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El Alamein Re-visited October, 1992

Half a century after putting up my hands to a German tank, I stood on Ruin Ridge again.

Nothing appeared to have changed.

The white stony ground - the sand patches - the stunted camel thorn bushes - were the same.

The distant lapis and jade Mediterranean was the same -  as was the cloudless azure sky.

I could see the same telephone running along the railway line shimmering in the haze.

But looking around the prominent landmarks now were the German and Italian War Memorials and back in the direction of Alex, there was a whole new town of Alamein, with huge beach hotel complexes, restaurants, petrol stations and a Military Museum.

50 years had changed us both.

Memories came easily, but there were few emotions.

I wondered what Colonel McCarter would have been thinking and feeling if he had been standing there instead of me.

Or if it had been that young German officer in his cloth cap waving his machine gun at us from his tank.

Take away the memories, the monuments and the sea - I could have been in the bush around Broken Hill.

Just as empty, just as remote, just as silent.

There was a small rusty tin lying in the sand. Jerry? Eyeti? Gyppo? Aussie?
Who would know or care?

I gave it a kick and turned back to my hired Japanese 4WD.

El Alamein had moved on and so had I.

There was nothing either it or I could do about it!

There was nothing you or anybody else could do about it!

It was time to move on again.


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