NZ veterans commemorate WWII in Crete

NZ veterans commemorate WWII in Crete

Four New Zealand war veterans in their 90s have made the journey to Crete, where they fought Nazi Germany soldiers 75 years ago.

The Battle for Crete is considered New Zealand's most savage of World War II. It was acknowledged as such by the Governor-General, who will soon be moved into yet another high-powered post.

A small patch of New Zealand on a village hilltop is dedicated those who were killed, who fought and were captured during the Battle for Crete 75 years ago.

Tony Madden was one of those shot and taken prisoner by German forces.

"I guess it's all scary but there's a lot of excitement about it too, so you don't have time to be scared."

Just 12 of the nearly 8000 New Zealanders who fought in Crete are alive today. Four travelled back for the commemorations.

"It's a great place I'd like to come back again, but I doubt it if I do. I'll be over 100," says New Zealand veteran Bill Bristow.

The Government only funded the trip after media pressure, but the veterans feel they should be treated better.

"What really has annoyed me was our great leader spending all the money on that flag nonsense," says New Zealand veteran Roye Hammond.

Crete was considered New Zealand's hardest campaign of World War II -- 671 of our soldiers died. Most are buried at Souda Bay cemetery, many in unmarked graves.

Historian Chris Pugsley has made the pilgrimage more than a dozen times. Every time he gets cross.

"Here the New Zealand commanders let their soldiers down. The New Zealanders lost Crete."

The Governor-General alluded to the failures in his speech.

"It's fair to say some reputations were enhanced while others were dented."

Jerry Mateparae is in his final months as Queen's representative. It's the latest job on an impressive CV -- Chief of Army, Chief of Defence and briefly top spy as head of the GCSB.

Next up he's expected to become a top diplomat. Newshub sources have confirmed the rumours are true -- Sir Jerry will be the next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He seems reluctant to talk about it just yet, high-tailing it after the service and reneging on an agreed interview.

As the soldiers left for another year, there was an impromptu waiata -- a tribute 75 years in the making.