The Joint Committee for the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign is calling on Greek Australians and the wider community to show their support for naming a new Metro station at Pitt Street in Sydney after Captain Reginald Saunders.
The proposed name for the new station was suggested by NSW Transport Minister, David Elliott, who personally intervened in a departmental push to use the name ‘Gadigal Railway Station’ instead.
Mr Elliott moved to overturn the proposed name in a bid to honour Captain Saunders, who is the first Indigenous Australian to serve as a commissioned officer in Korea and WWII.
Captain Saunders also has a strong connection to the Greek island of Crete during WWII. He was supported by the Tzangarakis family from the village of Labini in Rethymno prefecture. He evaded capture on Crete for almost one year until he finally escaped to Egypt.
On May 2016, the 42nd Street Memorial plaque was unveiled in Chania, Crete, to commemorate the Battle of 42nd Street, which Captain Reginald Saunders fought in alongside the Maori Battalion.
‘His legacy is multi-layered’:
It’s no surprise then that the Joint Committee is encouraging people to make a submission to the Geographical Names Board (GNB) in support of naming the metro station after the Captain.
The Secretary of the Joint Committee, Nick Andriotakis, tells The Greek Herald that honouring the Indigenous ANZAC hero in this way “will educate current and future generations and promote social cohesion of the modern multicultural Australian society.”
“Captain Reginald Saunders’ legacy is multi-layered,” Mr Andriotakis says.
“It connects to and encompasses a whole cross-section of people that originated from and later settled in Australia. From the First Peoples to Australians of European and Asian heritage.
“Captain Saunders served in Europe, in Greece and Crete, Asia in Korea and through the Pacific region and North Africa. The diaspora in Australia is from a wide geographic spread including origins from these regions. His legacy transcends all cultures.
“The new railway station in the Sydney CBD will be used by millions of people every year from across the world across Australia and across Sydney.
“The Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign encourages all Australians to support the legacy of this amazing, courageous and inspirational Indigenous Australian through the naming of the new Saunders Railway Station.”
Dr Michael Bendon, a well-known Australian archaeologist with a strong connection to Crete, couldn’t agree more with Mr Andriotakis. He thinks the name proposal is “an excellent choice.”
“I strongly support the proposal to name Pitt Street station after Captain Saunders. His story stands out as he was known as a courageous, proud and tolerant man. I think that’s the real measure of a true hero,” Dr Bendon says.
The archaeologist adds that he also hopes the new station includes a plaque to show how Captain Saunders is representative of Indigenous Australians and the second ANZACs, as well as images of the Captain.
“We need signage that has a succinct explanation of what the Captain represents and explains what type of a brave man he was,” Dr Bendon says.
If you would like to show your support for the name proposal, the GNB is currently seeking community feedback until Wednesday, May 11.