While I was writing ‘Anzac Heroes’ I came across a little unknown story about how New Zealand soldiers saved the Greek King during World War II. I was going to Greece, a country I’ve always loved, soon after writing the draft story and thought I’d go to the places that the soldiers took the King.
We stayed in a villa on a beach that the famous Greek film ‘Zorba the Greek’ was filmed. The next day we drove to Chania and walked around the old Venetian harbour located on the western side of Crete Island. I imagined the Greek King talking with the Prime Minister as they discussed what to do. It was here the King started his journey to safety with the New Zealand soldiers. The next day we drove to the hillside town of Therisso where the village people gave food and horses to the King to help him on his journey. On the third day, my daughter and her travelling partner trekked through the Samarian Gorge, while my husband and I drove to the Sougia ferry and chugged to Agia Roumeli (only accessible by boat or through the gorge). We hiked part of the gorge, meeting up with my daughter and friend partway.
I took photographs and videos so that Alistair Hughes, the illustrator, could have excellent reference material when he illustrated the pictures. Going there made me more determined to get the story published and I was thrilled when Upstart said yes. I also interviewed one of the soldier’s sons and he was able to fact check the story for me, as well as send pictures of some of the medals.