north african campaign

Events In History


The North African Campaign

  • The North African Campaign

    The second battle of El Alamein, which began 70 years ago this month, was the turning point of the war in North Africa. For New Zealand forces, this was longest and most important land campaign of WWII. But victory came at a heavy price: between 1941 and 1943, 14,000 Kiwis were killed, wounded or became prisoners of war.

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  • Page 2 – Background

    Fighting in North Africa stemmed from the area’s strategic importance to the Commonwealth. Italy’s decision in June 1940 to enter the war on Germany’s side seriously

  • Page 3 – Operation Crusader

    As British forces crushed the Italians in Abyssinia, elements of the Deutsches Afrika Korps (German Africa Corps) began arriving in Libya and the 2nd New Zealand Division

  • Page 4 – El Alamein

    The New Zealand Division fell back to the Alamein Line, where it took part in the first Battle of El Alamein. They suffered heavy casualties at Ruweisat Ridge and El Mreir

  • Page 5 – Tunisia and victory

    The New Zealand Division enters Tunisia fighting fierce battles at Tebaga Gap and Takrouna. In May 1943 Axis forces in North Africa surrender and the New Zealanders begin a

  • Page 6 – The North African Campaign timeline

    Timeline showing key events of the Second World War, particularly New Zealand's involvement in North Africa.

  • Page 7 – Kiwi stories

    Selected audio extracts of New Zealanders involved in the North African campaign.

  • Page 8 – Further information

    This web feature was written by Megan Hutching and Ian McGibbon and produced by the team.

War oral history programme


  • Freyberg, Bernard Cyril

    A First World War hero and commander of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Bernard Freyberg proved to be a charismatic and popular military leader who would later serve a term as Governor-General

  • Upham, Charles Hazlitt

    Charles Upham is probably New Zealand's most famous soldier. His actions in Crete in 1941 and Egypt in 1942 led to his becoming one of only three people – and the only combat soldier – ever to win the Victoria Cross twice.

  • Kippenberger, Howard Karl

    Leader of the 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade in the North African desert campaigns of 1942 and 1943, Kippenberger was New Zealand’s most popular military commander, and perhaps its most talented.