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Sir Charles Bennett, Commanding Officer of the 28th Māori Battalion describes the wintery conditions atop Mt Olympus (Greece) where the Māori Battalion were camped awaiting the arrival of the Germans.

Transcript

I think all in all Greece in particular, and so was Crete, was a pretty unhappy experience for the whole of the New Zealand division. Although in some ways we appreciated the experience. We had leave in Athens when we first arrived and we took the opportunity of going up to the Acropolis and things of that nature and I enjoyed that experience very much. Our Brigade the Division, was pushed up into the North of Greece and the Māori Battalion took up a position on the historic Mt Olympus, right on the mountain itself. We were looking towards Salonika to the north and the Germans were supposed to come down from the Balkans or down that coastline somewhere and down into Greece. So, we took up a position in the Olympus Mountains and they were mountainous and it was winter time too.  So that was not a very happy experience...and it's also memorable it's the first time we ever heard live bullets in actual warfare, was on Mt Olympus when the Germans attacked us. It was an uncomfortable experience up there, Mt Olympus. We lived in bivouacs, it was raining most of the time, and the country was hilly, no leave of any kind, we were stuck in our positions and waiting for the Germans to come down...

 

Sound file - Extracts from Interview with Sir Charles Bennett, interviewer Jim Sullivan, recorded 31 March and 1 April 1993, commissioned by the Ministry of External Relations.

From the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library Oral History Centre,OHColl-0217-1.  All rights reserved. Permission of the Library and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade must be obtained before any re-use of this sound file.

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Detail of Officers at Katerini
Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: DA-14231
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.