Abstract detail

Title The Australians in Greece and Crete: a study of an intimate wartime relationship

This paper discusses Australia’s relationship with its smaller ally: Greece. Although it has often been referred to in the public arena as ‘warm and close,’ this relationship has never been scrutinized to establish its authenticity. The focus of the discussion will be on personal relations between Australian soldiers and Greek citizens during the campaigns on the Greek mainland and in Crete. The altruism of the Greeks was one of the most striking features of the Greek and Crete campaigns. Unlike Egypt, where the Australians felt alienated by the values and customs of the Egyptian people, in Greece they warmed to the behaviour of the Greeks. Through their interaction during the war, the Greeks came to regard the Australians, not only as friends, but also as brothers, forging an intimate relationship that has been incorporated in the social memory of both countries. The campaigns on mainland Greece and Crete are an illuminating study of why people choose to behave in altruistic ways in situations that could lead to their death. This paper explores what triggered this altruistic response from the Greek population toward the Australian troops. Or was it simply a case of societal expectations?

Primary author
Maria Hill