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Alam Halfa and Alamein


page v


THIS volume was intended to be an account of the part played by the New Zealand Division in the two battles from which the title is drawn. Work on it was commenced by Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Scoullar as the sequel to his Battle for Egypt, published in 1955, but his untimely death in 1956 caused the task to be handed on to me. Owing to a disparity of style and approach I took the liberty of completely rewriting his draft which covered the opening of the Alam Halfa battle, but would record my indebtedness for the work he had already done.

I found, on beginning my task, that a picture of the New Zealand share in the battles could only be drawn in its true perspective against a clear background of the events occurring to all the forces concerned, both Allied and Axis. This I have attempted to do, so that, although the Division remains in the foreground, I have mentioned the names of only those New Zealanders whose actions affected operations or illustrate the conditions under which the battle was fought. For a detailed record of the gallant actions of officers and men, I would refer the reader to the numerous unit histories published by the War History Branch.

My acknowledgments are due to Mr W. D. Dawson and Mr R. L. Kay for the research they have undertaken on the New Zealand share in this campaign, and to Brigadier H. B. Latham, Brigadier C. J. C. Molony and Lieutenant-Colonel M. E. S. Laws of the Historical Section of the United Kingdom Cabinet Office whose narratives and willing assistance in supplying material have been invaluable.

I would take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the first Editor-in-Chief of the New Zealand War Histories, the late Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger, whose wisdom, guidance and capacity to inspire loyalty made the project possible, and to his successor, Brigadier M. C. Fairbrother, who did so much to ensure that the planned series of volumes was completed by a staff slowly diminishing under the pull of more lucrative employment. My gratitude goes to all those members of the staff who have helped me, particularly to the present editor, Mr W. A. Glue, for his continuing support and co-operation, and to Miss Elsie Janes for typing my manuscript. I am also grateful to Professor N. C. Phillips, formerly Professor of History and now Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury, for his helpful comments.

page vi

The maps were drawn by the Cartographic Branch of the Lands and Survey Department and the index was prepared by Mrs M. Fogarty of the Historical Publications Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Finally, though the story told is as close to the facts as detailed research can shape it, the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Ronald Walker

wellington August 1966