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About "Diggers and Greeks"

Little is known about the real reasons that Australia committed troops to Greece. Australian historians have, for too long, neglected the Greek and Crete campaigns, and what has been written until now has ignored the Greek side of the story. Never before has the impact of fifthcolumn activity that is, the behaviour of German collaborates and sympathisers, on Australia’s military relationship with Greece been investigated.

This compelling book combines details of the campaigns with an account of the response of Greeks and Cretans to the Allied forces on their soil. It reveals the personal relations that developed between Australian soldiers and Greek civilians and soldiers; these were sometimes hostile but in other cases developed into friendships that lasted decades after the war had finished. Maria Hill has trawled through archives in Athens and Canberra to show that while miscommunication between the Greek General Staff and the allied forces was frequent, the situation on the ground was far more complex. Her book also shows why the campaigns on mainland Greece and Crete compelled people to behave in altruistic ways, even when it meant placing themselves in danger. It proves that it is possible to form successful relations with people of a completely different culture in conflict situations, and that those relationships are important and should be nurtured, as they are vital to the wellbeing of all involved.

Diggers and Greeks Book Trailer


‘Most studies of the Greek campaign have tended to gloss over the contribution of the Greeks. Maria Hill’s book adds a completely new perspective to the campaign. She tells great stories of the interaction between Greek people and Australian soldiers.’
Professor David Horner, Official Historian and Professor of Australian Defence History, Australian National University.

‘In Diggers and Greeks Maria Hill considers existing accounts of the Greek and Crete campaigns alongside the Greek version of events. She offers a new understanding of those campaigns, to an extent where I doubt that existing interpretations can be viewed as the whole story any more.’
Dr Christopher Clarke, RAAF Historian and Head of the Office of Air Force History, Air Power Development Centre, Tuggeranongg.

‘Diggers and Greeks provides the first major comprehensive study of Australians in Greece during the Second World War. Focusing on the relationships Australian soldiers formed with their Greek allies, this is a moving and powerful story which makes a significant and profound contribution to Australian war history. In bringing together a blend of cultural history and military history, this book provides new insights into the war experience of Australian soldiers in a highly readable and riveting account.’
Professor Joy Damousi, Head of the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne.


Table of Contents
Military terminology
Part 1 The Greek campaign
1 Greece – the second Gallipoli?
2 Australia and the Greek campaign: Trickery and deception
3 Spies, treachery and the Greek–Australian military alliance
4 The Australian campaign on the Greek mainland
Part 2 Australian soldiers in Greece
5 Sheilas, nightclubs and boozing
6 Relationships between the ‘Greyhounds of Greece’ and their Greek allies
Part 3 The Crete campaign
7 The battle of Crete and why it was lost
8 The Australian Battle at Rethymnon
9 The Cretans and the arrival of the Australians
10 Australian indiscipline and larrikinism on Crete
Part 4 Behind enemy lines
11 Evaders and escapers
12 Escape from Greece
13 On the run in Crete