Battle of Crete vet Anthony Madden, 97, is heading back to the Greek island


Stuff. — Α  97-year-old war veteran, Anthony Madden, a widower and father-of-three, who lives in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, has vivid memories of his time spent fighting on Crete during World War II.

Anthony Madden is making one final trip back to the Greek island on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Crete, fought between May 20 and June 1 in 1941.

While Madden is one of several Kiwis who fought to remain alive today, he is the only one well enough to travel.

The battle began when Nazi Germany started an airborne invasion of the Mediterranean island. Greek forces and allies, including New Zealand troops, tried to repel the assault.

“It was a bit hair-raising at times,” Madden, who was wounded on the first day of the invasion, admitted.

He was one of 7700 Kiwis stationed on Crete. Many made it off the island, however, 2180 were taken as prisoners and 671 died.

On the day he was injured Madden was transporting prisoners between Maleme on the west of the island and the prisoners’ camp at Chania.

On his way back from a trip he went to pick up his guitar from a canteen at the village of Agia Marina.

When he arrived the canteen was closed, so he wandered around to the back door. He then noticed a man standing in the doorway.

“All you could see were his trousers and his rifle. The German field grey was much the same colour as the Greek police trousers.”

Madden called out and the man came out into the open. He was a German paratrooper.

“He looked at me, and I looked at him. We were both sort of really startled.”

The man shot at Madden twice, missing him, but a third bullet hit him in the leg.

Madden finally took a shot at the paratrooper but missed, at which point the man ducked back into the doorway. A friend of the paratrooper in an opposite doorway then ran out in front of Madden.

Knowing he had to escape, Madden eventually managed to get up and run away to his truck.

He drove to Maleme where he was bound up by doctors  who told him: “You’ll be going home on that one.”

A hospital ship docked in the harbour was scheduled to leave that night and Madden was given medicine and a cigarette, and put aside.

However, when the wounded were being evacuated they missed him in the dark.

Madden remained in Maleme until the capitulation, at which point he was taken prisoner by the Germans.


“I was pretty lucky,” he declared. “I came through it okay.”