Friday, January 08, 2010

Chania – 30 December 2009

Seaside resort of Bali, on the way to Chania
ChaniaIt was time to explore Western Crete, and we had been told Chania was the most beautiful town on the island. It largely escaped being bombed in WWII, so the old town is still made up of narrow streets, lined with Venetian houses. The harbour still has it's Venetian lighthouse, fortress and shipyards. This is definitely a place to relax, the only non-relaxing aspect, is the stressful drive in and out, through the modern town. I had investigated accommodation here, and although it would have been lovely, the 30 minute drive in and out of town would have spoilt the therapeutic effect.
ChaniaAfter leaving Chania we drove to the nearby town of Souda where the Allied War Cemetery is a green contrast to the surrounding barren hills. About a third of the war graves are New Zealand soldiers, many of whom were defending the airfield, which fell to the Germans in May 1941. It was a very moving experience to visit this now tranquil spot.Allied War Cemetery
Men, in khaki dressed.
Twenty columns, twenty rows; a rose between the headstones grows
Rank and file, creed and race, all are gathered in this place
Now all here is neat and ordered, not so then, for the war dead
Cretan soil their final rest; four hundred men in khaki dressed.

New Zealand's shores they'll never reach; Souda Bay, their nearest beach
May '41, the leaders knew, the date their foe's arrival's due
Enigma signals told it all, but Freyberg had to hold the call
Strategy, played close-to-chest, doomed these men in khaki dressed.

Brothers, uncles, fathers, sons: family heroes every one
Heard the call their country made; great the price that many paid
Now that generation's passed and we wander on this grass by sea
And in our freedom feel so blessed by all the men in khaki dressed.
M Grainger, Souda Bay, December 2009

No comments: