Commemoration for the Battle of Greece and Crete is now upon us. As such Greeks throughout the world will do what they do best. Pay tribute to the fallen and not create myths in the minds of mankind. I ask the question whether is it not time time we put aside the myths surrounding the Battle for Greece and Crete. I state this because as a civilised society we tend to create the illusion that in defeat as in death, we were glorious. There is nothing glorious about death, for the dead no longer walk among the living and as such we should never forget them whilst we live.

We should be careful not to stretch the imagination, romanticise and/or emotionalise the past because it fits nicely with our version of history. We must learn from past paradigms; reviewing, analysing and selecting the positive elements, rather than judging the rights and wrongs.

The truth of the battle Greece and Crete is much darker than we are led to believe. War is one of fear, death, the unknown, reprisals, collaborators, courage, strategies, cowardice, sacrifices, starvation, miscalculations, ephliates, starvation, heroism, bravery, and a host of other factors involved.

As indicated above in every civilised society, we pay tribute in our own way to express our loss for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.

I am not stating that the Battle for Greece and Crete was for nothing, for many on all sides suffered. I am merely pointing out that screening, filtering and glossing over the past is not conducive to the bravery demonstrated in the field of battle or on clandestine operations by civilians and military alike.

Below I have selected a number of points that need clarification for the sake of history and allow the naked truth to be exposed as it should be.

1. Hitler had not considered invading Greece, nor did he encourage Mussolini to invade. In fact it was Mussolini’s pride that created the invasion concept for he wanted to demonstrate to Hitler what he was capable of doing.

2. The British may have lost men, but the brunt of it was taken up by the Australians and New Zealanders who lost approximately: 700 Aussies and 1200 Kiwis during the entire campaign.

3. The Greek campaign was a creation of Winston Churchill who wanted to keep his promise of aid to the people of Greece. General Wavell, Blamey and others were against the idea.

4. The Greeks defeated Mussolini’s forces in Albania which disappointed and alarmed Hitler, forcing him to act against Greece with his Bulgarian allies.

5. The Greeks resisted the Nazis far longer than any other nation when they were invaded and surrendered only when they were unable to fight on more than two fronts. The surrender of the Northern front was a great blow to the morale of the Greeks.

6. The battle for Greece and Crete did not delay the invasion of Russia. This is just a myth perpetrated by some historians. Hitler’s plans were far too advanced and all his military assets were in place. Military post battle studies all point to this conclusion.

7. Hitler never used airborne troops again after the heavy losses during the battle of Crete. The Nazis were not the first to use airborne troops, it was the Russians and the Nazis applied it during the battle for Crete with devastating losses.

8. The Australians of Greek heritage in Australia have hijacked the commemoration of the invasion, renaming it the battle for Crete, when in fact the correct term is: The Battle for Greece and Crete, because of the huge losses sustained by both sides.

9. The Allies commander on Crete knew in advance of Hitler’s plan through the ULTRA, the secret intelligence breakthrough if Nazi communications.

10. The loss of Crete was because of poor communications and strategic military miscalculations. The valour and bravery of the allies and their Greek civilian supporters were never in question. The Nazis paid dearly for Crete and the people of Greece though heroic died needlessly through starvation, reprisals, executions and death on the battle field.

Therefore, when we commemorate battles of the past, we do so to remember the fallen. To never forget the sacrifices and struggles of those who fought helping those left, to create a society free from oppressive regimes.

Life itself is fragile and the journey is always full of challenges. Let us therefore always seek the truth for whatever it is and romanticise it with emotion.