Telling dad’s war story

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

THIS An­zac Day will be es­pe­cially poignant for one Mt Eden au­thor as he re­leases his first book about a heroic World War Two bat­tle.

Gra­ham Power’s book, The Bat­tle of Pink Hill – Crete, 1941, de­picts the 12-day strug­gle on the Mediter­ranean is­land in which more than 670 Ki­wis were killed.

He in­ter­viewed his vet­eran fa­ther Les­lie Power for the book, agree­ing to con­tinue the in­ter­view at a later date.

But Les­lie, who was evac­u­ated from Crete on June 1, 1941, died of a heart at­tack in 1995 be­fore they fin­ished the story.

“We got as far as the land­ing on Crete. The in­ter­view with my fa­ther took over an hour and we only cov­ered the first cou­ple of years.”

Mr Power was de­ter­mined to tell the story and spent six years work­ing on the book. He vis­ited Crete in 2005.

“Go­ing to Crete was the high­light. It was a bit unreal – that peo­ple were killing each other left, right and cen­tre. It is ex­tremely peace­ful now.”

Of the nine vet­er­ans Mr Power spoke to dur­ing his re­search, four re­main alive.

“I con­cen­trate on this bat­tle, my book is hope­fully bal­anced be­cause it shows the Ger­man side too,” he says.

Mr Power’s wife, Josephine, says her hus­band has had a unique ex­pe­ri­ence.

“He’s be­friended all th­ese vets,” she laughs. “Gra­ham has care­fully

Mr Power’s daugh­ter Han­gone about find­ing vet­er­ans na is also en­thu­si­as­tic about and record­ing their re­memthe up­com­ing book. brances. It is a re­ally in­ter

“Now Dad has all th­ese es­t­ing view of the Bat­tle of crazy friends. He has learnt a Pink Hill by the peo­ple who lot – got a lot out of it per­son­were there.” ally that he never ex­pected.” Mr Dun­can says the au

Miss Power says her fa­ther thor has been ab­so­lutely mewas hum­bled by the hos­pitic­u­lous in his re­search. tal­ity shown when he vis­ited The Bat­tle of Pink Hill Crete and the grat­i­tude to out­lines the New Zealand New Zealan­ders who fought sol­diers on one side of the along­side the Cre­tans. hill, armed with World War

Brian Dun­can, a fam­ily One ri­fles and de­ter­mi­nafriend, helped to proof-read tion. Mr Power’s book and says it On the other side of the is an un­usual ver­sion of the hill was an elite reg­i­ment bat­tle that was ne­glected by of over 2000 Ger­man parame­dia. troop­ers, who, in the past 18 months, had over­pow­ered all op­po­si­tion in Europe.

De­spite the su­pe­rior fire­power of the Ger­man forces, the de­fend­ers suc­cess­fully re­pelled ev­ery at­tack for six days.

On the third day was a spon­ta­neous at­tack by old men, women and chil­dren armed with gar­den forks and an­cient ri­fles, who forced the sur­prised Ger­mans to flee.

The de­fend­ing forces were over­pow­ered on the evening of the sixth day when Ger­man re­in­force­ments ar­rived.

The Power fam­ily will hold a war-themed cam­ou­flage book launch.


Amaz­ing sto­ries: Gra­ham Power was for­tu­nate to hear many first-hand ac­counts of the bat­tle of Pink Hill, told by vet­er­ans in their 90s.

His­toric re­minders: Mr Power’s fa­ther, Les­lie, is sec­ond from left in the top left photo.

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