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Hellenic-Australian War Memorial dedicated in Crete.



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DVA 68 Saturday May 19 2001

Hellenic-Australian War Memorial Dedicated in Crete

The new Hellenic-Australian War Memorial on the island of Crete stands as a reminder of the great deeds of Australians during the Battles of Greece and Crete in World War II, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Scott, said today.

Mr Scott and a mission party of 22 Australian veterans and war widows attended the dedication of the new memorial at Rethymno, Crete, where Australian and Greek soldiers and local people fought for a week to resist a massive German invasion in May 1941. 

Mr Scott said, "This memorial honours more than 17,000 Australian men and women who served in Greece and Crete from November 1940 to May 1941, including more than 1000 who were wounded, 5132 taken prisoner and 594 who paid the supreme price for their service.

"The design of the Hellenic-Australian Memorial, inspired by the unity of countries from the northern and southern hemispheres during WWII, represents the enduring friendship between Australia and Greece."

The memorial comprises three pillars of equal size. The central pillar of polished black granite from South Australia represents the Australian forces. The two flanking pillars, clad in a rough surfaced Australian limestone, represent the Greek soldiers and civilians fighting alongside Australia in defence of Crete.

The focal point of the memorial is a circular emblem on the central pillar. The emblem is divided into hemispheres, representing the countries from opposite sides of the world that fought together.  These are decorated with the floral emblems of Australia and Greece, the wattle and the olive.

The surrounding landscaped grounds feature a series of information panels in Greek and English to explain the history of the Greek and Crete campaigns.

"The Battles of Greece and Crete ultimately ended in defeat for the Allied forces and occupation for the Greek people," Mr Scott said.

"However, Greece has never forgotten the valour of those who stood beside its people in their darkest hour.  For their part, Australians remember the compassion and courage of the local people, who even during the occupation risked their own lives to shelter and give aid to escaping Australian soldiers.

"This memorial reaffirms our commitment to always remember those who fought so bravely 60 years ago and to stand together into the future to ensure such dark days never return."

Media contacts:

Cindy West 0413 017 985 Department of Veterans’ Affairs (in Greece) Captain Noel Gilby  0419 897 940 (in Greece) Mark Croxford  0401 145 787 or 02 6277 7820 Minister’s Office 

 

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