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Battle of El Alamein commemorated at Westminster Abbey: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 6. November 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Major Peter Watson MC of the Black Watch pays tribute to the Grave of the Unknown Warrior

Westminster Abbey played host last week for a memorial service last week marking the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein.

The first major land victory of the Allies in the Second World War, the Battle of El Alamein took place between 23 October and 4 November 1942 in Egypt’s Western Desert. Over 200,000 troops of the British Eighth Army led by Lt. Gen. Bernard Montgomery stopped the German and Italian advance towards Cairo.

The congregation of over 500 included 40 veterans of the battle, the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wald, the Rt Hon Mark Francois MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, and Viscount Montgomery of El Alamein — son of the general.

Dr John Hall, the Dean of Westminster presided at the evensong service with Viscount Montgomery reading the lessons. The Chaplain-General of the Army, the Rev. Jonathan Woodhouse preached to the congregation while General Richards laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of The Duchess of Cornwall, whose father served with the 12th Lancers at El Alamein, followed by a second wreath laid by General Wald on behalf of the Armed Forces.

Chief of the Defence General Staff Sir David Richards told the congregation the Battle of El Alamein was a “turning point” for the Allies in the Second World War – a “victory that Churchill referred to as ‘a bright gleam that caught the helmets of the soldiers, and cheered all our hearts’.”

“Men from all three Services played their part, not least those from my own regiment, the Royal Artillery. I am very proud to be here today, paying tribute to them, and their example of courage and professionalism which today’s Armed Forces constantly strive to live up to.”

Robert Lay, a 91 year-old veteran of the battle who served with the 5th Armoured Tank Regiment said the 70th anniversary was “a timely opportunity for remembrance of all my close friends and associates, particularly my first tank crew – closer than brothers – who I traveled with almost all the way to Tunis. All of them I believe were killed by the time we crossed the Seine in 1944.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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