Author(s): Peter Ewer
This is the largely unknown story of another Anzac force, which fought not at Gallipoli, but in Greece, during World War II. Desperately outnumbered and fighting in deeply inhospitable conditions, these Anzacs found themselves engaging in a long retreat through Greece, under constant air attack. Most of the Anzac Corps was evacuated by the end of April 1941, but many men got only as far as Crete. Fighting a German paratroop invasion there in May, large numbers were taken captive and spent four long years as prisoners of the Nazis. The campaign in Greece turned out to have uncanny parallels to the original Gallipoli operation: both were inspired by Winston Churchill, both were badly planned by British military leaders, and both ended in defeat and evacuation. Just as Gallipoli provided military academies the world over with lessons in how not to conduct a complex feat of arms, Churchill's Greek adventure reinforced fundamental lessons in modern warfare - heavy tanks could not be stopped by men armed with rifles, and Stuka dive-bombers would not be deflected by promises of air support from London that were never honoured. Until now, there has been no history on the campaign in Greece and Crete written from a truly Anzac perspective. Based on rarely accessed archives and more than 30 interviews with Australian, Greek, and New Zealand veterans, this superb book gives overdue recognition to the brave, forgotten Anzacs of 1941.
'This clear and well-written account of the campaign should do much to rescue the forgotten Anzacs from neglect by subsequent generations.' -- Jeffrey Grey Australian Book Review 'This book makes fascinating reading and does a long way in recognising these forgotten Anzacs.' -- Peter Masters Australian Defence Magazine 'Forgotten Anzacs is a timely tribute to those who took part in a neglected chapter in our military history.' -- Greg Thom Herald Sun 'This is an easy to read account of an overlooked campaign that once again demonstrates the courage of Anzacs in the face of a more powerful enemy.' -- Jean Fergurson Illawarra Mercury 'It is for those interested in history, identity, things Australian and Greek ... Forgotten Anzacs is a good book and well worth reading.' -- George Papadopoulos Neos Kosmos 'Peter Ewer deserves the thanks of all Australians and New Zealanders for writing this absorbing and moving story before the participants have all disappeared.' News Weekly 'This is an important contribution to Australian war literature ... an engrossing history of a very important Anzac campaign.' -- Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald 'Peter Ewer is one of very few Australian military historians to understand what Anzac means. This is a book that skillfully moves between the battalions of both nation bringing to the forefront whichever component the story demands, regardless of its place of origin. Ewer's true recognition of Anzac nourishes his account and he builds on that strength as he also looks at the campaign from Greek, German and British perspectives.' -- Michael McKernan The Canberra Times 'At long last the true story of Greece and Crete has been told.' -- Frank Cox, 1 Aust Corps Signals, prisoner of war 1941-1944 'As a veteran of the debacle of Greece and Crete, I am now aware of the politics of that campaign.' -- Ian Manson, 2/1st MG Battalion 'A great account of what actually happened.' -- Don Stephenson, 2/6th Battalion AIF, prisoner of war 1941-1945 'For those of us who were there, this is an outstanding history of both the Australian and New Zealand campaign in 1941.' -- Gordon Beal, 2/8th Field Company; prisoner of war, 1941-1945 'Peter Ewer's book is not simply a labour of love that restores the memory of the Anzac fighters in the Greek mainland and Crete. It is a monument of scholarly research, historical interpretation and cultural awareness, a book that explores the limits of human courage as expressed by ordinary soldiers fighting for freedom under precarious circumstances. Furthermore, it is not only military history; it is about cultural memory as an ongoing process of re-evaluating the past, and establishing social and political agendas for the future. Finally, written in a fluent and engaging narrative style, it makes a fascinating read that reveals an unfairly neglected chapter in the history of World War II.' Vrasidas Karalis, Sir Nicholas Laurantos Chair in Modern Greek, University of Sydney
Peter Ewer completed a first-class honours degree in politics at Macquarie University in 1983, and a doctorate in technology and culture from RMIT University in 2005 that also won a university research prize. Dr Ewer is currently an official in the Victorian Department of Justice, and has published in local and international history journals.