Battle of Crete Memorial Lecture: Maleme – Fulcrum of War
Location: Greek Centre, Mezzanine, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Date: THURSDAY 3/8/2017 @ 7:00pm
Presenter: Dr. Peter Ewer
It is a matter of historical record that the Nazi invasion of Crete succeeded because of their victory at the airfield at Maleme west of Chania, in fierce fighting between 20 and 22 May 1941. But why were the Nazi paratroopers victorious at Maleme, when in very similar circumstances, Australian, British and Greek troops successfully held the equally important aerodromes at Rethmyno and Heraklion?
Dr Ewer analyses the battle in detail, beginning with the plans of defending General, the New Zealander Bernard Freyburg, He had come out of retirement in 1939 to take command of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), and faced on Crete complex tactical problems which few had seen before. Freyburg feared most of all an invasion from the sea, and in attempting to meet that threat, he left the vital ground at Maleme too weakly defended, with disastrous results.
Dr Peter Ewer is an Australian historian and author.
He is published in internationally renowned academic journals the Journal of Military History (University of Virginia). He has also published in the Journal of Transport History (University of Manchester Press, UK), and a range of local history journals, including Australian Historical Studies (University of Melbourne).
Forgotten Anzacs: the campaign in Greece, 1941, published in 2008, was the first extensive re-examination of the Greek campaign since the publication of the official histories in Australia and New Zealand in the 1950s. The revised edition of the book published in 2016, incorporates fresh archival research into British planning for the campaign, shedding new light on the ANZAC contribution to the defence of the Greece.
Peter served as the historical advisor to the 42nd Street Memorial Trust, the community organisation that built the memorial at Tsikalaria Street, Tsikalaria, Crete, to commemorate the fighting there on 27 May 1941, and unveiled by the New Zealand Governor General on 19 May 2016.