A few years ago whilst on holiday in Western Crete we visited the Souda Bay cemetery, which was gifted to the War Graves Commission by the Greek people after WWII. There are 1527 graves of service men who lost their lives in the Battle of Crete, which took place between May 20 to 31, 1941. Most of those buried there are British but there are 447 New Zealanders and 197 Australians. Some are unknown. Most of them were late teens or early twenties. So young.
Souda Bay is a horse shoe shaped bay to the east of Chania. The cemetery, which is surrounded by eucalyptus trees, lies at the bottom of the horse shoe facing out into the bay. The setting is quiet and almost beautiful. The sea, which was like a mill pond that day, gently lapped the nearby shore. The cemetery is immaculate with rows of white head stones, neatly mown grass and tidy flower beds. There was not a weed, dead flower head or piece of litter to be seen. The cemetery is protected by the hills on its' northern side and the White Mountains to the south. These cast a shadow over the sea and give a slightly eerie feel. But the overwhelming impression is of a very peaceful, tranquil and serene location, making it very difficult to contemplate the bloody battle which took place not far away. I did not want to leave and there are not words adequate to describe what I saw.