat would have visited them while on leave.

Another part of the Pyramid complex.

Part of the Pyramid complex.

Close up of one of the small Sphinx figures

A more modern castle near Cairo

The three veterans: Left to right Len Burritt, Peter Roach and Neville Brown

Close up of one of the small Sphinx figures

A more modern castle near Cairo

The three veterans: Left to right Len Burritt, Peter Roach and Neville Brown

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cairo War Cemetery approximately 5 Kms from the centre of Cairo. 

Part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery

The Cross of Sacrifice

The War Stone

How down to the main reason for the visit. Remembering and honouring fallen comrades.

The visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at El Alamein.

Approaching the Cemetery

Closer to the Cemetery Entrance

The Entrance

Approaching the Cemetery

Closer to the Cemetery Entrance

The Entrance

The view from the top of the Enrtrance gateway.

Wreaths adorn the War Stone in the Cemetery

Among the wreaths, one from the Memorial Associations Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, whose father Major Bruce Shand served with the 12th Royal Lancers (which had been part of 7th Armoured Divsion and 4th Light Armoured Brigade in the middle part of 1942), and who was wounded and taken Prisoner in November 1942. This was laid on her behalf by the veterans.

The view from the top of the Enrtrance gateway.

Wreaths adorn the War Stone in the Cemetery

Among the wreaths, one from the Memorial Associations Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, whose father Major Bruce Shand served with the 12th Royal Lancers (which had been part of 7th Armoured Divsion and 4th Light Armoured Brigade in the middle part of 1942), and who was wounded and taken Prisoner in November 1942. This was laid on her behalf by the veterans.

A more personal pilgrimage from one Desert Rat. Mr Len Len Burritt, who was with the Division when it was first formed and served in Divisional HQ, visits the Grave of one of his Commanding Officers, Lieutenant General Gott, who was killed by enemy fire while rescuing survivors from the plane crash he was in after it have been shot down, by enemy aircraft. Please click here for more about Gen Gott. This part of the veterans visit was shown on the National Lottery show in 2011.

Lt Gen Gott's grave

Len Burritt lays his wreath on his Commanding Officers grave.

A moment to honour a fallen comrade!

The grave with Len Burritt's weath.

Close up of the veterans: The party: Neville Brown KRRC, Len Burritt Div HQ, Peter Roach 1st RTR and helper.

Memorial Plaque to the men of the 8th Army.

The party: Neville Brown KRRC, Len Burritt Div HQ, Peter Roach 1st RTR, Rod Scott and Tina Scott.

Close up of the veterans: The party: Neville Brown KRRC, Len Burritt Div HQ, Peter Roach 1st RTR and helper.

Memorial Plaque to the men of the 8th Army.

The party: Neville Brown KRRC, Len Burritt Div HQ, Peter Roach 1st RTR, Rod Scott and Tina Scott.

Now a tour of the old battlefield, including the small station that gave its name to the battles that was fought here in 1942.

Monument denoting the position of the forward Axis Minefield

Monument denoting the position of the forward British Minefield

A second picture of the monument denoting the position of the forward British Minefield

Monument denoting the position of the forward Axis Minefield

Monument denoting the position of the forward BritishMinefield

A second picture of the monument denoting the position of the forward British Minefield

Part of the old battlefield where 7th Armoured Division fought in Oct 1942.

Even today the mines laid 70 years ago still pose a deadly problem to anyone venturing into the old battlefield!

The small station that gave its name to the largest battle of North African Campaign.

Part of the old battlefield where 7th Armoured Division fought in Oct 1942.

Even today the mines laid 70 years ago still pose a deadly problem to anyone venturing into the old battlefield!

The small station that gave its name to the largest battle of North African Campaign.

The platform of El Alamein station.

On the platform of El Alamein station.

The front of El Alamein station.

The platform of El Alamein station.

On the platform of El Alamein station.

The front of El Alamein station.

The Deutsches Afrika Korp (DAK) Memorial at El Alamein

Inside the Deutsches Afrika Korp (DAK) Memorial at El Alamein

Inside the Italiam Memorial

The Deutsches Afrika Korp (DAK) Memorial at El Alamein

In side the Deutsches Afrika Korp (DAK) Memorial at El Alamein

Inside the Italiam Memorial

The marker, reads: 'Lacking Fortune, Not Valour'. It denotes the limit of the Axis advance towardas Alexandria in July 1942 and carried the badge of the Italian Folgore Parachute Division who fought like lions at Alamein, many to the death, rather than surrender.

The Italian Memorial at El Alamein.

Inside the Italian Memorial. On the wall are plaques of the names of the Italian Dead and Missing. 

The marker, reads: 'Lacking Fortune, Not Valour'. It denotes the limit of the Axis advance towardas Alexandria in July 1942 and carried the badge of the Italian Folgore Parachute Division who fought like lions at Alamein, many to the death, rather than surrender.

The Italian Memorial at El Alamein.

Inside the Italian Memorial. On the wall are plaques of the names of the Italian Dead and Missing. Inside is this elegant white marble Italian Memorial is this statue. A villa on top of a hill overlooking both the sea and the memorial. Sobhi explains, "This villa belonged to Paolo Caccia Dominioni, a reserve colonel in the Italian army and the son of an Italian diplomat who served in Alexandria. After the [battle], he hid in that very spot for three days before he left for Italy. When he got there, he sold everything he owned and used all his wealth to come back to the desert and collect the remains of the Italian and German soldiers. He then designed and built this memorial and villa, and kept visiting this site until his death in 1992."

Inside is this elegant white marble Italian Memorial is this statue. A villa on top of a hill overlooking both the sea and the memorial. Sobhi explains, "This villa belonged to Paolo Caccia Dominioni, a reserve colonel in the Italian army and the son of an Italian diplomat who served in Alexandria. After the [battle], he hid in that very spot for three days before he left for Italy. When he got there, he sold everything he owned and used all his wealth to come back to the desert and collect the remains of the Italian and German soldiers. He then designed and built this memorial and villa, and kept visiting this site until his death in 1992."
For anyone wishing to visit the battlefields of the Western Desert, please see Steve Hamiltion's Western Desert Battlefield Tours website.

On Steve's site there is an article about this visit by the veterans

 

Links to useful websites

El Alamein Landmarks The Area of Alamein Western Desert Battlefield Tours
Commonwealth War Graves Commission CWGC El Alamein Cemetery CWGC Cairo War Cemetery  

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