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Focuse on North African and Italian Campaigns

War memories project focuses on North African and Italian Campaigns of World War 2

Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Judith Tizard, is urging all New Zealanders with an interest in war history to support a project to chronicle the experiences of World War 2 veterans.

Prime Minister and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Helen Clark promoted the idea for a series of books to record the experiences of war veterans after she visited Turkey in 2000 to attend the 85th anniversary commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign.

The Prime Minister said following that visit that she believed the experiences of World War 2 veterans should be recorded before it was too late, as most veterans were now in their 80s.

In May 2001 A Unique Sort of Battle: New Zealanders Remember Crete was launched by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, followed in September 2002 by Inside Stories: New Zealand Prisoners of War Remember.

Judith Tizard said the Ministry for Culture and Heritage was now seeking to talk to veterans of the North African and Italian Campaigns of World War 2 as part of a continuing project.

“The North African campaign can be seen as the turning point for the Allied forces in World War 2,” said Judith Tizard.

“In October, Helen Clark visited Egypt with a contingent of veterans, defence force personnel and secondary school students to attend the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Second Battle of El Alamein, and saw the harsh desert conditions in which our soldiers lived and fought.

“The experiences of those who were involved were unique due to the desert environment in which the fighting occurred.

“For many the camaraderie of fellow soldiers was crucial to coping with stress of war, and there are many stories still to be heard about this difficult time and the battles that took place.”

Judith Tizard said from North Africa many soldiers then participated in the campaign to free Italy from German hands. The battlegrounds in Italy were a complete contrast to North Africa and soldiers found themselves having to adapt to new conditions and a different type of warfare.

Judith Tizard said official histories of World War 2 tended to focus on the battles themselves.

“The aim of this series of books is to record the personal stories of those who participated in the battles and to recognise the individual spirit which was so important.

“I urge all veterans and the family members or friends of those who were involved in these campaigns - or people who have an interest in preserving the memories of war - to contact the Ministry for Culture and Heritage,” said Judith Tizard.

More information can be found on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website: www.mch.govt.nz

Contact: Veterans and the families of veterans of the North African and Italian campaigns are urged to contact Megan Hutching, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, P. O. Box 5364, Wellington (Phone 04 496-6338; e-mail mailto: mailto:megan.hutching@mch.govt.nz)

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