In 1941, during the Second World War, as Australian and Allied troops began withdrawing from Greece, many were relocated to the island of Crete to sustain the Royal Navy’s garrison. While German forces were initially engaged in other battles, they sought to capture the island’s three main airfields, launching an assault on Crete on 20 May.
The island was attacked from above by over 9500 German paratroopers. British, Australian, and New Zealand troops stood in unity alongside the Cretans.
While the Allies lacked the weaponry and airspace (the presence in the skies) compared to their attackers, they were ultimately outnumbered. Despite their tireless efforts, the defenders were eventually overwhelmed.
Despite their unified and desperate attempts to hold Crete, this costly action caused the troops to suffer heavily. There were over 7000 casualties and more than 11,000 soldiers taken as prisoners of war, including 5600 Australians.
The popular Australia at War series continues with this uncirculated coin, paying tribute to the Australian Second World War soldiers who persisted against insurmountable odds at Crete. This coin will be cherished by military historians, coin collectors and those whose families have served in conflict.
The coloured bars on the card represent the medal ribbons presented in the Second World War.