PREVELLY: The Australian village and chapel built by an Aussie soldier in honour of Greeks for saving his life during World War II

PREVELLY: The Australian village and chapel built by an Aussie soldier in honour of Greeks for saving his life during World War II 1

The August night in 1941 when Mr. Geoff Edwards was evacuated from Crete on the HMS “Thrasher”, he vowed that he would never forget the Cretan people and Monks of the Holy Monastery of Preveli for saving his and other Allied troops lives during the “Battle of Crete” during World War II.

In 1978, Mr. Edwards commenced the construction of the St. John The Theologian chapel in Prevelly (his rendering of the Monastery’s name) Western Australia, the village he founded, and he gave it to Greek people as a token of gratitude to the Head Monk of the Preveli Monastery, his fellow monks, and many villagers from surrounding districts who did so much for Allied Servicemen in the grim days of 1941.

 

PREVELLY: The Australian village and chapel built by an Aussie soldier in honour of Greeks for saving his life during World War II 4Numerous 6th Australian Division Unit Associations, ex-servicemen and members of the West Australian Greek Community donated sufficient funds to furnish the Chapel. Where applicable Unit Colour Patches have been affixed to the donated fixtures and fittings. The opening ceremony took place in 1979.

In 1984, Mr. Edwards set about establishing a fund to help Cretans in the province of Rethymnon. A large amount of money was raised by donations from United Kingdom and Australian Ex-Service Associations and individuals and grants by the New Zealand and Australian Governments (on behalf of ex-servicemen). Funds were invested and the annual Scholarship named after the 1941 Head Monk of the Preveli Monastery to this day is granted each year in rotation to a university student from the prefectures of Hania, Rethymnon and Iraklion.

PREVELLY: The Australian village and chapel built by an Aussie soldier in honour of Greeks for saving his life during World War II 5

PREVELLY: The Australian village and chapel built by an Aussie soldier in honour of Greeks for saving his life during World War II 6
The church of St John the Theologian on the hill above Prevelly.

In 1989, Mr. Edwards published his book ” The Road to Preveli” (second edition in 1992) and part of the proceeds of the sale of the book goes towards the care and maintenance of the Chapel of St. John The Theologian at Preveli, Western Australia and the Preveli Monastery in Crete, Greece.

In 1991, Mr. Edwards donated a Memorial Water Fountain which was built in the grounds of the Preveli Monastery on Crete. The Memorial Water Fountain was officially blessed by Bishop Eirineos, assisted by Abbot Kalinikos Spitadakis and other monks on the 24th May, 1991. The cost of the Memorial Water Fountain was also met with funds from the sale of his book and it is a permanent memorial to the courage and bravery of the head Monk of the Monastery of Preveli in 1941, Agathangelos Lagouvardos, his fellow monks and the Cretan people who saved the lives of many Allied troops.

Finally in the year 2000, his last vision will be fulfilled: the erection of a Shrine of Peace and Remembrance. His last wish was that this shrine should be called ‘Shrine of PEACE & Remembrance’ by including all those from both sides who participated. It will be located near the Holy Monastery of Preveli, overlooking the Libyan Sea and close to Limni, where the allies assembled on the night HMS THRASHER took them to safety. The Shrine is to honour and remember the Cretan civilian men and women, the Greek militia and the servicemen of Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand who gave their lives in the Battle of Crete, 1941.

Mr. Edwards was awarded an order of Australia Medal (OAM), on 7th April, 2000, for services to the Greek Community and shortly afterwards, peacefully passed away on 11th April, 2000. There is no doubt that one soldier of the 2/11th Battalion Australian Army remembered and more than repaid his debt of gratitude to the many Cretans who befriended him.

 

Source: https://www.explorecrete.com/

GCT Team

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

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