Maria Hill’s aim in writing Diggers and Greeks was to put human relations at the forefront of any discussions of these campaigns. For too long military campaigns have been viewed through the prism of military strategy, as if people’s emotions, temperament and behaviour have no bearing on what occurred in the battlefield and beyond.
This compelling book combines details of the campaigns with an account of the response of Greeks and Cretans to the Allied forces on their soil. It reveals the personal relations that developed between Australian soldiers and Greek civilians and soldiers; these were sometimes hostile but in other cases developed into friendships that lasted decades after the war had finished. Maria Hill has trawled through archives in Athens and Canberra to show that while miscommunication between the Greek General Staff and the allied forces was frequent, the situation on the ground was far more complex. Her book also shows why the campaigns on mainland Greece and Crete compelled people to behave in altruistic ways, even when it meant placing themselves in danger. It proves that it is possible to form successful relations with people of a completely different culture in conflict situations, and that those relationships are important and should be nurtured, as they are vital to the wellbeing of all involved.