The Battle for Crete was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over 12 days in May 1941 a mixed force of New Zealanders, British, Australian and Greek troops 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 evacuation of the bulk of the Allied forces to Egypt.
NZHistory, New Zealand’s online history resource has numerous articles, stories and facts on the Battle for Crete, plus compelling audio interviews with New Zealand soldiers who fought during the battle.
Many New Zealanders made it off Crete, but thousands were left behind: more than 2000 were taken prisoner; 671 died. Among those evacuated were Charles Upham and Alfred Hulme, both of whom were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for their actions on Crete. A few New Zealanders took to the hills, sheltered by the Cretans who, to this day, remember New Zealand's role in this key battle in the Second World War.
To find out more about this significant anniversary of the Battle for Crete, visit NZHistory’s many pages on the subject:
Updated on 23rd July 2015