These photographs were taken by New Zealand World War II cameraman Mervyn Daniel Elias toward the end of fighting against the invading armies of fascist Germany and Italy, on the side of the Free France Forces in a predominantly Sunni Muslim country. The tirailleurs sénégalais are also mainly Sunni Muslim. As well as in North Africa, the Senegalese fought for France and for freedom in Europe. During the Battle of France, the Senegalese and other African tirailleur units served with distinction at Gien, Bourges and Buzancais. The Senegalese saw extensive service in Italy and Corsica during 1944, as well as in the liberation of southern France. The world has been turned on its head since then.
Elias also took this photograph of New Zealand war correspondent Graham Evenson Beamish (1906-1975) typing his story from the Libyan desert in early December 1941.
Drawing of Merv Elias by fellow New Zealander,
Dunedin-born war artist Peter McIntyre (1910-1995).
McIntyre served as a gunner in Egypt before being commissioned
Official War Artist, and in this capacity he served
in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy.My post yesterday on "legendary" Californian war correspondent (thanks Richard P, Bill M and Joe V for the positive comments) grew out of a plea for help last week for information about a New Zealand war photographer and movie cameraman called Mervyn Daniel Elias.
Merv EliasI posted first on Treanor because, having stumbled across him during my research into Elias, I was astounded by how little was known about this great American journalist. There's acres out there about the like of Ernie Pyle (justifiably), yet not much about so many other "soldiers of the press". It seems Treanor was "legendary" at the time he died, aged 35 in August 1944, but the legend obviously didn't last very long. By one of those weird coincidences which, happily, seem to happen to me regularly, I was equally surprised to find after posting on Treanor yesterday that a book, , by Washington DC author and former TIME-LIFE Middle East and Europe reporter Gary G. Yerkey, was published just a month ago. Great minds, as they say ...
Anyway, what led me to Treanor in the first place - on the 97th anniversary of, November 11 - was the online scan of his own wonderful book.
Treanor's introduction to One Damn Thing starts with the American correspondent paying a glowing tribute to Merv Elias. What does appear elsewhere online about Treanor in some cases refers to the assistance he received in Egypt from New Zealanders, but none of it specifically identifies Elias. Treanor himself made no secret of his indebtedness to Elias. What made his story all the more appealing to me was Treanor's regaling of Elias' experiences in the bar of in Cairo. Since this is a bar in which I too have had a beer or two (indeed, at Christmas 1978 I drank the place dry of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout - all I had to show for it was a sore head and this label off one of the bottles), it naturally struck a chord with me:
These are the excerpts from Treanor's book: