On Saturday 22 May, students and teachers from both Primary and Secondary participated in the 80 year commemoration event for the Battle of Crete at the Cenotaph in Martin Place.
We must honour the Greeks, Australians and New Zealanders who fought and lost their lives on Greek soil. As a community, we do this through the annual commemoration of this Battle. Our students were fortunate to experience a Trisagion service and short speech from His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, where His Eminence talked about the selfless sacrifice of the fallen heroes and how they contributed to modern Greek Australian relations. During the proceedings, officers from the Australian Army delivered speeches and recorded messages by a Greek Army official and a university professor were also played. The event was honoured by many Australian political and military officials, representatives of consular authorities and Greek community associations.
During our last Primary Assembly, we heard from our School Captains about the significance of the Battle of Crete and why all Greek Australians should learn about it. For those unfamiliar with this shared page in the modern histories of Australia and Greece, it is a story of courage and friendship that underpins the great relationship the two countries enjoy to this day.
Crete is the largest island in Greece, strategically located in the middle of the eastern basin of the Mediterranean and at the crossroads of air and sea transport. Naturally, due to its location, it became a focus of interest for the British Allies and Hitler from the beginning of World War II. The Battle of Crete began just after dawn on 20 May 1941, with hundreds of German transport aircraft deploying thousands of elite German paratroopers from the sky in an attempt to seize control of the island.
For 12 dramatic days, Australian, New Zealander, British and Greek troops, assisted by Cretan civilians, tried to repel a relentless airborne assault by the Germans. Finally, after a long struggle, the Battle ended with the domination of the German forces.
The story of the Battle of Crete is not only for the Cretans; it concerns the whole Greek Parish. The bravery with which the allied forces fought and the stubborn resistance of the heroic Cretan people, whose courage, boldness and spirit of self-sacrifice were insurmountable, aroused the admiration of the Greeks and the Allies. Many Australian soldiers were captured and remained on the island for years. Μany were welcomed by the local Cretans, who either fled or remained hidden in the locals’ homes. In Chania and Rethymno, monuments were built dedicated to the Australian prisoners of war.
The next Greek event that our students can look forward to is All Saints Day on Sunday, 27 June 2021.
Academic Leader Mission, Faith and Culture
Images from the day featuring our community are available to view on the Greek City Times here.