The issue of restitution of Australian Diggers who fought in Greece was covered by a report published in The Australian on Thursday titled Anzacs of ‘second Gallipoli’ campaign seek restitution.
Drew Warne-Smith interviewed Oswald Pierce, 91 who had taken part in the campaign to thwart the invasion of Greece by the Nazis.
The Anzacs were first dispatched to northern Greece but met with superior German divisions both in number and equipment. They had to gradually retreat to southern Greece and ended up on the island of Crete.
According to the Australian report although Mr Pierce has been awarded a medal from the Greek government for his role in that campaign, Australia has yet to recognise his service.
The report highlights that this was the result of an order issued by the British Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson.
These soldiers have come to be known as the “forgotten Anzacs” and according to the report there are 18 who are still alive today.
“Mr Pierce has twice written to federal defence ministers asking for this campaign to be recognised. Twice his pleas have been ignored,” the Australian wrote. Greek
Australian historian Dr Maria Hill has now joined their efforts for restitution. Dr Hill has authored the book Diggers and Greeks.
Talking to Neos Kosmos, Dr Hill said, “The Diggers fought and died defending Greece from the Nazis, and they fought alongside Greeks, but because of the failure of some Australian leaders they have been forgotten.”
“Australian historians have neglected the Greek and Crete campaigns and we as Australians and Greeks have ignored the darker side Greek of the story,”she added.
“We are ashamed about the fascist fifth column activity, the behaviour of German collaborators and sympathisers.”
An extensive interview with Dr Maria Hill will be published in the May edition commemorating the Battle of Crete at the end of May. Her book Diggers and Greeks will be launched in Melbourne on May 21 at the Shrine of Remembrance by Lindsay Tanner Federal Minister for Finance.