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NSW, SA and WA communities mark Battle of Crete with plaque unveiling and wreath laying

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By Andriana Simos and Argyro Vourdoumpa.

Across Australia this year, the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete was commemorated with a number of wreath laying ceremonies, plaque unveilings and memorial services.

This is how Sydney, Adelaide and Perth marked the important occasion.

Sydney:

Sydney’s Greek community finished off its commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete this month with a special plaque unveiling and wreath laying ceremony hosted by the Mayor of Waverley City Council, Paula Masselos.

Despite the rainy weather and cold conditions, the special commemorative event at Waverely Park in Bondi Junction was attended by about 100 people.

This included the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Christos Karras, the Archepiscopal Vicar of Canberra and Tasmania, Very Reverend Prochoros Anastasiadis, Federal, State and Local government representatives, prominent members of Greek community organisations, Australian Defence Force representatives, and other distinguished guests.

Official proceedings were started by Master of Ceremonies, Bill Harrigan, asking the Waverley College Army Cadet Unit to take their positions standing proudly next to the Waverely Cenotaph, while a traditional smoke ceremony and welcome to country was conducted.

Addresses were then given by Mayor Masselos, the Consul General, Father Prochoros, who was representing His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, James Jordan, the Chairperson of the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign, Father Bernie Thomas from Mary Immaculate Church, Commodore John Stavridis from the Australian Navy and Roger Selby, President of the NSW Association of Jewish Service & Ex-Service Men and Women.

“[Today] we celebrate the warm friendship between Greece and Australia… we celebrate our common values that bind us together as friends,” Mr Karras said in his speech.

From there, the Ode to the Fallen was recited, the Last Post and Reville was played and a one minute silence was held.

Mayor Masselos and Father Prochoros then approached the cenotaph to proudly unveil a new commemorative plaque, which honours the eight Waverely Anzacs who fought in the Battle of Crete and Greek Campaign and are buried in Greece. Attendees later paid their respects to the fallen by laying wreaths around the plaque.

“Bondi Junction is the centre of the Eastern Suburbs and while Waverely has a significant Greek Australian population, this memorial I hope is something I hope will be embraced by everyone in the Eastern Suburbs,” Mayor Masselos told The Greek Herald after the event.

“It is a testament to the relationship between Greece and Australia, but also forging some very strong bonds between the Greek Australian community and the Australian community.”

Adelaide:

Members of South Australia’s Greek and wider community among them more than twenty distinguished guests and dignitaries as well as representatives of associations and organisations gathered on Sunday, May 30th at the town’s War Memorial in North Terrace, to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete. 

The wreath laying ceremony organised after 17 years of break, by the Consul General of Greece in Adelaide, George Psiachas and with Pantelis Fridakis, President of the Cretan Association of South Australia, in the role of the Master of Ceremonies (MC) was initiated with speeches from the Consul General; Minister for Innovation & Skills, representing the Premier of South Australia David Pisoni; Professor Peter Monteath from Flinders University, President of the Cretan Association of SA and Chairman of Virtual War Memorial, Peter L. Williams.

“Australia and Greece were proven to be in the right side of history together,” Mr Psiachas said during his speech, explaining the important role of the ANZACs in the Battle of Crete and the strong relationships formed between the soldiers and the hospitable Greek people.

“These bonds have been embedded deep in our hearts and they remain alive to this day,” said the Consul General, extending his thanks and appreciation to the Premier, the local RSL and the Virtual War Memorial. 

The speeches were followed by a memorial service officiated by His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope and the laying of wreaths.

A one minute’s silence was held as a tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and the event concluded with the Greek and Australian national anthems. 

Later on, the same afternoon, a light lunch was also offered at the Cretan House in Alberton. 

Perth:

The Consulate of Greece in Perth organised a wreath laying ceremony at Kings Park State War Memorial on Sunday, May 30 to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, while also commemorating the Genocide of the Hellenism of Pontos.

In attendance was the last remaining veteran in Western Australia of the Battle of Crete, Mr Arthur Leggett, who defied the bad weather and the rainfall to be there.

“Thank you to all our Australian and Greek friends for attending this year’s commemoration,” the Consulate wrote on Facebook.

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