Prevelly Australia, Ode to an Australian Soldier that Remembered
The August night in 1941 when Mr. Geoff Edwards was evacuated from Crete on the HMS “Thrasher”, he vowed that he would never forget the Cretan people and Monks of the Holy Monastery of Preveli for saving his and other Allied troops lives after the “Battle of Crete“.
In 1978, Mr. Edwards commenced the construction of the St. John The Theologian chapel in Prevelly (his rendering of the Monastery’s name) Western Australia, the village he founded, and he gave it to Greek people as a token of gratitude to the Head Monk of the Preveli Monastery, his fellow monks, and many villagers from surrounding districts who did so much for Allied Servicemen in the grim days of 1941. Numerous 6th Australian Division Unit.
Associations, ex-servicemen and members of the West Australian Greek Community donated sufficient funds to furnish the Chapel. Where applicable Unit Colour Patches have been affixed to the donated fixtures and fittings. The opening ceremony took place in 1979.
In 1984, Mr. Edwards set about establishing a fund to help Cretans in the province of Rethymnon. A large amount of money was raised by donations from United Kingdom and Australian Ex-Service Associations and individuals and grants by the New Zealand and Australian Governments (on behalf of ex-servicemen). Funds were invested and the annual Scholarship named after the 1941 Head Monk of the Preveli Monastery to this day is granted each year in rotation to a university student from the prefectures of Hania, Rethymnon and Heraklion
In 1989, Mr. Edwards published his book ” The Road to Preveli” (second edition in 1992) and part of the proceeds of the sale of the book goes towards the care and maintenance of the Chapel of St. John The Theologian at Preveli, Western Australia and the Preveli Monastery in Crete, Greece.
In 1991, Mr. Edwards donated a Memorial Water Fountain which was built in the grounds of the Preveli Monastery on Crete. The Memorial Water Fountain was officially blessed by Bishop Eirineos, assisted by Abbot Kalinikos Spitadakis and other monks on the 24th May, 1991. The cost of the Memorial Water Fountain was also met with funds from the sale of his book and it is a permanent memorial to the courage and bravery of the head Monk of the Monastery of Preveli in 1941, Agathangelos Lagouvardos, his fellow monks and the Cretan people who saved the lives of many Allied troops.
Finally in the year 2000, his last vision will be fulfilled: the erection of a Shrine of Peace and Remembrance. His last wish was that this shrine should be called “Shrine of Peace & Remembrance” by including all those from both sides who participated. It will be located near the Holy Monastery of Preveli, overlooking the Libyan Sea and close to Limni, where the allies assembled on the night HMS THRASHER took them to safety. The Shrine is to honour and remember the Cretan civilian men and women, the Greek militia and the servicemen of Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand who gave their lives in the Battle of Crete, 1941.
Mr. Edwards was awarded an order of Australia Medal (OAM), on 7th April, 2000, for services to the Greek Community and shortly afterwards, peacefully passed away on 11th April, 2000. There is no doubt that one soldier of the 2/11th Battalion Australian Army remembered and more than repaid his debt of gratitude to the many Cretans who befriended him.
January 26, 2000: Veteran’s efforts for Greeks rewarded
War veteran Geoffrey Edwards of Armadale, Western Australia, was awarded the OAM, Order of Australia Medal on Australia Day, 26th January, 2000. The award was for service to the Hellenic community, particularly for the establishment of St. John the Theologian Chapel at Prevelly, Margaret River, Western Australia.
Mr. Edwards (81) is revered by the Greek people of Perth, Western Australia, for services to the Hellenic community. Mr. Edwards served with the 2/11th Infantry Battalion in Greece and Crete during 1940-41. During the German occupation, he was a prisoner of war, but subsequently escaped and was hidden and cared for by the local Cretan community and the clergy near Preveli, Crete. In appreciation, he built a chapel for Western Australia’s Greek Orthodox Church.
April 11. A great loss.
OBITUARY – GEOFFREY EDWARDS 1919-2000
“MIGRANT BUILT LINK TO CRETE”
A man who described himself as “only a Pommy migrant” but who went on to fight for Australia in Crete and received an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the Greek community, has died.
Geoffrey Edwards 81, of Armadale Western Australia, died on 11th April 2000, four days after receiving the medal from the Governor, Major-General Michael Jeffrey, at Government House in Perth.
In the early 1950s Mr. Edwards bought a big parcel of land on the coast about 10 km from Margaret River and called it Prevelly Park. He built a caravan park and chalets there.
In 1979, Mr. Edwards built St. John the Theologian Chapel on a hill at Prevelly Park as a lasting reminder of his love for the Cretan community who helped him escape the Germans during World War 11. The chapel was furnished with donations from the Greek community and ex-servicemen organisations.
Mr. Edwards was born in Shewsbury, England, in 1919 and was four when he reached Australia with his parents who took up a 48 hectare group settlement farm in the Peel Estate, south of Fremantle, Western Australia. In one of the two books he wrote, Mr. Edwards described the tough early days on the farm when his parents, two brothers and a sister lived in a tin shed and the furniture was old packing cases.
Mr. Edwards stayed on the farm until he was 16. Later he worked in Kalgoorlie before enlisting for World War II. He was posted to Crete and fought in the Battle of Crete in May 1941. He was captured and imprisoned but escaped and a shepherd led him to safety at the Preveli Monastery. The Monastery had become a rallying point for British, New Zealand and Australian soldiers who had escaped from prisoner of war camps.
Mr. Edwards later raised money for a fountain and a plaque at the Monastery. The plaque was unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Crete and expressed the gratitude of the Australian, British and New Zealand servicemen for the help they got from the clergy and the people of Crete in World War II.
Mr. Edwards married Beryl Byrne in 1944. The couple built their first home in Scarborough and named it “Prevelly”, after the Monastery in Crete. Mr. Edwards went into real estate in the early 1960s and in the early 1970s bought Whitby Falls coach house which he turned into a tourist facility. Mr. Edwards wrote two books. The first, an autobiography, “The Road to Prevelly”, and the second, a novel called “Operation Black Swan”. Mrs. Beryl Edwards died in 1998.
Mr. Edwards is survived by his daughter, Marilyn Sadleir, and grandsons Simon and Nicholas.
“The Road to Prevelly” begins with early days on the Group Settlement in Western Australia then, during World War 2, travels through the mountains of Greece down to the Monastery of Preveli on the south coast of Crete – and back to Western Australia. It then makes its way down to Margaret River and 100 acres of bush land right on the coast. The story continues with the struggle to establish the holiday resort, develop the village of Prevelly and finally build the lovely Greek Chapel of St. John the Theologian on the hillside overlooking the village and ocean.
- Preveli Monastery
- Preveli Project
- Geoff Edwards Story
- Prevelly, Australia
- Escape by Submarine HMS Thrasher
- Battle of Crete
© explorecrete.com All Rights Reserved. Reproduction or copying without permission is prohibited.