A public lecture by Craig Collie for the Military History Society of New South Wales.
'We used our knees and our rifle butts and our blades. For a while we stopped being ordinary blokes and became blood-lusted creatures.'
March, 1941: 40,000 Australian and New Zealand troops are rushed to Greece in a desperate attempt to stop the Wehrmacht overrunning the country. Most of them overseas for the first time in their lives, they seek excitement and adventure. What they get are experiences they could never have imagined.
The operation is doomed to fail, but not before the Aussies and Kiwis succeed in holding up the German advance and evacuating thousands, mainly to Crete, where Hitler next sets his sights. As the Nazis assault the island, they deploy a devastating new weapon of invasion – paratroopers − for the very first time, meeting desperate resistance as the Allies fight for their lives.
This talk will delve into the experiences of the soldiers who fought in the mountains and villages of Greece, and faced entrapment and death on Crete. We all know of Gallipoli and the Fall of Singapore, but Greece and Crete are also major events in our countries' shared history, and as with those two great military disasters, British leadership has much to answer for.
Craig Collie is one of Australia's leading writers of military history and author of the critically acclaimed The Path of Infinite Sorrow, Nagasaki, The Reporter and the Warlords, Code Breakers, On Our Doorstep and most recently the much praised Where the Flaming Hell Are We? The story of young Australians and New Zealanders fighting the Nazis in Greece and Crete. He formerly worked as a TV producer-director and was Head of Television Production at SBS.