About 50 people gathered at Mount Maunganui RSA yesterday to pay tribute to those lost at the Battle of Crete, fought over 12 days in May 1941.

Acting secretary and treasurer of the New Zealand Battle of Crete Association, Colin Henderson, said compared with other WWII campaigns, the one on Crete was short, ended in defeat and had an exceptionally high number of casualties on both sides.

"Our soldiers fought well on Crete despite the overwhelming odds and access to limited resources. Lots of equipment was left behind on mainland Greece because the navy refused to take it to Crete." Veteran Brant Robinson laid a wreath to remember the more than 4000 who were killed. Despite the number lost, a long and close relationship developed between New Zealanders and the people of Crete was formed.