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Sir Jerry heads to Crete for anniversary

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/05/2016
Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae is heading to Greece to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.

He leaves on Sunday and returns on May 27.

Some 7700 New Zealanders fought in the battle which began on May 20, 1941.

Of those, 671 died, 967 were wounded, 2180 were taken prisoner and two, Captain Charles Upham and Sergeant Alfred Hulme, won Victoria Crosses.

Sir Jerry, a former chief of the New Zealand Defence Force will attend a number of commemoration events, including an Australian commemorative service and the unveiling of a memorial plaque at 42nd Street - the scene of an pivotal attack by New Zealand and Australian troops.

He'll go on a battlefield tour, attend a New Zealand reception and a ceremony at the New Zealand monument at Galatas.

There'll be a service of remembrance at Souda Bay War Cemetery and ceremonies at the German Military Cemetery and the Maleme Airport memorial.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she's particularly pleased to represent New Zealand at the commemorations because her uncle and grandfather, as well as members of her extended family, fought in the battle as members of the 28th Maori Battalion.

"The battle may not be as well known as some other World War II conflicts but it left an indelible stamp on many families. I grew up knowing people named for places in Crete," she said before departing for Greece on Friday.

Sir Jerry is travelling on to London where he'll meet the Queen.

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