Crete veterans honoured at ParliamentVeterans' Affairs
Sixteen veterans of the Battle of Crete were today honoured at a reception at Parliament on the 70th anniversary of the famous Second World War battle.
The reception was hosted by Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins who paid tribute to the courage of the servicemen and the people of Crete who helped them.
Veterans and other distinguished guests attended a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial and a ceremony at the Hellenic Memorial before the lunchtime reception in the Grand Hall at Parliament.
More than 7,700 New Zealanders were involved in the Battle of Crete, which saw the Allies defend Crete against thousands of invading German troops.
“These veterans fought in one of the fiercest battles of the Second World War. Intense fighting saw many acts of bravery and gallantry being performed by our men, many of whom were officially recognised for their courage,” Ms Collins said.
“The heroism shown by our men was not without cost. More than 670 men were killed during the battle, and nearly 1,000 were injured.
“During the evacuation, more than 2,100 New Zealanders were captured. Some of those prisoners of war managed to escape from their captors and evade re-capture due to the assistance of local villagers.”
Ms Collins expressed gratitude to members of the New Zealand-based Greek and Cretan communities who were present at today’s commemorations and noted that “as a nation, New Zealand is indebted to the people of Crete who risked their lives to provide food and aid to Kiwis who escaped”.
Arrangements were made for veterans throughout the country to attend today’s commemorations in Wellington.
Ms Collins thanked the veterans for their service, and reminded them that “the heroism and the sacrifice displayed by the New Zealanders who fought at Crete has ensured that their deeds have retained a special place in our history that will never be forgotten”.