A number of solemn memorial services and wreath laying ceremonies were held over the weekend in Australia and Greece to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.
This is what went down across the two countries:
The Greek Community of Tasmania held an early morning wreath laying ceremony at the Hobart Cenotaph to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.
Greek youth dressed in traditional Greek costumes stood proudly at the cenotaph, as a minute’s silence was held and the Ode to the Fallen was read out. The Archepiscopal Vicar of Canberra and Tasmania, Very Reverend Prochoros Anastasiadis, representing His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, and Father Vasilios Verdes from Holy Trinity Church in Hobart, also said a small prayer.
This was followed by a number of prominent members from the Greek community, as well as state government and military representatives, laying wreaths.
This included, but is not limited to, the President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and NZ, Tony Tsourdalakis, the President of the Cretan Association of Tasmania, John Fiotakis, the Governor of Tasmania, Kate Warner AC, Elise Archer MP, representing Tasmanian Premier, Peter Gutwein, David O’Byrne MP, representing the Tasmanian Labor Party, and Cassy O’Connor MP, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens.
A formal reception at the Hellenic House in North Hobart followed the wreath laying service. At the reception, the Hellenic Dancers of Hobart performed a number of Cretan dances, while Mr Tsourdalakis recited a Cretan poem.
Various other speakers also discussed the importance of ensuring Greek people continue to remember and teach future generations the importance of the Battle of Crete.
New South Wales:
In Sydney, the Battle of Crete anniversary was commemorated over two days, with a wreath laying ceremony at Martin Place on Saturday and a memorial service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of The Annunciation of Our Lady in Redfern on Sunday.
The wreath laying was attended by Battle of Crete war veterans, descendants, Members of Parliament and Greek community leaders as they remembered the Greek, Australian, British and New Zealand troops who desperately tried to defend Greece against a huge German airborne assault on May 20, 1941.
The next day a memorial service at the Greek Orthodox church in Redfern was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.
In attendance at the service were a number of prominent members of the Greek community and politicians including, but not limited to, the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Christos Karras, Peter Poulos MLC, the President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and NZ, Tony Tsourdalakis, the Chairman of the Joint Committee for the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign, James Jordan, the Secretary of the Joint Committee, Nick Andriotakis, the President of the Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW, Terry Saviolakis, and the President of the Greek Returned Servicemen League of NSW, Peter Tsigounis.
After the service, a documentary screening was held at St Andrew’s Theological College. The documentary, ‘A Lot of Time for the Greek,’ was made for the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the anniversary.
Australia’s Ambassador in Greece, Arthur Spyrou, attended a number of events over the weekend in Greece to commemorate 80 years since the Battle of Crete.
His first stop was to Chania on the Greek island of Crete, where he and his sons paid tribute to the fallen ANZACs at the 42nd Street Memorial. They also listened to the stories of the elders in Rethymno about the battle.
From there, Ambassador Spyrou went to the Stavromenos Memorial on the island and visited the adjacent street named after Sir Ian Campbell, the commander of the Australian and Greek forces in Rethymno. He laid a wreath to pay tribute to their service and sacrifice.
Next up was the Hellenic-Australian Memorial in Rethymno where Ambassador Spyrou laid a wreath and presented student awards and a donation to the local Metropolis, on behalf of RSL National as a token of Australia’s eternal gratitude to the brave Cretan people for their generosity, camaraderie and self-sacrifice aiding the ANZACs.
Ambassador Spyrou’s last stop was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Souda Bay Cemetery.