New Zealand’s and perhaps the world’s last surviving soldier of Second World War heroic Battle of Crete died at the age of 104.
On Sunday, Cyril Henry Brant Robinson, passed away at the retirement community of Whangamata Moana House, New Zealand.
Robinson was the last New Zealand soldier to have served in the Battle of Crete, according to Paul London, a former leader of the New Zealand Battle of Crete Association, and “in all likelihood, he may well be the world’s last solider to have participated in the battle.”
Last Surviving Soldier’s Astounding Tale of The Battle of Crete
In speaking to The Herald about the Battle of Crete, Brant had revealed that “six hundred and seventy-two Kiwis (New Zealanders) were dead after 12 days of violent, ferocious combat with expert Nazi paratroopers, frequently in close quarters with fixed bayonets. As the Mediterranean island passed into Hitler’s clutches, another 967 people were hurt and more than 2,000 were seized as prisoners of war.’’
The soldiers who battled for the island of Crete in its time of need were never forgotten by the Cretans. Among the men who had fought for Crete was Brant Robinson of New Zealand, who passed away on Sunday. But just what was his role in the battle?
On June 1, 1941, in Souda Bay, Staff Sergeant Robinson was taken prisoner by the advancing Germans after arriving on Crete with the advance detachment to set up camp.
He was imprisoned in a POW camp on Crete for seven weeks before being transported to Nazi Germany, having been forced to march for days without food and minimal water despite Cretan residents trying to hide food in their passing hands.
Brant was detained at Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf, which was built in 1939 to house Polish detainees from Germany’s invasion of Poland in September of that year. Later, he was transferred to Stalag 8B Teschen for three months before being transferred to Stalag 383 Hohenfels.
“The worst part of being held prisoner is not knowing how long the confinement would last.” Robinson said.
Robinson, one of the last surviving soldiers of the battle of Crete, was one of the thousands of men compelled to march west in the early months of 1945 when the Soviet troops swept through Germany. Known variously as The March, The Long March, or the Death March Across Germany, it resulted in hundreds of people starving to death and dying from cold weather-related causes.
Robinson, however, considered himself fortunate and had claimed that “it wasn’t that bad.”
“We only had to march for about three weeks, whereas people who lived further east had to begin during the winter and suffered from frostbite while trekking through the snow,” he had said. “We were quite fortunate to have decent weather, and the Red Cross was able to find us and provide us with food. Thus, things may have been worse.”
Eventually, he was freed by advancing American forces at which time he then set out on his arduous return trip, and despite the hardships he had faced during WWII, he lived to the ripe old age of 104!