We've created this poster to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Greece and Crete campaign of 1941. Display our poster to help remember and recognise all those who served.
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German troops invaded Greece on 6 April 1941. Greek and British forces had defeated an Italian invasion in October the previous year, but this attack launched against Greece and Yugoslavia simultaneously by experienced German formations overwhelmed a disorganised, poorly equipped and numerically inferior defence. The Greek campaign ended with Allied troops – British forces, but mainly Australians and New Zealanders – being evacuated by sea. Many were disembarked on Crete, where they defended against a German airborne invasion, engaging in heavy fighting until again forced to withdraw.
In Greece, British and Commonwealth forces comprising mainly the 6th Australian and 2nd New Zealand Divisions, known as the Anzac Corps, faced 10 German infantry, armoured and specialist mountain troop divisions. The campaign was characterised by a series of hard-fought delaying actions as Commonwealth troops, travelling by night and hiding from German aircraft during the hours of daylight, retreated from northern Greece to the area around Athens and the Peloponnesus. Most were evacuated by sea over 5 successive nights from 24 April.
For many of the Anzacs, more fighting awaited. Exhausted by their recent ordeal, and with most of their equipment left behind in Greece, they prepared to defend Crete. The German invasion came on 20 May. German airborne troops parachuted onto landing zones along Crete's northern coast. Most centred on airfields, 3 of which were objectives for the first day of the attack. The invasion almost met with disaster when German paratroopers jumped into heavy fire in some places. Elsewhere they gained a foothold and on the second day, they captured Maleme airfield, where transport aircraft began landing reinforcements, at first under heavy fire. Other aircraft landed on a beach west of Maleme, allowing a build-up of German forces. After a week of fighting, the Anzacs and British began making their way to evacuation beaches in the island's south.
Some 300 Australians and a similar number of New Zealanders died in Greece, and about 300 Australians and almost 700 New Zealanders died on Crete. Over 8000 Anzacs were taken prisoner in both campaigns.
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