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The Gatekeepers of Galatas - The Untold Story
The Gatekeepers of Galatas - The Untold Story
Taaffe, Brian
Sabicas, Melbourne, 2006 A personal journey of the author, Brian Taaffe, travelling in his father's footsteps in the 'tyre marks' of the New Zealand Division as they fought their way through Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy. The author, like his father and other young antipodeans when landing in Greece and Crete, would be beguiled and fascinated by ancient Mediterranean cultures steeped in classical history and mythology. The central focus of the book details the extraordinary achievements of the New Zealand Divisional Petrol Company's drivers (of whom his father was a member) who exceeded everyone's expectations, especially their brigade commander, Colonel (later Major General) Howard Kippenberger. Fighting alongside Cretan locals and Greek soldiers, they kept the elite 3rd German Paratroop Regiment out of the village of Galatas for the entire six days of the desperate battle on Crete, unyielding to the end even as the New Zealand line collapsed about them - despite having lost all of their officers in the first brutal hours. Allan Clark, the English historian was moved to describe them - "the valiant Petrol Company, a unit that must have killed more Germans per man on its strength than any other on the island". Afterwards, they would be traumatised by this battle, with most survivors going into captivity. Yet disappointingly, neither they nor their Greek comrades ever received credit from their homeland for their efforts in defending Galatas and Hania - the beautiful Venetian harbour town behind - despite being honoured by their German adversaries. In the end, this story is symbolic of many other stories and shared stories of fathers and grandfathers who fought in the Mediterranean theatre in the Second World War....
Second hand Trade Paperback