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Australia's War 1939-1945
A great risk

Introduction

'A Great Risk in a good cause'
Australians in Greece and Crete April—May 1941
book cover
Published by Department of Veterans' Affairs, May 2001.

In March 1941, the British War Cabinet, with the approval of the Australian government, committed a combined Australian, New Zealand and British force to the defence of Greece. A German invasion of the country was imminent and Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies declared that ‘we cannot leave Greece in the lurch’. On 9 April the Germans invaded Greece and, by the end of May, had defeated both the Greek army and the British Empire force on the mainland and on the island of Crete. For Australia, Greece was a disaster; nearly 600 Australians were killed and over 5,000 taken prisoner. A Great Risk in a Good Cause, produced for the 60th anniversary of the battle for Greece and the unveiling of the Hellenic Australian Memorial in Crete, tells the story of that ill-fated campaign.

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map
Maps of Greece and Crete.

A Great Risk in a Good Cause tells the story of the Australian participation in the battle for Greece and Crete in April-May 1941. In March-April 1941 Australians, mainly men and women of the 6th Division AIF (Australian Imperial Force) were sent, as part of a larger British Empire force, to defend Greece. On 9 April, Germany invaded the country and by the end of the month the British Empire and Greek armies had been defeated. Most of the British force, including the Australians, was evacuated by the British Royal Navy and elements of the Royal Australian Navy to Egypt or to the island of Crete. On 20 May, German paratroopers invaded Crete and by 29 May the island had fallen.

 

 

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Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945