By Jeremy Sollars
If you’re driving along the Cunningham Highway towards the Gap in the next couple of days you’ll spot a fluro-vested figure bearing the flag of Greece – along with a ‘Lest We Forget’ banner.
Andreas Leonakis is on his third ‘Anzac Memorial Walk of Remembrance’ from Brisbane to Wallangarra and back again.
He’s walking to raise awareness of what he says is the “incredible bond” between the Anzacs who fought in the Battle of Crete during the Second World War and the people of Crete, and to raise money for Mates4Mates, who provide support to returned Aussie veterans and their families.
Andreas’ father Tim was among the many brave patriots of Crete who formed an organised resistance against the Nazis after their invasion of the largest of the Greek islands, leading to the Battle of Crete in May 1941.
Andreas began his third trek at the Paniyiri Greek Festival at Brisbane’s Musgrave Park on Sunday 20 May – the anniversary of the day the Germans invaded Crete – and he caught up with the Free Times on his way through Warwick earlier today, Wednesday 20 June.
He’s walking to Gladfield today and Maryvale tomorrow, and expects to be back in Brisbane in the first week of July.
Andreas said his dad chose to emigrate to Australia – in the early 1960s – with many other Cretans largely due to the bonds formed between the islanders and the Anzacs during the war.
“He always said the Anzacs were the bravest of soldiers anywhere,” Andreas said.
“As well as Cretan people coming to Australia, some of the Anzacs went back and married Cretan girls after the war.
“The Battle of Crete is not one which many people are familiar with but the Anzacs fought with a lot of bravery.
“There is a very strong relationship between the people of Crete and the Anzacs.”
Give Andreas a honk if you spot him on the highway and visit mates4mates.org