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28 May 2020

Commemoration ceremony for the Battle of Crete

 

In this period of Coronavirus, when lockdown across countries in the Diocese has been comprehensive, The Revd Canon Leonard Doolan, Senior Chaplain at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Athens has kindly provided us with material for this story on a key annual commemoration:

Every year around 20 May there is a commemoration ceremony for the Battle of Crete at Souda Bay in Crete, where there is a Commonwealth War Grave. Either Fr. Leonard or Fr. Bruce Bryant-Scott, Chaplain at St. Thomas Anglican Church, Kefalas, conducts this annual ceremony.

The Battle of Crete was fought intensively in May 1941, when Hitler turned his attention to the invasion of Greece, and Nazi forces launched an airborne invasion of the island of Crete.  In the ensuing battle, Crete’s residents joined 40,000 British, Greek, Australian and New Zealand troops in defending the island in eight days of intensive fighting.

“The Battle of Crete was significant in that it slowed down the Nazi advance into the Levant that would give access to Iraqi oil reserves. This allowed time for the Allied Forces to regroup in this area,” says Fr. Leonard.

In the midst of lockdown constraints for Coronavirus, there could be no large-scale ceremony on the island of Crete this year.  However, the Defence Attaché at the British Embassy, Athens arranged a smaller ceremony, within local restrictions, at the large War Grave Cemetery at Alimos in Athens.

The British Ambassador, H.E. Kate Smith, attended the ceremony, along with the Australian Ambassador and New Zealand Consul. A Vice-Admiral represented the Greek State and Armed Forces. Defence Attachés from the British Embassy and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany were also present.

 

 

You can watch this video of the ceremony shared with us by Fr. Leonard and friends at St. Paul's.

Find out more about the chaplaincies of St. Paul's, Athens, and St. Thomas Anglican Church, Kefalas via their websites:

http://anglicanchurchathens.gr/

https://theanglicanchurchincrete.co.uk/