All quiet on the North African front...

All quiet...until tomorrow, when I visit the former North African front of World War II, the village of El Alamein on Egypt's Mediterranean coast,130km west of Alexandria.

Here was fought what Winston Churchill described as one of the defining battles of that war, on 22 – 26 October 1942.

It is estimated 80,000 soldiers have died in the area from 1940 to 1942, with the 1000km-long battlefield of the Western Desert stretching from Alexandria into Libya, control of the Suez Canal the plum reward. Just out of interest for Aussie readers, there are 22,000 graves in the cemeteries at Turkey's war site, Gallipoli, also on Mediterranean shores, of which 9,000 are of identified burials with grave marker.

Each year, there is a commemoration service held at the El Alamein site run by one of the three countries who have substantial war cemeteries there: Britain (with 7,240 Commonwealth headstones), Germany and Italy. This year, it's Britain's turn, and Prince Andrew is expected to turn up.

If you're interested in following it further, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a very good online search engine, its Debt of Honour register, where you can search by surname, nationality, year of death.

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