plaque is seen here being installed beneath the mountains that dominate
the road at the pass at Themopylae. The famous statue of the Greek
warrior Leonidas is to the south by 300m. The Australian and New Zealand
stood against near this exact position in 1941 the closeness of the main
highway is evident by the proximity of the vehicles.
Thermopylae Pass, Greece was the site in 1991 that the Anzac plaque was
installed on a concrete plinth atop a large loose stone mound 200 meters
north of the famous statue of Leonides defending the Pass against the
Persian invasion of 480 BC. The plaque, installed by the Greek Army and
the sculptor in pouring rain, stands at point near where the Australians
and New Zealanders tried to stem the German invasion of Greece in 1941.
The text in the top right of the plaque refers to the defence of
mainland Greece by the Allies while all the remained of the plaque's
text relates the story of battle of Crete.
The 4 plaques in the Battle of Crete series are similar and were placed
on the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete. The Australian veterans
of the campaign unveiled some of the plaques. The Australian Government
sponsored the veterans and Senator Bolkus and the Chief of the Defence
Force, General Peter Gration, headed the delegation.
Battle on Mainland Greece
From 28 October 1940 Greece victoriously defended its northwest border
against superior Italian forces. However on 6 April 1941 Greece was
attacked by Germany. Well equipped German forces with air supremacy
forced the Greeks in eastern Macedonia to capitulate whilst Greek and
supporting British, Australian and New-Zealand forces conducted
organised withdrawals southwards over 480 kilometres in 22 days.
Desperate rearguard actions between 24 and 30 April enabled the allied
navies to evacuate 50,000 troops, transporting 25,000 to Crete and the
remainder to Egypt.
Greek forces suffered 1,351 dead, the allied forces lost 1,000 dead,
1,200 wounded, 10,000 captured and all their equipment. German
casualties were 1,200 dead and 3,800 wounded. The great loss of men and
equipment seriously reduced the allied ability to defend Crete.