A MEMORIAL for soldiers who died in the Battle of Crete has been given to the Royal Marines Museum.
But the four-piece tribute might never have seen the light of day if an eagle-eyed veteran hadn’t spotted it in a Derbyshire foundry.
Manchester and Salford Royal Marines Association member Ken Brotherhood said the memorial had been commissioned in 2008 for a site on private land in Crete and then forgotten about.
He said: ‘There was a long dispute with the farmer in Crete who was going to let us have some land to put it on.
‘By chance I was at the foundry and I saw this beautiful Royal Marines crest put up against the wall. It had been lying around there for five years.’
Mr Brotherhood said he hoped the memorial would still find a permanent home in Crete.
‘We hope it will go to Crete but there’s no site for it in the Suda Bay cemetery there,’ he said. ‘Emotionally it would be better in Crete but for the elderly veterans it would be a hell of a slog for them to get out there and see it.’
The memorial comprises the marines’ crest and three panels listing the names of about 60 soldiers who died in the 1941 battle during the Second World War.
Mr Brotherhood said about 2,000 marines were among 30,000 British and Commonwealth troops who tried to stop the Germans taking the island. The German invasion, codenamed Operation Mercury, was the largest airborne invasion in history up to that point.
Mr Brotherhood said: ‘The Germans invaded by air and they should have been stopped but they gradually took over the island the British were forced to retreat.
‘In the end, although they had very little ammo and food, the marines holed up for three days allowing thousands of others to escape.’
Mr Brotherhood said the Germans took hundreds of marines prisoner and sent them to Eastern Europe where they were forced to work in mines.
But other marines managed to get away, and about 150 of them escaped in a boat to North Africa.