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Book Review - The Gatekeepers of Galatas – the untold story

By: Brian Taaffe (587/35733)
Publisher: Sabicas ISBN: 978-0-646-45735-7

Author Brian Taaffe has lived and worked in Australia for over 20 years. Taking a keen interest in the intertwined history of both his adopted country and his country of birth. New Zealand, he travelled to Greece and Crete to follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs during the Second World War. On Crete he was confronted with the extraordinary feats of his father’s unit during the German airborne invasion of May 1941.

Outside the village of Galatas, drivers of the New Zealand Divisional Petrol Company – a scratch unit of non-infantry – fought Hitler’s elite 3rd Parachute Regiment to a standstill. The drivers never took a backward step over six tumultuous days of fighting despite the loss of all their officers in the initial assault.

After the war the deeds of this mixed bunch of larrikins would be honoured by the very parachute regiment they almost wiped out. However, even today, their efforts are barely recognised in their homeland.

The Author was confronted with the courageous deeds of the Cretan villagers who fought alongside young Antipodeans – deed for which afterwards they paid dearly – and those of Australians, the brave 2/7 rearguard being abandoned at Sfakia and the troops at Iraklio left in the lurch. And then there was Rethymno.

November 2007


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