Tributes are paid to those who fought in the battle that marked the turning point of world war two and which gave the British the upper hand for the first time.
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There are few survivors left from Britain's world war two breakthrough north African victory, which claimed thousands of lives and left many injured. But a handful of veterans are gathering in London's Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle which was described by Winston Churchill as the end of the beginning of the war.
The Battle of El Alamein was the climax of months of struggle in the western desert as the allies fought to keep open vital supply lines from the Mediterranean to the east.
It was one continuous cacophony of noise when those 1,000 guns opened up. We were just so grateful we weren't on the receiving end. Ron McBride, veteran
Under the command of General Montgomery (or "Monty"), nearly 200,000 allied troops defeated the axis powers, together with air support from the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm, and with Royal Navy warships blocking enemy supply lines in the Mediterranean.
Between 23 October and 4 November 1942, the allies managed to stop the axis alliance progress through Africa, but the battle came at a price: more than 4,000 servicemen were listed as killed or missing, and nearly 9,000 wounded.
"It was one continuous cacophony of noise when those 1,000 guns opened up. We were just so grateful we weren't on the receiving end," says 92-year-old British veteran Ron McBride.
After almost three years of war, the allies were reeling from a string of defeats across the globe and the morale of the British eighth army in Egypt was at rock bottom.
"The food was deplorable," adds Mr McBride. "It was all bully beef, biscuits and water that was so contaminated that if you tried to make tea, the condensed milk just went into a lump."
On the eve of the 14-day battle, the British and their Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Greek and Free French allies had been pushed back to within 150 miles of Cairo.
But on 23 October, General Montgomery ordered a counter-attack with almost 900 guns levelled at the German positions to be discharged at once.
"It was enormously important in terms of morale as well," said Phil Reed, director of the Churchill War Rooms museum. "It was our first victory for some time, and provided a terrific boost back home."
Mr McBride, along with an expected 40 other British and Australian veterans, will be at Saturday's service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, held by the Ministry of Defence. Reverend Jonathan Woodhouse QHC Chaplain-General will give the address at the evensong service.
"The Battle of El Alamein was hugely significant as it was the first time the British gained the upper hand over the German army. The end of the beginning," said Minister for Defence, Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan.
"We should honour the survivors of the battle and commemorate all those who took part. El Alamein turned the tide in the western desert - and arguably of the war."
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