Lecture Tells Tale of Australians Who Fought in Greece in WWII

Australian soldiers land on Suda Bay, Crete in May 1941.

The Greek community of Melbourne is presenting a lecture by Professor Peter Monteath on Australians who fought in Greece during World War II, as part of its Greek History and Culture seminars.

The event will take place on Thursday at the Ithacan Philanthropic Society.

When Nazi Germany attacked Greece in April 1941, thousands of Australian troops were sent to mainland Greece and then to Crete to prevent the invasion and occupation.

After the Battle of Crete, hundreds of Australians were stranded on the island and spent weeks, months and even years trying to escape.

Thursday’s lecture is about the interaction of the Australian troops with the people of Crete and the hospitality they showed to the trapped soldiers, despite the great danger involved.

The presentation also looks at the collaborative efforts made to evacuate the Australians and the “special operations” that took place to resist the Nazis.

In the center of the narrative is the Tasmanian Tom Dunbabin, an important and influential figure in the resistance in Crete. He was a lieutenant colonel who served as a SOE Field Commander and organized the local resistance under the Greek codename ‘Yannis’.

Professor Peter Monteath has taught previously at the University of Queensland, Griffith University, Deakin University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Adelaide.

He has also been Adjunct Professor at The University of St. Louis Missouri and the Technical University of Berlin, where he was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow. He is Professor of Modern European history at Flinders University.

His latest book, Escape Artist: The Incredible Second World War of Johnny Peck (NewSouth 2017), is about an Australian who spent time in Greece and Crete in World War II.

The lecture is sponsored by the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council.

The lecture will take place on April 19, 2018 at 5.00 p.m., at the Ithacan Philanthropic Society (Level 2, 329 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne).