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Commemorating Battle for Crete

A wreath laying ceremony to mark the 71st anniversary of the Battle for Crete will take place at Wellington’s National War Memorial on Sunday.

The ceremony will be conducted by Principal Defence Chaplin Lance Lukin and will be attended by the Honourable Chris Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Dimitrios Anninos, the Chief of Army, Major General Tim Keating, General Manager Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, Brigadier (rtd) Rick Ottaway, veterans of the Battle for Crete and invited guests.

The Hellenic Armed Forces will be represented by Rear Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, Chief of Staff, Hellenic National Defense General Staff.

Battle for Crete background

The Battle for Crete in May 1941 was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over 12 days a mixed force of New Zealand, British, Australian and Greek troops and Cretan civilians desperately tried to fight off a huge German airborne assault. Despite suffering appalling casualties, the parachutists and glider-borne troops who led the invasion managed to secure a foothold on the island and eventually gained the upper hand. The battle ended with the bulk of the Allied forces being evacuated to Egypt.

The cost of the Battle for Crete was high for both sides. Total casualties among Commonwealth forces were 15,743, of whom 1751 were killed or died of wounds. Of the 7,700 New Zealand involved in the battle 671 killed and 967 wounded, while another 2,180 were taken as prisoners of war. The Royal Navy endured huge losses, including the lives of more than 2,000 sailors, three cruisers and six destroyers.

Updated on 23rd July 2015