A symposium in honour of the 70th anniversary of the Greek and Crete campaigns in WWII will be held in Sydney next Thursday. Convened by author Dr Maria Hill, five speakers will join Dr Hill at the State Parliament of NSW Theatrette for a day-long program of presentations exploring aspects of Australia’s wartime relationship with Greece and its repercussions.

Speakers include Dr Ian Frazer – author of On the run – Anzac Escape and Evasion in Enemy-occupied Crete – who will be reporting on his latest exclusive research into the story of the hundreds of Anzac troops who evaded capture in Crete after the surrender in June 1941.

Archaeologist Dr Michael Bendon will give a presentation on his identification of two landing craft wrecks at Phalasarna in western Crete used in the evacuation from the Greek mainland in 1941, and which met their fate during the last days of the Battle of Crete.

Completing the symposium’s Battle of Crete trilogy, Dr Brian Taaffe will talk about his book The Gate Keepers of Galatas – the story of the extraordinary achievements of the New Zealand Divisional Petrol Company’s drivers (of whom his father was a member) who, fighting alongside Cretan locals and Greek soldiers, kept an elite German paratroop regiment from taking the village of Galatas for six days before being overcome.

Author and art historian Susanna De Vries will take the floor during the symposium to reflect on the extraordinary life and work of Joice Nan Kivell (1887-1982), who travelled from Sydney to Greece in 1922 to aid the 1,500,000 refugees fleeing Turkish persecution. Greece became home for Joice and her husband, Gallipoli veteran and writer Sidney Loch.

The symposium’s architect Dr Maria Hill will be exploring the Australian relationship with the Greek people during the Greek campaign in WWII – the subject of her 2010 published book Diggers and Greeks. The symposium’s keynote speech “The Greek Civil War, the United Nations and Australia: an Untold History” will be delivered by Professor Joy Damousi, head of the School of Historical Studies at Melbourne University.

Professor Damousi is an award-winning historian whose parents migrated from Florina in the 1950s. The free symposium sponsored by the NSW Government will take place from 9am to 5.30pm on Thursday December 6 at the State Parliament Theatrette, Macquarie Street, Sydney. Bookings on 0438 007560. email: maria@mariahill.com.au