‘Muddle Tall as Treachery’
Diggers and Greeks: The Australian Campaigns in Greece and Crete, by Maria Hill; UNSW Press, 2010, 496 pages, $59.95.
Anzac Fury: The Bloody Battle of Crete 1941, by Peter Thompson; William Heinemann, 2010, 506 pages, $49.95.
It is always a pleasure to read a well informed, passionately argued case for righting a wrong, such as Maria Hill’s Diggers and Greeks: The Australian Campaigns in Greece and Crete. Dr Hill seeks to show that British, Australian and New Zealand historians have (with some exceptions) denigrated, minimised or simply blotted out the part played by the Greeks and Cretans in the campaigns of 1941. Having explored Greek as well as British and Commonwealth records, she demonstrates the value of the Greek and Cretan contribution to important battles (never shirking negative assessments when called for). The formidable fighting spirit of the people, and of the militia groups and gendarmerie, fills in the picture. Varying from place to place and between senior officers and lower ranks, everywhere dogged by unresponsive allies and by lack of arms, ammunition, food and information, Greek and Cretan troops and civilians filled far more significant roles than emerge from most campaign histories in English. It is fascinating to read Greek and Cretan rebuttals of accusations made by British and Commonwealth critics, and of their disappointment with (what seemed to them) less than wholehearted allies. I would have welcomed more of the Greek perspective.
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