John Hair and Frederick Maurer each thought the other was dead. They were wounded within days of each other during the battle of El Alamein in 1942, and both believed the other had died, until they were reunited at the Australian War Memorial more than seven decades later.
“I haven’t seen him in 75 years,” Maurer said. “He got hurt about six days in front of me … He hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still the same.”
The pair had each assumed the other was among the thousands who were killed during the fighting at the tiny Egyptian railway stop between July and November 1942.
“I thought he’d died there,” Hair said. “I knew who he was straight away. He looks just the same, just a little bit older and a little bit wiser.
“We [first] met up at the camp up at Darley [in Victoria……]… and he was in the same contingent as I was, and we went over to the Middle East on the Queen Mary in 1941. I got shrapnel in the leg and he got shot through the eye.”