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PM Launches Oral History Of Battle Of Crete

A newly-published oral history of the Battle of Crete will help to ensure that the stories of those New Zealanders who participated in the battle will be preserved for ever, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

A Unique Sort of Battle: New Zealanders Remember Crete, was officially launched by the Prime Minister at Parliament this afternoon.

Among those attending the ceremony were veterans of the Battle, including a number of those whose stories feature in A Unique Sort of Battle.

"The fifteen stories told in A Unique Sort of Battle vividly convey the drama and sheer terror of the battle which began sixty years ago, on 20 May 1941, when German paratroopers landed on Crete and were met with fierce resistance from New Zealand and Allied troops.

"The ensuing battle left thousands of New Zealanders killed, wounded, or captured as prisoners of war.

"A Unique Sort of Battle records the stories not only of frontline New Zealand soldiers, but also of others who contributed to the campaign, such as nurse Jo Adamson and Royal Navy seaman John Blackie.

"The book also captures the sprit of the enduring, friendship between the peoples of Crete and New Zealand. The story of Ned Nathan is that of a soldier who fought in Crete, returned to the island after the war to marry a local woman, after which they came back to New Zealand and raised a family here. Ned Nathan's sons, Manos, Alec and Evan, are at today's launch.

"I congratulate the Ministry of Culture's Megan Hutching for the outstanding job she has done in recording and editing the stories of those who served in Crete.

"More than two hundred people responded to the Ministry's questionnaire, and it must have been a very difficult task indeed to select from these the stories which finally feature in A Unique Sort of Battle.

"I also congratulate the publisher, HarperCollins Ltd, for producing a beautifully designed book.

"A Unique Sort of Battle is recommended reading for anyone is curious about an episode which ranks as one of New Zealand's most searing wartime experiences," Helen Clark said.


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