520km walk to commemorate a WWII connection. Only a Cretan could do this…
To most people the idea of walking from Brisbane to Wallangarra might seem a bit mad.
But not only did Andreas Leonakis do that, he’s also walking back again.
Mr Leonakis was on his way through Warwick yesterday on the return leg.
“I’m walking to raise awareness of the connection between the Anzacs and the people of Crete,” he said.
“In 1941 German forces invaded the island of Crete in the Mediterranean and forced the Anzac forces stationed there to retreat and evacuate.
“The Anzac boys had to walk 260km across the island to the evacuation point.
“Most were evacuated but a couple of thousand Anzacs remained and were fed, sheltered and hidden by the Cretans.”
Mr Leonakis said people were aware of the French Resistance but not so of the Cretan Resistance.
“These Cretan people died to protect the Anzac forces, they would deny knowledge of the whereabouts of the hidden soldiers and would be executed by the Germans,” he said.
“Their resistance changed the course of the war.
“The Germans were held there and got to Russia later than planned in winter, which was the start of their downfall.”
Mr Leonakis said he was just the messenger.
“The focus is not on me, it’s on the story,” he said.
“I’ve met so many people along the way and almost all have a connection somehow to the war.
“I hear their stories and tell them mine.
“I’m proud and honoured to be doing this and I’ve been flabbergasted by the hospitality and generosity of the people out this way.
At this point Mr Leonakis motioned that he‘d better keep walking.
“I’ve got 30kms to Maryvale today, which is more than I’ve attempted in a day so far.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Warwick Daily News