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May 25, 2007

Visiting Galatas on May 21st


This week Crete has been celebrating and commemorating the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Crete. During the Second World War the island was captured by German forces who parachuted in. The island was bitterly defended to no avail by both the local population and Allied troops. At one hill in Maleme, for example, around two thirds of the invading German force were killed before they landed, often by Cretans armed at times with little more than sticks and stones.


On May 21st we got the 15 bus away from Chania towards Galatas and Daratso. On the 21st May 1941, Galatas was one of the major battlefields in the struggle for the island, and it now has a prominent war memorial.


Many of the Allied troops fighting on the island came from the ANZACS divisions. It is quite a sobering thought to think of being transported halfway across the world to die defending an anonymous hill on a strange island you've never visited before.


Galatas is one of the few villages on Crete whose main square isn't named after either Eleftherios Venizelos or one of the dates from the independence struggle during the 1800s. Instead, the war memorial stands on Plateia 21st May 1941.


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