El Alamein

Solly Nkhi MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Arts and Culture

This week, seventy years ago, South African troops fought bravely alongside their allies in what would become known as the Second Battle of El Alamein. Together with the earlier “First” battle in July, this marked a decisive turning point in the Second World War.

The famed and feared German Afrika Korps and their Italian allies would never again be able to threaten the Suez Canal, nor threaten to cross over into the Middle East, to join up with the German army in Russia, or even with the Japanese further in Asia.

South Africa’s contribution was, in overall numerical terms, modest, but significant. South African forces held and captured important positions, and its armoured car formations were respected for their skill and daring.

This is a proud part of our national heritage; it is sad that with the low-key exceptions of the Departments of Defence and Military Veterans, it has been largely ignored. Padre Errol Sadler of the Memorable Order of Tim Hats (MOTHs) puts things in clear historical perspective when he asks: “What if the Axis forces had taken Cairo, and then headed south, country by country, until they reached Cape Agulhas? What if the flag flying overhead today was that of the Third Reich?”

The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng pays tribute to all those South Africans, from whatever background, who answered the call to duty in this conflict. We honour those who have passed on, and thank those who remain. We are the richer for their contribution.

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