The Greek and ANZAC fighting spirit

The Greek and ANZAC fighting spirit 1

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Honouring our shared values and democracy 

Sydney’s Greek and Australian community will have the opportunity to celebrate together their mutual achievements in World War II during a commemorative event at the Anzac Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney.

Organised by the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney all Australians are invited to a public flag raising and star ceremony to commemorate 76th Anniversary of the day Greece said a resounding ‘OXI’ (‘NO’) to the Axis Powers on the 28th October 1940, and to also honour the gallantry and sacrifice of more than 17,000 Anzacs who served with distinction in the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign.

“This event and many like it, reaffirm the values that both Greeks and Australians share and have defended and cherished through acts of sacrifice and valour in both World Wars.  It is our duty to honour the sacrifice of those Greek and Anzac soldiers who sacrificed their lives so that we may today enjoy the fruits and freedoms of Democracy,’’ said the Consul-General, Dr Stavros Kyrimis.

Attending the event will be members of Federal and State Parliaments, Representatives from the Australian Defence Forces, NSW RSL representatives and veterans including one of the last surviving ANZACs, Mr Alf Carpenter.

The ceremony will include medal presentations and the presentation of special marble plaques “ANZACS OF GREECE” to RSL branch representatives on the day. The inscription of the plaque is taken from an ancient Athenian marble inscription which praises the valour of those that died fighting for Democracy. A copy of the original plaque is exhibited in the Canberra War Memorial.

A special mention will also be made to Captain Una Keast of the Australian Army Nursing Service who recently passed away at the age of 101.

invitation

Date:                        Friday, October 28th, 2016
Venue:                     Anzac Memorial Hyde Park South (Northern Steps), Sydney
Time:                        Ceremony commences at 4:00pm sharp.
Official proceedings commence at 4:10pm and will conclude at 5:00 pm

 Some noteworthy historical notes → 

On 6th April 1941 the Battle in Greece was one of the first engagements of the Australian Army against the Nazis in World War II.

Many of the Anzacs of Greece and Crete (e.g.  Anzac Constantine Aroney) had also fought in the first Anzac Campaign in Gallipoli a few decades’ years earlier and are rare “Dual Anzacs”.

Some of the Anzacs of Greece and Crete (e.g. Anzac James Zampelis)   came from Greek Australian migrant families and this War memorial will give a sense of belonging to a minority ethnic group and give them ownership of the Anzac legacy.

The Greek and Crete Campaign included Australia’s highest ranked Indigenous Australian soldier Captain Reginald Saunders who was supported and saved by the Cretan people for nearly a year until escape. Their human bonds are an important Australian story and will empower indigenous Australians and contribute to reconciliation.

anzacssittingIt is estimated that the descendants (up to three generations) of ANZACs who fought in Crete and Greece together with Australians of Greek heritage are in the order of over 1,500,000 people.

Of the 1,686  Anzacs ( Australian and  New  Zealand ) 646 Australians are buried or memorialised  in Greece in  Phaleron,  Athens , Rhodes and  Suda  Bay  Crete . Over 50 percent of deceased Australians have never been found or are unidentified and are memorialised at the Athens Memorial.

8900 Anzac prisoners of war were captured in the Battle of Crete and Greece, representing 83% of the Australian soldiers captured by the Nazis in World War II.

The Anzacs had come from one of the newest democracies to fight in Greece, the birthplace of Democracy for freedom and liberty.

Some 11 percent of the Greek general population and 80 percent of the Jewish population perished as a result of the Nazi invasion.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.