THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
STEVE GEORGANAS MP
Member for Hindmarsh
13 May 2011
Six Second World War veterans will return to Greece and Crete next week to participate in commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of their desperate and ill-fated battle to save the country from invasion.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, will lead the four day mission of Navy and Army veterans who are aged between 88 and 101. The group will attend a number of events including a commemorative ceremony at the Hellenic-Australian Memorial, at Rethymno, on Crete.
Mr Snowdon said the Battles of Greece and Crete were fought by Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek troops from October 1940 to May1941.
“The Battles of Greece and Crete resulted in strong bonds between Australia and the people of Greece, and that friendship has not wavered in the 70 years since. It endures in the hearts of the thousands of Greeks who made their homes in Australia post-war.
“It’s fitting that our veterans make this journey on such a significant anniversary. It will be an honour to visit Greece with some of the men who fought to defend it,” he said.
Mr Snowdon said the Allies had been poorly equipped to withstand the German onslaught in Greece in 1941, lacking aircraft and armour and being outnumbered on the ground and in the air.
“In spite of this, the Allies slowed down the German advance, offering brave and locally successful resistance.
When the force finally evacuated the mainland, 320 Australians had been killed, with 494 wounded and more than 2,000 taken prisoner.
“Withdrawing to the Island of Crete, the Allied troops attempted to fight off an airborne invasion. A further 274 Australians were killed and over 3,000 taken prisoner in defending Crete.
“But Australia’s losses paled in comparison with those suffered by the Greeks, with an estimated 500,000 Greek and Cretan lives lost during the war.”
“While the outcome of the campaign wasn’t in the Allies’ favour, it was a significant battle that showcased the best of Australia’s Defence Forces.
“The tenacity and courage of the Greek and Cretan people was seen first hand by our troops, many fighting side by side.
“I hope this mission will help raise community awareness of the service and sacrifice of Australians and their Greek counterparts in this campaign,” Mr Snowdon said.
The six veterans making this trip are [see full biographies attached]:
- Mr Arthur Leslie Leggett, from Perth, WA
- Mr George William (Bill) Henry Taylor MID, from Bremer Bay, WA
- Mr Daniel (Dan) Mark Bowden MID, from Bateau Bay, Central Coast, NSW
- Mr Alfred (Alf) Clive Carpenter ED, from Newcastle, NSW
- Mr Basil George Hayler, from Ferntree Gully, VIC
- Mr Norman (Norm) William Maddock OAM, from Melbourne, VIC
Member for Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas, will be also be taking part in the trip as chair of the Greek Australian Parliamentary Friendship Group.
“I feel privileged to be a part of what will be an emotional and significant journey for these special Australians, I look forward to sharing in this experience with them,” he said.
The two-week mission will leave for Greece from Sydney on Sunday 15 May and will also visit Australian Defence Force personnel at Al Minhad Airbase, in the United Arab Emirates, in the Middle East.
The veterans will be supported by a small administrative and medical team including a doctor and a nurse.
For images of the veterans and historical images of the Battles are available from the DVA Media Centre (www.dva.gov.au/media).
Media interested in speaking with veterans or covering the mission should contact Virginia Dove, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, on 02 6289 6203 or 0411 255 229
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Mr Georganas: Hannah Frank 0419 849 048
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203