Battle of Crete New Zealand veteran dies age 101

Portrait of Captain Haddon Vivian Donald, Military Cross, World War II. Taken at Maadi, Egypt, on 23 October 1942 by an official photographer. Photo: Public domain / NZ National Library via

One of the oldest survivors of the Battle of Crete, New Zealander Haddon Donald has died yesterday at the age of 101, Radio New Zealand reports.

Lieutenant colonel Donald served in the 22nd Battalion and was involved in campaigns in Greece, Crete, Egypt and Italy.

In an interview with RNZ’s Kim Hill in 2001, Lt-Col Donald described defending the Maleme airfield in Crete and waiting for the Germans to launch their attack.

He said they had dug in using tin hats and bayonets.

“We were mostly young and pretty keen and we thought we were a match for the Germans, and I’m quite sure we were. Put a bunch of Kiwis against a bunch of any other nation and I’m sure we’d come out on top, but I’m sure we weren’t sufficiently trained or sufficiently equipped for this sort of a war.

“Nothing could have been much worse … we knew that we were in for a stiff battle and that we had very little equipment and were up against the crack troops that probably the world has ever seen.

“That there’s never been an army that was better equipped or better trained than that army that was about to descend on us.”

Lt-Col Donald was awarded the Military Cross in 1942, the Distinguished Service Order in 1945 and was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit by the United States in 1947.