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Battle for Crete remembered

18 May 2011

New Zealand Defence Force personnel will support a wreath laying ceremony on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Crete. The ceremony will be attended by the Governor-General of New Zealand, His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand; Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins; Ambassador Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Mr Dimitrios Anninos;
the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Rear Admiral Jack Steer; General Manager NZ/Secretary War Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, Brigadier Rick Ottaway; veterans of the Battle for Crete and invited guests. The service will be conducted by Principal Defence Chaplain Don Parker.

After the wreath laying ceremony Battle for Crete veterans will be honoured at a reception at Parliament hosted by Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins.

What: Wreath laying ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Crete

Where: National War Memorial, Buckle Street, Wellington

When: 11.30am, Friday 20 May.

Media please note: there will be time from 11.00-11.30am to interview some of the Crete veterans attending.


For further information please contact Ally Clelland, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 130

Battle for Crete background

The Battle for Crete in May 1941 was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over 12 days a mixed force of New Zealand, British, Australian and Greek troops and Cretan civilians desperately tried to fight off a huge German airborne assault. Despite suffering appalling casualties, the parachutists and glider-borne troops who led the invasion managed to secure a foothold on the island and eventually gained the upper hand. The battle ended with the bulk of the Allied forces being evacuated to Egypt.

The cost of the Battle for Crete was high for both sides. Total casualties among Commonwealth forces were 15,743, of whom 1751 were killed or died of wounds. Of the 7,700 New Zealand involved in the battle 671 killed and 967 wounded, while another 2,180 were taken as prisoners of war. The Royal Navy endured huge losses, including the lives of more than 2,000 sailors, three cruisers and six destroyers.

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