Two Weeks in Egypt - October 2012

Day Five: Alexandria

The prime reason for our trip to Egypt was to attend the 70th Commemoration Service for the Battle of El Alamein. The New Zealand ceremony was timed for 4pm to avoid the hottest part of the day. The bus trip out to El Alamein takes about 2 hours, and we all wanted some time in the cemetery beforehand so we left late-morning. That gave us enough time to visit the Chatby Cemetery in Alexandria and to see the large number of Commonwealth graves. Then it was the long trip to El Alamein, the cemetery and ceremony, then back to Alexandria.

The Hotel Cecil and Alexandria

This morning we awoke to a fine day and clear skies - none of the haze and smog of Cairo. The hotel is on the waterfront - The Corniche. The Hotel Cecil is an old institution in Alexandria. It does not have the most modern of facilities (the lift is an ancient model) but it does have character. The British MI5 was reputed to have occupied the suite on the second floor throughout the Second World War. During our stay the American Ambassador occupied that suite, complete with various security people lounging at the small table outside the door. The hotel also boasts the "Monty Bar" named after General Montgomery of Battle of Alamein fame. Whether "Monty" ever drank here is doubtful - after a WWI injury Monty did not drink.

The Hotel Cecil in Alexandria
The Monty Bar
Table and chairs for the security staff outside the Second Floor suite
The ancient elevator....
and how to use it.
Second Floor stop.
View of the park across the road, from the rooftop.
Looking east along the Corniche from the Cecil.
The Corniche, or harbourfront.
Closer view of traffic on the Corniche
Statue of Saed Zaghloul Pasha in the park next to Hotel Cecil....
Zaghloul was a lawyer, politician and Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924.
Bronze plaque on the statue, complete with grafitti.
Local taxi waiting outside our hotel.....
and one trotting along the street.
Horses are still a main source of transport here.
But so are trams,
and the popular yellow and black taxicabs.
The traffic is slow and messy
with long lines of cars and buses.
You need new sunglasses - genuine Raybans, Bill Bass, Gucci.........
Older apartment buildings facing the harbour.
And new blocks further along the Corniche.
OK, so Ian Fleming was here for a while, but is this taking it a bit far?
Lookout towers on the new bridge.
Another view with the late afternoon sun.
Buildings along the Corniche
Panorama of Alexandria Harbour taken from the Corniche adjacent to the Cecil Hotel.

Chatby Cemetery, Alexandria

Chatby Cemetery is in central Alexandria and is now surrounded by apartments, a mosque and a large Coptic Church. It has both military and civilian burials starting from the late 19th century. It contains the graves of 155 New Zealanders from the First World War and 47 from the Second.

The entrance to Chatby Cemetery
The plaque dedicating the land
View from the entrance towards the Cross of Sacrifice
The large magnolia tree in the cemetery
Close-up of the flowers
View across the headstones
Apartment buildings now crowd out the cemetery
The shade is always welcome
Headstones in seried rows
Prive Orr, 22 Battalion
One of the older graves - Sir Ralph Abercrombie who fell in the battle of Alexandria in 1801
Looking through the gates.

The 70th Commemoration of the Battle of El Alamein - the NZ Ceremony

I attended the commemoration service in a private capacity, along with 15 other New Zealanders. I was able to honour the efforts of the 22nd Battalion and other New Zealanders. I photographed the graves of the men 22nd men buried there, and those commemorated on the wall of the memorial. The NZ ceremony was a small intimate one held late on the Friday. The large international service was on the Saturday. My impressions of the services are recorded here on a separate page.

Go to the page for the New Zealand Commemoraton Service

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Last updated: 02/07/2017