At what point does the will to survive on the battlefield give way to bloodlust?
The Battle for Crete was at once the most modern and the most ancient of wars. For a week Australians and New Zealand forces were relentlessly hammered from the skies by the Luftwaffe and pursued across Crete by some of the most accomplished and best equipped forces Hitler could muster.
On the morning of 27 May 1941, however, all that was about to change. When a unit of German mountain troops approached the Allies’ defensive line – known as 42nd Street – men from the Australian 2/7th and 2/8th Battalions and New Zealanders from several battalions counter-attacked with fixed bayonets. By the end, German bodies were strewn across the battlefield.
Acclaimed historian Peter Monteath draws on recollections and records of Australian, New Zealand, British and German soldiers and local Cretans to reveal the truth behind one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War.
Publisher: NewSouth Publishing
Jeff Popple, Canberra Weekly wrote:
This is military history at its best: deeply researched, powerfully told and proving that the essence of war is men killing other men.
Hamish McDonald, The Saturday Paper wrote:
Professor Peter Monteath’s examination of the ANZAC involvement in the battle for Crete during the early years of World War II is one of the most readable accounts of war I have encountered in a long time. In clear prose, he tracks the retreat of the ANZACs through Greece and onto the island of Crete where they eventually faced a superior invading force of German airborne troops. The central focus of Monteath’s book is the fearsome bayonet charges which occurred during the fighting and the allegations that the ANZACs acted outside the rules of war; claims which he examines in a fair and convincing way. A terrific piece of historical writing.
World War II continues to be mined for popular histories extolling Digger courage and endurance. At first glance Peter Monteath’s Battle on 42nd Street looks like such a book – but it is in fact a deeper, compelling narrative by an academic historian.