Living in Crete :: 2009 Battle of Crete Commemorations
Lest we Forget :: the role of the ANZAC's alongside the Brits and other Allies
Lest We Forget .... On May 20 1941, the sky over Crete filled with German paratroopers. Thousands of troops from various parachute and mountain divisions were dropped in the air raid. Although most of the allied anti-craft were destroyed the ANZAC’s were undeterred. The ANZAC’s delayed their fire and began shooting at paratroopers as they descended. Many Cretans using older, self - loading guns, attacked the enemy. With limited ammunition and manpower , Cretan villagers and ANZAC troops fought together gallantly , eventually containing the German paratroopers to three main areas of the island.
After seven days of continuous fighting and heavy losses , the Germans deployed more air power and managed to override the island, capturing strategic military positions near Chania, and Rethymno in the west and Heraklio on the eastern flank of the island. The ANZAC troops and Cretans continued fighting even though defeat was inevitable.
Lest We Forget .... By June the 1st 1941, the Battle of Crete was over. However, the eventual occupation of Crete came at a heavy price for both sides. During the ten days of fighting, 945 ANZAC troops were killed and 4794 captured. During the evacuation the Cretan people risked their own lives providing food and shelter for many ANZAC troops who remained on the island, hiding them from Nazi forces. These ANZAC’s continued on fighting with the Cretan Partisans. Germany lost many of its finest troops and precious time to prepare for Russia . Due to this loss the Battle of Crete made a significant contribution to Hitler’s Defeat in Russia.
The courage and friendship between the ANZAC troops and Cretan people must always be remembered. The Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand every year calls on all Australians and New Zealanders to participate in the annual Commemorations. Battle Of Crete in May 2009 marks the 68th Anniversary.