News from the Green Howards
EL ALAMEIN REGIMENTAL CAP-BADGE RETURNS HOME TO THE MUSEUM
Miss Tracey of London kindly sent us this cap-badge which she found at El Alamein and the story of her discovery. The cap-badge probably belonged to one of our battalions who fought in North Africa during World War II. It is amazing to think that these artefacts continue to surface after nearly 70 years and heart-warming to know that they can find their way back home.
"I used to be a tour manager and Egypt was one of the countries I travelled to most. I also went to El Alamein many times and used to visit all the Mausoleums and the British cemetery. Each time I did I went to each grave in turn and stood for a while out of respect. Each two weeks when I took a tourist group I started off where I left off the previous visit. As you know the British war graves are lovely though very sad as they are lined up so whichever way you look at them they are in straight lines. They are always well kept with flowers and shrubs which make them look like a garden. I always recited the poem to the visitor which ended 'One is nearer God's heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.
I visited the two small monuments for the Greeks and South Africa and the beautiful Italian Mausoleum and the German one too. I got to know the keeper of the German one, which is built more like a fortress, with tombs inside with the names of areas of Germany and some moving German words. It mentions us being enemies in life but friends in death.
I got to know Abdel Rahmen and his family, who was keeper of the German Mausoleum. They were a Bedouin family as were the Keepers of the Italian one. I never met the British one, though the cemetery was beautifully kept, as he did not live as nearby as the other two. Though I did once meet the Man from Alexandria, the British War Graves Commission and he told me all about them.
Abdel Rahmen walked in the Western Desert as only as Bedouin can, where the battles took place, due to the landmines which are still there and no maps were made of where they had been planted by either side. There is a safe way through which only they know. He would visit regularly and often found things from the battles, mostly German items for those Germans who visited the Mausoleum. But knowing I was English and at some time we must have discussed I was from Yorkshire (Huddersfield), he gave me a cap badge from an Australian soldier, a New Zealand one and one from the Green Howards.
When I visited Australia a few years ago I took their badge to the ANZAC museum in Alice Springs and they were thrilled to have it as they had so little memorabilia from El Alamein and they were in the process of doing an exhibition on it. I even got the New Zealand one to a museum in Auckland which is, unusually, their War Memorial. It is a very interesting place with the lovely stained glass window dedication in the chapel on the top floor of the museum. They also have a copy of our Cenotaph, which stands in Whitehall, outside in the lovely green park surrounding the museum, with the undulations that the Maori use for their fighting which gave us the idea of the Trenches of WWI, and they kept cows there to keep the grass short.
I am enclosing this badge for you and so its story and journey home is finally ended. "