There is a new fascinating development in the case of the family of the Battle of Crete veteran New Zealander Arthur Ernest Wright who were trying to find descendants of the family that hid him from the Nazis.
After the huge publicity this case received, Wright’s grand-daughter Emma Ebrahim managed to locate the descendants of the people who had hid and saved her grandfather.
As Emma says in her post on social media, it was only 48 hours after the appeal was published. She managed to get in touch with Maro and Lila Kalogeri, daughters of Niko, one of the three persons that kept her grandfather alive.
Best of all, 90-year old Nikos is still alive. There may be a meeting between the two families to get to know each other and it will certainly be an overwhelming moment.
Right from the beginning, Emma wanted to meet and talk with the descendants of the three siblings: Irene, Tasos and Nikolas who found and hid her grandfather, a New Zealand soldier who came to Crete, was taken prisoner, escaped, lived in the fields and then hid in the house of this Cretan family until he had to surrender to the Germans.
Arthur was born on 14 October 1916 in Christchurch and started school in Lowcliffe, Canterbury, where his father had a farm. The family then moved to Christchurch.
In 1939 when the war broke out, Arthur and his older brother volunteered for overseas service with the Army and were sent to Burnham Military Camp for training.
On 3 Jan 1940 Arthur and his brother, both members of the 20th Infantry Battalion, boarded the troopship Dunera bound for Egypt. They later sailed to Greece where they took part in the Battle of Greece.
They were chased out of Greece and retreated to Crete where Arthur was taken prisoner.
During his time on Crete, Arthur escaped to get food but it was too dangerous to return. He headed for the hills and lived there for a few months until he was re-captured.
He was on Crete until Christmas 1941 when he was transported by boat to Salonika and cattle truck to Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf, Germany. In January 1945 in freezing conditions, Arthur took part in the long march to Czechoslovakia near Brux which had been bombed prior to their arrival.
In May 1945 they were told the Americans were 30 kms to West. Arthur stayed put waiting for the allies to arrive. The German guards disappeared, but the prisoners were left with no food and were starving, looking for food wherever they could find it.
Arthur was repatriated to England in a Lancaster, by Bomber Command in Operation Exodus and after a month’s leave returned to New Zealand.
Arthur was a POW until 8th May 1945.