Earlier this month, Melbourne commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, with a number of events.
The Battle of Crete was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over 12 days in May 194, a mixed force of New Zealanders, British, Australian and Greek troops 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 evacuation to Egypt of the bulk of the Allied force.
On Saturday April 17, the commemorative dinner dance was hosted by the Pancretan Association of Melbourne and the Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne under the auspices of the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand, at the Cretan Village in Wantirna South.
To say that the night featured plenty of dancing and music, is an understatement.
Over 550 people attended the dance including a number of dignitaries: the Very Reverend Father Evmenios, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the District of Northcote, the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand, Tony Tsourdalakis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Oakleigh and Districts, Chris Damatopoulos, the President of the Pancretan Association of Melbourne, Emmanuel Starakis and President of the Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne, Michael Houdalakis, among others.
Sifi Tsourdalakis, Paddy Montogomery, George Lerakis and Tony Iliou entertained guests all night.
And of course we must mention ‘Δημοτική ορχήστρα- Δυο πατρίδες’. This band consists of 3rd generation Greek/Cretan children who gave the crowd a stellar performance. It is truely remarkable to see the talent and passion in these children.
The following day, doxology was held at the Greek Orthodox Holy Archdiocese Cathedral of St Eustathios in South Melbourne, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia.
This was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance.
Wreaths were laid by Archbishop Makarios, the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, and a number of military, church, local and political officials.
A brief ceremony was also held at the Australian Hellenic Memorial, which is dedicated to the Battle of Crete.
The day’s official proceedings concluded with a luncheon at the Cretan House in Brunswick.
The Battle of Greece and Crete Commemorative Council also honoured Peter Ford, son of an Anzac Cretan veteran, and Shirley Devery, daughter of an Anzac Cretan veteran, for their parents’ service during the Battle of Crete.
We will not let this pandemic derail our thoughts about what the Cretan people endured in 1941 during the Battle of Crete.