Release Date: April 2009 RRP: $38.00 HARPERCOLLINSPublishers
Fernleaf Cairo: New Zealanders at Maadi Camp
By Alex Hedley with Megan Hutching
Its call sign was Fernleaf Cairo, and between 1939 and 1946, around 76,000 Kiwis of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force passed through Maadi Camp.
Around 14 kilometres south of Cairo, the camp appeared almost overnight, as this country’s permanent overseas base during World War Two.
By 1945 the camp had tar-sealed roads, two cinemas, an open-air amphitheatre, canteens, bars, chapels, sports fields, a meat-pie and ice-cream factory, and — thanks to General Bernard Freyberg — swimming baths.
Egypt was a source of boundless amazement, sly humour and some disgust to the New Zealanders, an experience which left its mark, both on our language — ‘taking a shufti’ — and more tangibly, the Maadi Rowing Cup. With unpublished images and first-hand accounts, Fernleaf Cairo offers a fascinating insight into the unlikely bond young New Zealanders forged with the people and city of Cairo, including their many highly colourful experiences on leave.
Alex Hedley is a writer and editor based in the United Kingdom. Born in the Wairarapa, Alex completed an honours degree in History and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. More recently, he has pursued film-making ventures in the Middle East and North Africa, and continues to be involved with the history of World War Two.
Megan Hutching is a freelance historian, living in Auckland. Her interest in Maadi Camp was stimulated by the stories of World War Two veterans while recording interviews for the HarperCollins Oral History series, which she edited. Having travelled to Cairo, she now understands the vividness of these stories.