Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia – Been There, Freed That

Since January 2011 we have seen autocratic leaders deposed in Tunisia and Egypt. Currently facing threat are the leaders of Syria and Libya.

While hope is taken from witnessing movements driven by ‘the people’ in gaining self-determination, as a New Zealander I follow the news with a heavy heart.

New Zealand sacrifice and involvement has contributed to ‘liberating’ these counties once before; during the Second World War.

Bellow is a brief timeline of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force involvement with combined allied forces in North Africa during WWII.

Following is an  introduction to a some of the books written by New Zealanders involved, I hope that on Anzac Day 2011 it will contribute to the picture that continues to unfold for the descendants of these once ‘freed’ countries. All power to them in achieving something that really should have happened years ago.

2 NZEF timeline during the Campaign for North Africa in World War II 

The North African Campaign resulted in a total of 2989 New Zealanders dead, 7000 wounded and 4041 Prisoners of War.

Passage to Tobruk by F. Jackson | Pic Ink Eats Man Tripoli and Beyond by F. Martyn | Pic Ink Eats Man


23 February 1942, 2 NZEF moves from Egypt to assist in the protection of Syria and Lebanon from threat of German invasion via Turkey.

The German advance on Tobruk and imminent threat of a breakthrough to the Suez Canal prompts the recall of 2 NZEF, they drive 1500 km in under a week to stand at Egypt’s Western Desert.


31 August 1942 (approx finish), The First Battle of El Alamein, New Zealand casualties are 922 killed, 2080 wounded, 1819 POW.

21 November 1942 (approx finish), The Second Battle of El Alamein, New Zealand casualties are 380 killed, 1290 wounded and 41 POW.


4 February 1943, victory parade to celebrate the liberation of Libya. New Zealand casualties are 74 killed, 239 wounded and 8 POW.

2 NZEF has advanced an astounding 2000 km since the stand at El Alamein.


13 May 1943, the Italian and German commanders surrender to 2NZEF, ending the Battle for Tunisia, between 1 May and 13 May the NZ Division suffers a staggering 385 killed, 1284 wounded and 31 POW.

Fights & Furloughs by A. S. Helm | Pic Ink Eats Man Turning Point by M. Reid | Pic Ink Eats Man

The Books

Anzacs into Battle
by Tahu Hole
London, Hodder and Stoughton Limited 1942 (Jan.)

The Turning Point: With the New Zealand Engineers at El Alamein
by Murray Reid
Auckland, Collins Bros. and Co. Ltd
nd circa 1944

Tripoli and Beyond
by Furneaux Martyn
Auckland, Collins
nd circa 1944

Passage To Tobruk: the diary of a Kiwi in the Middle East
by Francis Jackson
Wellington, A. H. and A.W. Reed

Fights and Furloughs in the Middle East: A Story of Soldiering and Travel in Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Crete, Trans Jordan, Syria, Irak and Iran.
by A. SA. Helm
Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs Limited
nd circa 1946

Anzacs into Battle by T. Hole | Pic Ink Eats Man


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