Australia’s first Battle of Crete memorial unveiled in WA

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After several years of planning, negotiating and fundraising, Australia’s first fully dedicated Battle of Crete memorial has been unveiled at Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia.

The unveiling was organised by the Battle of Crete Memorial Committee of WA and took place on Saturday, May 11, followed by a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of the Battle of Crete.

In attendance were the WA Premier Roger Cook; the Ambassador of Greece to Australia, Stavros Venizelos; co-patron of the memorial, Archbishop Makarios of Australia; and one of the last surviving veterans of the Battle of Crete, Arthur Leggett OAM.

battle of crete memorial in wa
Co-patron of the memorial, Archbishop Makarios of Australia was present at the event. Photo: Facebook.
battle of crete memorial in wa
One of the last surviving veterans of the Battle of Crete, Arthur Leggett OAM, was present (front). Photo: Facebook.

The memorial seeks to acknowledge the courage, sacrifice and commitment of those Australians and Greeks who served and endured the Battle of Crete.

The 1941 campaign saw German forces raid the island of Crete in the first major airborne assault in history, ending in defeat for ANZAC, Greek and British forces stationed there.

During the two-week campaign, 594 Australians died, 1,001 were wounded and over 5,132 were captured. Many Australians did manage to escape, with the help of Greek civilians, at great personal risk to themselves.

The Battle of Crete is of distinct significance to WA. The Western Australia 2/11 Battalion AIF, and the partially Western Australian 2/3 field artillery regiments were involved in the battle, along with the HMAS Perth.

The memorial itself was created by Smith Sculptors, a team of sculptors from Gidgegannup that specialise is creating memorials. The design is based on a ‘broken column,’ a metaphor for a life cut short. Around the column are four images in relief:

  • An Australian Soldier of the 2nd/11th (City of Perth) Battalion facing North, direction that the invaders of Crete had come from;
  • To his left and facing West, is a Greek Soldier of 1941;
  • Facing South is a Royal Australian Navy Rating; and
  • Facing East is a Cretan peasant woman, to recognise the heavy involvement of local civilians in the battle.
battle of crete memorial in wa
Parts of the memorial.

In a statement after the official unveiling on Saturday, the WA Premier said the memorial “commemorates the courage, sacrifice and commitment of military personnel, as well as the people of Crete who risked, or gave their lives, to help our troops.”

“Western Australians and visitors now have a dedicated location where they can pay their respects and acknowledge the sacrifices made during, and in the aftermath of, the Battle of Crete,” Premier Cook said.

battle of crete memorial in wa
WA Premier Roger Cook gave a speech at the unveiling ceremony. Photo: Facebook.

The memorial was made possible through the hard work of the Battle of Crete Memorial Committee of WA, as well as with the support of federal and state funding (including a Lotterywest award) and individual donations.

The WA Government contributed $550,000 to the project with $250,000 supplied via the Anzac Day Trust grant program, in addition to a $300,000 grant through Lottery West.

In an interview with The Greek Herald in May 2023, Chairperson of the Battle of Crete Memorial Committee of WA, Bill Evangel said the memorial “is something West Australians can be proud of.”

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