Battle Of Crete Commemorated With Memorial Unveiling

  • The WA Government has contributed $550,000 towards a memorial for the Battle of Crete, unveiled at Kings Park
  • First specifically dedicated memorial in the nation to the 1941 conflict
  • Two-month campaign resulted in 594 Australian dead, 1,001 wounded and over 5,132 captured
  • 105-year-old Western Australian Arthur Leggett, the oldest surviving veteran of the Battle of Crete, present for the dedication ceremony

A new war memorial in Kings Park, dedicated to the remembrance of the Battle of Crete, has been unveiled by the Premier, Ambassador for the Hellenic Republic of Greece to Australia and Battle of Crete Memorial Committee of WA.

The 1941 campaign saw German forces raid the Isle of Crete in the first major airborne assault in history, ending in defeat for ANZAC, Greek and British forces stationed there.

During the two-week campaign, 594 Australians died, 1,001 were wounded and over 5,132 were captured. Many Australians did manage to escape, with the help of Greek civilians, at great personal risk to themselves.

The Battle of Crete is of distinct significance to Western Australia. The Western Australia 2/11 Battalion AIF, and the partially Western Australian 2/3 field artillery regiments were involved in the battle, along with the HMAS Perth.

Western Australian Arthur Leggett, one of two remaining survivors of the Battle of Crete, was present at the dedication ceremony. The 105-year-old veteran was taken captive by German Paratroopers and spent more than four years in a prisoner of war camp.

The memorial itself was created by Smith Sculptors, a team of sculptors from Gidgegannup that specialise is creating memorials, including the iconic HMAS Sydney II memorial in Geraldton.

The memorial is located in the Saw Avenue precinct of Kings Park, near to the Tobruk memorial.

The Cook Government contributed $550,000 to the project with $250,000 supplied via the Anzac Day Trust grant program in addition to a $300,000 grant through Lottery West.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“This monument commemorates the courage, sacrifice and commitment of military personnel as well as the people of Crete who risked, or gave their lives, to help our troops.

“Western Australians and visitors now have a dedicated location where they can pay their respects and acknowledge the sacrifices made during, and in the aftermath of, the Battle of Crete.

“My Government is proud of its significant contribution to help establish the memorial.”

As stated by Veterans Issues Minister Paul Papalia:

“It is of critical importance that we commemorate the service of those Western Australians who have fought and died for our nation overseas.

“The Battle of Crete Memorial is an important step in recognising an often overlooked but very important chapter of our military history, and one that Western Australians played a critical role in.

“Many of the friendships and connections forged during the Battle for Crete, and the entirety of the Greek campaign, were important in facilitating Greek migration to Australia at the end of the Second World War.

“And just like Western Australians who risked their lives defending Crete, so did many Cretans who transported Western Australians off the island after the allied surrender.”

/Public Release. View in full here.