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The Australians in Greece and Crete : a study of an intimate wartime relationship

Hill, Maria, Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW


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  • Title:
    The Australians in Greece and Crete : a study of an intimate wartime relationship
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Hill, Maria, Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW
  • Subjects: Australian and Greece : Foreign Relations; World War, 1939-1945 : Campaigns : Greece; Australia and Greece : Military Relations; Australian Army : Serving in Greece; Australian politics 1941-1945..
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2008
  • Supervisor: Grey, Jeffrey, Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW; Horner, David, Strategic and Defence Centre, Australian National University.
  • Language: English
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
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  • Description: Historians have largely ignored the importance of relationships in war, particularly at a grass roots level. Examining the past from a relational point of view provides a new perspective on war not accessible through other forms of analysis. A relational approach to a study of the campaigns in Greece and Crete helps to explain, amongst other issues, why so many Australian lives were saved.Australians entered Greece with little background knowledge of the country and the people they were required to defend. There was no serious consultation with the Australian government apart from the cursory briefing of its Prime Minister. Although Britain had numerous intelligence officers operating on the ground in Greece prior and during the campaign, little information about the true political situation in the country had filtered through to the Australian high command. This placed the troops in a very vulnerable position on the Greek frontier and, later, on Crete.Military interaction with the Greeks proved difficult, as key officers from the Greek General Staff and senior government ministers did not intend to fight the Germans. As a result, little coordination took place between the Australian and Greek forces hindering the development of a successful working relationship. Conversely, relations with the Greek people were very amicable with many Greeks risking their lives to help Australian troops.The altruism of the Greeks was one of the most striking features of the Greek and Crete campaigns. Unlike Egypt, where the Australians felt alienated by the values and customs of the Egyptian people, in Greece they warmed to the behaviour of the Greeks. Although they did not speak the same language nor share a similar culture, they had many characteristics in common with the Greeks whose strong sense of loyalty to their allies really impressed the Australians. On their part, the Australians displayed respect for the values and customs of the Greek people.Through their interaction during the war, the Greeks came to regard the Australians, not only as friends, but also as brothers, forging an intimate relationship that has been incorporated in the social memory of both countries.

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