El Alamein

With Remembrance just passed, not long prior, on 23rd October was the 80th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. A turning point in WW2 when the British Eighth Army defeated the German Afrika Corps. The Warwickshire Yeomanry participated, an armoured regiment in the 9th Armoured Brigade, 2nd New Zealand Division.

There were commemoration ceremonies in Egypt to mark the occasion and the British Army Band Catterick took part. The Band's Sergeant Major WO 2 Alastair Smith is the son of John Smith well known in Shipston today as a leading member of the Town Band. John's father Bert was in the Warwickshire Yeomanry in the battle in which 19 troopers from the regiment were killed. Quite a few Shipston men served in the Warwickshire Yeomanry during WW2. Those men whose names are known are in addition to Bert, Ben Bland, Harry Parry, Pete Drinkwater, John Vokins and Monty Sumners. The Shipston troopers were not among those killed in action. Sadly, Ben Bland's younger brother Ronald was a casualty of the war killed when the merchant ship he was serving on was torpedoed in 1942. He is named on the Town War memorial.

There is no doubt that the Warwickshire Yeomanry had a strong association with Shipston due to the town's men who served in its ranks. Alastair Smith visited the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's cemetery where the fallen in the El Alamein battle are buried. He found the grave of one of the 19 Warwickshire Yeomanry troopers who fell and placed upon it his medals and those of his grandfather Bert. A fitting touch.

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