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You know that there are people that bring work home, but there are also people that prefer to bring work on vacation. The problem is that I love so much my job, that when I travel aroud the world, I want to visit places that have something to do with my job. I'm a guide, a WW2 guide, that's why I'm always looking for places where I can visit WW1 or WW2 battlefiends or cemeteries. Three years ago I was in Athens and I visited the fantastic War museum and the Phaleron War Cemetery and Memorial, last October I was in Crete and I visited the Suda Bay War Cemetery and Battlefiends, and now in a week I will be in Thessaloniki to visit the Monastir Road Indian Cemetery, the Zeitenlik WW1 Cemetery and memorials, and Mikra British Cemetery.
Here is what I saw, and what I learned....
Crete's excellent harbours were a potentially important base of operations for the Royal Navy. Anxious to crush Greek resistance and to secure her southern flank before commencing offensive operations against Russia, German forces planned the assault of Crete.On 20 May 1941 the Germans launched a massive airborne attack using paratroopers against the British, Australian, New Zealand and Greek troops defenting the island. Despite ferocious resistance and heavy casualties, the German paratroopers captured Maleme airfield and gained the upper hand. After many days of desperate fighting, the British, Australian, New Zealand and Greek troops were forced to evacuate in island. Over the nights of 28 to 31 May the Royal Navy successfully evacuated 18.000 troops. The Battle for Crete was a German victory but a costy one. it is estimated that out of an assault force of just over 22.000 men, the Germans suffered over 6.500 casualties, of whichover 4.000 were killed. Of the total Commonwealthforce in Crete of 32.000 men, approximately 18.000 were evacuated, 12.000 were taken prisoner and 2.000 died.
Suda Bay War cemetery contains just over 1.500 Commonwealth war graves, half of which are unidentified. The cemetery also contains 19 WW1 burials, seven burials of other nationalities and 37 non-world war graves. Commonwealth servicemen who died on Crete and whose graves are not known are commemorated by name on the Athens Memorial, which stands in Phaleron War Cemetery in Athens
Italian troops invedad Greece in October 1940, but were driven back by Greeks within weeks.The italian counter-attack of March 1941 also failed and Germany was forced to come to the aid of her Ally on 6 April 1941. The greek and Commonweath force fought with great tenacity, but Athens felt, and the campaign was over. Phaleron War Cemetery contains now 2.029 Commonwealth servicemen of the WWII buried, but 596 of the burials are unidentified. Within the cemetery stands the Phaleron Cremation Memorial, commemorating 74 men of the army of undivided India, who died during the campaigns in Greece and Crete during the WW2 and The Athens Memorial, commemorating nearly 3.000 members of the land forces with no known grave who lost their lives during the campaigns in Greece and Crete.