El Alamein: 103-year-old veteran reflects on decisive WW2 battle

Geraint Vincent heard from the veteran on the 80th anniversary of the decisive El-Alamein victory

Today marks the 80-year anniversary of the weekend when the decisive battle of El Alamein against the Nazis took place in North Africa.

It was the first campaign that the British and Commonwealth armies took on the Nazi war machine during the Second World War - and they won.

Winston Churchill described the victory at El Alamein as the end of the beginning of the great task of freeing Europe from Nazi tyranny.

Still wearing his medals in the house where he raised his family is 103-year-old centenarian and veteran of the campaign in North Africa, Raymond Whitwell.

He was one of the men who helped to turn the tide.

"I look back on it with pride," says 103-year-old centenarian and veteran of the campaign in North Africa.

A young Raymond Whitwell

The two battles of El Alamein took place in Egypt in 1942 and while the first battle ended in stalemate, the Brits defeated the Germans in the second. It marked the beginning of the end of the Axis in North Africa.

The second battle began with an enormous artillery barrage, the first stage of an assault meticulously planned by the British commander, Bernard Montgomery.

"We had a very great respect for him because he was doing the right thing and he was in charge and we enjoyed working for him," Mr Whitwell says.

Young Raymond's duty was to drive supplies of fuel back and forth to the front lines through a battlefield littered with mines.

"We had to take supplies of petrol in right up to the front and sometimes we got engaged as well, until we were called on in order to help fight," he says.

The German Army found themselves overpowered and under supplied and as their column surrendered, Mr Whitwell took prisoners.Ray then returned to Moulton in Yorkshire, married his wife Iris and became a greengrocer - all after fighting his way across Europe, from Sicily to Holland.

"I was lucky all the way through," Mr Whitwell says.

"There aren't many of us left now, you know."