What’s the probability of finding rifle pits dug by New Zealand soldiers in the mountains of northern Greece 70 years later? And what’s the likelihood of running into Greek elders who saw our soldiers killed while fighting from those pits?
Standing in NZ rifle pits near Mt Olympus, Greece
Yet that’s exactly what happened for Ministry for Culture and Heritage historian Monty Soutar, who visited Olympus Pass in May this year. By sheer chance, in the middle of a seemingly deserted gorge, he happened on the one Greek man who knew the location of the rifle pits. The man couldn’t speak English and Monty couldn’t speak Greek, but an extraordinary meeting unfolded and new discoveries were made.
Monty joined a pilgrimage party of 57 Kiwis who went to Greece to be a part of the commemorative services to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Crete. The party was called the Enduring Legacy, led by Kerry Prendergast, ex-mayor of Wellington, and included five Crete veterans (all in their 90s). After Crete Monty went on to visit battle sites in Greece which are often overshadowed by the epic Battle of Crete. Here he made some of his most amazing finds.
Monty Soutar is available for interview on this subject, please contact him on: 0275100234.
Updated on 23rd July 2015