THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
21 May 2011
Australia’s Federation Guard has commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Greece and Crete to remember Australians who fought while defending the island from a WWII German airborne assault in May 1941.
The ceremony was conducted yesterday in the Cretan town of Rethymno at the Hellenic-Australian Memorial and was attended by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, Deputy Chief of the Australian Army Major General Paul Symon, and veterans of the conflict including a delegation from Australia.
Mr Snowdon said that although Australians made an extraordinary sacrifice, it was important to contemplate the sacrifice made by the people of Crete, where almost 500,000 people died in the war.
“We are here to pay homage to the sacrifices that our soldiers made, to thank them as part of our national story and to thank them for their contribution to our nation’s security,” Mr Snowden said.
“We also want to acknowledge our allied brothers for the work they did with us, to secure us, and to work with us. But most importantly we want to thank the people of Crete.”
Representing the Chief of the Defence Force, Major General Symon said that it was especially significant for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Australia’s Federation Guard.
“What we’ve commemorated here today was a really remarkable battle,” Major General Symon said.
“Being amongst the people of this town in Crete with the veterans is very uplifting – to be amongst the veterans is a great honour. To have the Federation Guard here, some magnificent soldiers, sailors and airmen representing our nation and performing the way they did, it makes you very proud as an Australian.”
Contingent Commander of Australia’s Federation Guard Lieutenant Luke Haitas said that it was a privilege to have been part of the ceremony, especially as he is of Greek heritage.
“We are extremely proud to have had this opportunity to represent Australia and honour our veterans,” Lieutenant Haitas said. “The role that Australia’s Federation Guard plays in these commemorations is vital in maintaining our military traditions.”
Australia’s Federation Guard is an ADF unit, comprising of members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force, that provides ceremonial support for the Australian Commonwealth.
Vision of the event has been fed to the networks via Parliament House.
Imagery of the event is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=20112654
Members of the contingent in Greece are available for interview, to be arranged by contacting the Contingent Public Affairs Officer Flight Lieutenant Michael McGirr.
Detail of the contingent members is available at:
Minister Snowdon’s office: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Contingent Public Affairs Officer: FLTLT Michael McGirr 0427 428 012
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664