Help us promote Lemnos' link to Anzac - Make a donation now

Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Festive Greetings from the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee!

The Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee wishes all of our supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We have achieved a lot since we began our work in 2011.As we approach the end of 2013 it is important to reflect on some of the things we have achieved together:
  • Officially launched the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Memorial at our successful Parliament House Launch;
  • Produced a working model of the Memorial;
  • Developed our new logo;
  • Launched our Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Badge (and already sold around 300 of them);
  • Successfully forged new relationships with other organisations;
  • Had a number of articles and stories published; and
  • Secured around $75,000 in pledges for the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Memorial.
Thanks for all the work that you have done supporting our cause over the last 12 months and we look forward to working together with you all in the New Year to advance the commemoration and awareness of Lemnos' vital role in Australia's Anzac story in 2015.

Hronia Polla!

 Christmas on Lemnos - 1915
 While we enjoy our Christmas, think back to December in 1915 on Lemnos. The Anzacs had been evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula, after the horrors of the 9 month campaign. Many of their comrades had died or were wounded. They arrived back on the northern Aegean Island from whence they had sailed to Anzac Cove. And they enjoyed their Christmas out of harms way in the Rest Camps at Sarpi. They received special "Christmas Billies" from Australia - decorated with a kangaroo! - and many of the other comforts of the Island. They would soon leave Lemnos for Egypt and the battlefields of Western France and the Middle East.

Six Australian soldiers opening their special Christmas Billes from Australia at their camp at Sarpi, Lemnos, December 1915. AWM P01296.002
Members of C Section, 7th Australian Field Ambulance, unpacking their Christmas billies outside their tent lines at Lemnos Island. Each billy has a kangaroo symbol on the side. Identified, left to right: 3809 Private (Pte) Joseph Henry Williams, Pte W G Lake, 3776 Lance Corporal Crosby Hurburgh. AWM CO2432
Lemnos, Greece. c. 1915-12. Informal outdoors group portrait of members of the 1st Australian Divisional Signal Company opening Christmas billies and reading letters or messages from home soon after the evacuation from Gallipoli. Left to right: 123 Sapper (Spr) Oswald Adelburt (Ossie) Thiele, a despatch rider; Spr ? Ernest Ray (Roy) Yelland; 115 Spr Robert Wilfrid (Bill) Riches; Spr Ernest Wilfred Eccles Burton, accidentally killed 1918-04-04; Dick Ellis; 125 Spr Arthur George Wade, later MM; 118 Spr Arthur Raymond (Ray) McConchie, later MM; 36 Spr John Thomas (Jock) Nicholls. The Christmas billies, some of which the men are holding and some of which are lying on the ground in front of them, bear a kangaroo symbol on their side. Also lying on the ground in front of the men are boxes labelled 'Mutual Store Melbourne'.
A Lemnos sunset. Photograph Jim Claven 2013
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Sunday, 22 December 2013

98th Anniversary of the End of Gallipoli Campaign Ceremony - 20th December 2013

The official ceremony commemorating the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula begins at the Sanctuary within the Shrine. Photo Jim Claven 2013
The President and Secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee - Lee Tarlamis and myself - had the pleasure of attending the second End of Gallipoli Campaign Ceremony held in Sanctuary of Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance on 20th December 2013. Other members of our Committee in attendance were Mr Martin Foley MP and Mr Joe Caputo.
The event was organised by the Melbourne-based Friends of Gallipoli Inc group to mark the 98th anniversary of the end of the Gallipoli campaign. The Chairman of the FOGI is Dr John Basarin, who is a well-known expert on WW1 and the Gallipoli story. Mr Marcus Falay of Fairy Chimney Travel, another member of FOGI, was also present at the commemoration. They are both supporters of the work of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and attended our recent fundraiser.
The Evacuation of Gallipoli
20th of December marks the final evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula after the disastrous land campaign that had begun on the morning of the 25th April in 1915.
Williams' Pier, North Beach, December 1915, with the Sphinx in the background. At this time the preparations for the evacuation of the Australian and New Zealand troops were well under way. AWM C01621
The decision to evacuate Gallipoli was made in November, following the visit to the front by the Allied commander Lord Kitchener. This decision came about due to the failure of the August Offensives to achieve a breakthrough, the effects of disease and cold and the resulting casualties.
Great effort was made to keep the evacuation as secret as possible, out of fear that an Ottoman attack at this time would have resulted in many casualties. The evacuation of the Anzac garrison was undertaken in two stages, with 41,000 soldiers requiring to be evacuated. The final 26,000 left on 19-20th December. The last Australian troops to be evacuated were the men of the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, the most decorated unit in the Australian Navy in WW1.
Many of the troops were evacuated to rest camps on Lemnos, where they recuperated and enjoyed well-earned Christmas festivities with their comrades and the Australian nurses on the Island.
Six Australian soldiers unpack the contents of the special Christmas Billie cans, Lemnos Decemner 1915. AWM P01296

For more information on the evacuation of the Gallipoli, see the Department of Veterans webpage on the evacuation of Anzac by clicking here.
Australian soldiers playing cricket hours before their evacuation from the peninsula in 1915. AWM

The Commemoration
Those in attendance included a number of secondary school students, Dr Basarin addressed those gathered, as did the Hon Ted Baillieu, former Victorian Premier and Chair of Victoria's Centenary Committee, as well as Mr Apak, the Consul-General of the Turkish Republic.

Dr Basarin recounted the words of Turkish soldiers who had watched the Anzacs land in April and now looked on with relief as the the Allied soldiers left the peninsula. Ted's speech was poignant, with many referecnes from the letters and diaries of Anzac's as the completed thier evaucatiuon of the peninsula that they had fought so hard on and on whcih many diggers remained in the graves. Both speakers recounted the respect that the Anzacs and Ottoman soldiers had for each other - the Johnnies and the Mehmet's.

The Hon Ted Baillieu, former Premier and Chair of Victoria's Anzac Centenary Committee address the audience. Second to his left is Mr Apak, the Turkish Consul General, and third to his left is Dr John Basarin. Photo Jim Claven 2013
Dignitaries lay a commemorative wreath at the at the Sanctuary within Shrine. Photo Jim Claven 2013
As keynote of the event was the reading by a young secondary student, Ms Angela Kenna, from Warrnambool of the famous words of Kemal Ataturk from 1934, words carved into the memorials on the Gallipoli peninsula and at the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra:

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

The commemorative event is another reminder of the friendship and peaceful understanding that come to peoples following the horrors of war.

We would like to thank Dr John Basarin and the Friends of Gallipoli for the invitation to attend this important commemoration.

The Friends of Gallipoli
This non-political, non-religious and not-for-profit community organisation promotes friendship and understanding between Australia and Turkey through the shared Gallipoli story. Today, this shared history is the backdrop for mutual understanding. The heritage of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey are forever linked in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign. Popular interest in the campaign has led many young people travel to Gallipoli as a rite of passage. But not all have that opportunity.Friends of Gallipoli initiates learning programs and Youth Tours that give young people the chance to explore their mutual ties to Gallipoli. Australian and Turkish youths explore a shared history and the rich and rewarding bounty of international friendship. For further information on the Friends of Gallipoli, click here.

Jim Claven
Secretary Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Lemnos Anzac Conference Report 2013

The Committee is glad to release the formal Report of our successful Anzac Conference held on Lemnos in July 2013.
Jointly organised by the Lemnos Municipality and the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, the Conference was held at Portianou Cultural Centre in the historic village of Portianou, on the western shores of Mudros Bay. Nearby to the Australian and New Zealand Rest Camps at Sarpi and the Australian Hospitals on the Turks Head Peninsula - as well as the resting place of many Anzacs in Portianou Cemetery - this was a fitting location for the first Anzac Conference on Lemnos.
The Conference theme was Lemnos and the Centenary of Anzac 2015 - Our Shared History. The Conference attracted speakers and participants from Australia, throughout Greece, Turkey and many local Lemnians.
Opened with speeches by our President Lee Tarlamis, MP, the Mayor of Lemnos, Mr Chatzidiamantis, and the Vice Admiral Theodosiou of the Hellenic Navy - amongst other addresses and welcomes, the centrepiece of the Conference was a number of academic addresses made by historians who travelled to Lemnos and the Conference for this purpose. Apart from myself, these were Dr John Yiannakis and Ms Sibel Baykut. These speeches are reproduced in full, along with the images displayed as part of each presentation.
Other key speakers included Committee founder the Hon John Pandazopoulos MP and Mr Stelios Mantzaris of Varos Village Hotel, a strong supporter of our Lemnos Gallipoli project.
The official Conference Report contains the background to the Conference, all major addresses and reports on the decisions and outcomes of the Conference. The latter included:
  • the formation of the Lemnos Friends of Anzac
  • the development or enhancement of Lemnos' Anzac trail
  • the aim of enhancing access to a number of Lemnos' anzac sites
  • a commitment to create a photographic display on the Island to the Lemnos Gallipoli link
  • that the Lemnos Anzac Conference be a regular event on the Island; and,
  • linking schools and the education communities on the Island and in Australia to research, publicize and promote understanding of this important cultural and historical link between Greece and Australia.
The Conference concluded with a full day historical commemorative tour of Lemnos' Anzac and other key historic sites led by myself.

A copy of the official Lemnos Anzac Conference Report 2013 can be viewed by clicking here.
The Committee thanks all who took the time to attend and participate in the Conference - and especially the Municipality of Lemnos for is active support and generous welcome to their beautiful northern Aegean Island.

In particular we would thank Mr Demetri Boulotis, Deputy Mayor of Lemnos for his support and generosity. He has been a strong supporter and promoter of Lemnos' link with Anzac. We thank him for all his efforts in working with us and look forward to working with him in the future to make our projects and plans a reality for the benefit of Lemnos, its people and Australia.
We hope that all interested in Lemnos and its link to Australia, Anzac and Gallipoli, will enjoy reading the report of the Conference.

Jim Claven
Secretary, Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Lemnos Community Xmas Function

Darcy Provatas, Lee Tarlamis and Sam Tarlamis from our Committee enjoying the Lemnos Community of Victoria Xmas function.
It was a pleasure for members of the Committee to attend the 2013 Xmas function of the Lemnian Community of Victoria on 21st December at the Lemnian Community Centre at Braeside.
The night was well attended, and enjoyed good food, beverage, music and excellent company.
The Lemnian Community of Victoria have been actively involved in the work of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee since its inception. The President of the Community, Ms Malama Varvara, is also a member of the Lemnos Gallipoli Committee.
Thanks to the Lemnian Community for a great night and for your on-going support.
Jim Claven
Secretary, Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Dr John Yiannakis in Melbourne

Dr John Yiannakis at the Foote Street Albert Park proposed site of our new Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial. Albert Park Secondary College on the left.
Recently the Committee was honoured to be visited by Dr John Yiannakis. Dr Yiannakis is a WA academic and member of the Committee. He has made numerous presentations on the link between Lemnos and Gallipoli, including at our recent Anzac Conference on Lemnos in July 2013.
While in Melbourne, Dr Yiannakis was able to have a meeting with our President, Lee Tarlamis, MP, myself as Secretary and the Hon John Pandazopoulos MP. He was able to inform us of developments concerning the new proposed Anzac Interpretive Centre at Albany in Western Australia. He has held discussions with the museum director, emphasising the need to include the Lemnos story in the proposed museum displays. Information on the proposed Albany Centenary events are contained are the following link.
He has also been working on an article on Lemnos and Gallipoli proposed to be published next year.
While in Melbourne, I took Dr Yiannakis on a tour of the proposed site for our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial at Foote Street Albert Park.
Jim Claven
Secretary Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Lee Tarlamis - Thank You

Lee Tarlamis addresses our successful Parliament House launch, 2013
As a member of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee who has attended meetings and the Conference on Lemnos in July this year, I have witnessed firsthand the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm that our President Mr Lee Tarlamis MP has shown during this time. 
He has worked hard attending and speaking at various functions, organising the launch at Parliament House, arranging printing of publications, producing the badges and many more behind the scenes activities. 
I am sure that I can speak on behalf of all the members of our Committee and express our thanks and gratitude to him for all the time and expertise that he has contributed to our cause.
Lee, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you have done to promote the “Lemnos Story”.

Christina Despoteris
Lee Tarlamis MP and Senator Ann McEwen lay our wreath at the Anzac service at Portianou Military Cemetery in April 2013

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Successful Meeting with Alphington Grammar

Committee member Christina Despoteris, Secretary Jim Claven, Principal Dr Vivianne Nikou and President Lee Tarlamis MP
Today members of the Committee had the great pleasure to meet with and make a presentation to the Principal of Melbourne's Alphington Grammar School, Dr Vivianne Nikou.
We took the opportunity to explain the work of our Committee, the link between Lemnos and Gallipoli and the coming Centenary of Anzac in 2015. We explained our various projects and activities, on Lemnos and in Australia, including our proposed memorial commemorative sculpture. We took the opportunity to present Dr Nikou with copies of our various documents and media stories recounting the the Lemnos Gallipoli story.
One of the important proposals raised was the possibility of involving school students in raising awareness of the Lemnos link to Australia's Anzac story, including linking school students on Lemnos and in Victoria. We explained how some of the secondary schools on Lemnos have already started researching the story and are interested in linking with students in Australia.
As part of existing Anzac-related studies, students could use the opportunity to focus on retelling the Lemnos story, for example through the stories of the Anzacs buried on the Island, those who spent time on the Island preparing for Gallipoli, resting or recuperating, those nurses who served on the Island in 1915 and the Lemnians who meet these visitors from so far away. We discussed the range of resources that are readily available to students. Re-counting the story in words, in music or in art are all possibilities.
We also mentioned the additional Anzac links in Greece, in Thessaloniki in WW1 and throughout the rest of Greece in WW2.
Dr Nikou expressed interest in our Committee's proposals and we agreed to meet again to discuss them further.
You can read the School Newsletter reporting on our meeting here.
Thanks to Dr Nikou for meeting with us and to Christina Despoteris for organising this important meeting.

Alphington Grammar
Alphington Grammar is an independent, co-educational secondary school situated on 3 hectares of attractive parkland abutting Darebin Creek, just 7 kilometres from Melbourne's CBD, and has been designed from its inception to be academically strong, non-denominational and to embrace teaching excellence and cultural diversity.It was established by the Greek Orthodox Community in 1989 and was designed to reflect the cultural diversity of Melbourne and is non-denominational with students from 30 ethnic and religious backgrounds. For more information on Alphington Grammar click here.

Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee - 2013 Dinner

Lee Tarlamis MP, our President, addresses the meeting

On Monday night the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee celebrated the end of a successful year.
Our normal meeting was held at the John Rerakis' wonderful restaurant Philhellene. The Committee enjoyed a beautiful meal and the warmth of John's cretan hospitality.
Our President Lee Tarlamis, MP, addressed our meeting outling our achievements for the year. Some of our highlights include:
  • Successfully completed our second tour of Lemnos (Greece and Gallipoli) in April-May, led by Secretary and historian, Jim Claven; 
  • Organised a meeting between the heads of the Hellenic and Royal Australian Navy's on Lemnos that has resulted in a commitment from the Australian Navy that the 2015 RAN ship visit to Gallipoli will also include a visit to Suda Bay (Crete) and Lemnos.
  • Successfully organised the first Anzac Conference on Lemnos, in conjunction with the Municipality of Lemnos, the report of which will be published soon;
  • Our sculptor Peter Corlett OAM has completed his design for our commemorative sculpture; 
  • Staffing Lemnos Gallipoli information stalls at the 2013 Antipodes Festival (February) and the Thessaloniki Glendi Festival (November);
  • Presentations to the Shepparton RSL and the Greek community of Lemnos, Shepparton;
  • Proposed linkages between schools and students on Lemnos and in Victoria, including Lemnos Primary School (Shepparton), Alphington Grammar and other schools;
  • Publication of numerous media articles promoting the link between Lemnos and Gallipoli and our activities;
  • Established and maintained our weblog and Facebook presence, with over 60 news posts to date, achieving nearly 8,000 weblog page views since between created in April;
  • The commitment of Port Phillip City Council to support the location of the memorial in their municipality;
  • Fundraising presentations with documentation have been made to a number of organisations and individuals (including the Lemnian community in Victoria, commemorative funds, nurses organisations and government at various levels);
  • The launch of our memorial fundraising effort at Parliament House in Melbourne, on the anniversary of the Armistice of Mudros on 28th October 2013; and
  • The launch of our fundraising commemorative badge.
Our commemorative badge - a steal at $5!
Lee pointed out that as a result of our efforts we have recieved pledges and funds totallying approximately $70,000. Much needs to be done to reach our $240,000 target but we are well on our way.
Lee also pointed out that we have submitted our applications under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program as well as making formal approaches for funding to the State and Federal Governments.

Lee addresses the meeting

Another highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the bronze maquette of our proposed memorial sculpture. Peter Corlett has produced this magnificent bronze model. They have been treated to reflect the bronze's of Classical Greece and sits upon a stone pedestal.
The bronze model of our commemorative memorial sculpture created by Peter Corlett, OAM
John Rerakis informed our meeting of his work with the Pan Cretan Association to have erected a memorial plaque in honour of the Battle of 42nd Street, near Chania, Crete. He told of the brave Anzacs, led by Reg Saunders, and their Maori comrades, in this battlefield success in the defence of Crete in 1941.
The meeting ended with our resolve to re-double our fundraising efforts in the new year.
A great night was had by all, thanks to all who attended and to John Rerakis for his hospitality.
Committee member Terry Kanelos, Lee Tarlamis and our host John Rerakis.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Across the Sea to War - Australia and NZ Troop Convoys from 1865 - Book Review

This book contains invaluable information on the various troopships that departed Australian and New Zealand in the First World War.
It tells of the ships traveling in convoys in the first year of the conflict due to the presence of German naval forces in the seas. After the defeat of the German naval forces, convoys were dispensed with. The book restores the role of these troopships and convoys in the history of the First World War. 
It tells the story of the ships, there conversion to troopships from liners, and relates the experience of the soldiers and nurses who travelled on them to war.
Ships like the Euripides, Ulysses and Themistocles. It tells of their voyages around Australia, across the Indian Ocean, to Colombo, India, the Suez Canal and to Egypt. From there they went on to Gallipoli - via Lemnos - and subsequently to Thessaloniki and Western France.

The majority of the book also contains in-depth coverage of the troop convoys of the Second World War.

This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the story of how the Anzacs travelled to war.
Sadly, the one deficiency of the book is that it fails to record the presence of the troopships in the great harbour of Mudros, Lemnos. This needs to be rectified.
If you would like to purchase this book click here

1st Division AIF reinforcements play cricket aboard the HMAT Themistocles (A32), part of the 2nd Australian convoy to that left Australia on 31 December 1914. Jan 1915. AWM C01927

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lemnos Gallipoli Committee at Melbourne's Glendi Festival

The Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee recently held a stall at Melbourne-Thessaloniki Glendi festival in Federation Square in central Melbourne. The festival marks the 29th anniversary of the Sister-City relationship between Melbourne and Thessaloniki.
The Committee took the opportunity to tell our story and promote the need to commemorate Greece's link to Anzac. We erected our photographic display that was viewed by many visitors to the Festival.
We also had information regarding Thessaloniki's role in the Anzac story - It is often forgotten that over 450 Australian nurses and soldiers fought in the Salonika campaign in WW1, including famous Australian author and orderly Miles Franklin, Matron Jessie McHardie White from Healesville and Melbourne University trained Doctor Mary de Garis. Lieutenant Ned Herring served on this front - and would return here to defend Greece in 1941. 
Committee Member the Hon John Pandazopoulos MP organised the stall and wrote a letter of congratulation to the Festival organisers that is repropduced below for your information:
Many people visited the stall, many leaflets were distributed, new members recruited and our Memorial badges sold.
Thanks to John Pandazopoulos MP, Lee Tarlamis MP, Jim Claven and Ken Volaris for supporting the stall.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Lemnos Memorial Lapel Badge - Buy One Now!

The Committee has just received its new Memorial Lapel Badge.
These new badges have been specifically designed as one of our main fundraising vehicles. The design incorporates the image of Matron Grace Wilson, of the 3rd Australian General Hospital, and the Australian and Greek flags. They are mounted on an attractive descriptive card.
They are for sale for a modest $5 - and of course we welcome additional donations for the badges!
Proceeds from the sale of the badges will go to funding the establishment of the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial and associated commemorative promotional material.
If you would like to purchase a badge or a group of them to give to your friends, please contact either Lee Tarlamis on 0411553009 (or email or Jim Claven on 0409402388. You can purchase a badge direct by visiting Lee Tarlamis' office at 157a Sladen Street, Cranbourne.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Lemnos Looks Back - A History of Lemnos in Victoria

This beautiful liitle booklet was prepared in 1987 by local historian Ms Elsie Brady.
It is full of lots of historical information not recorded anywhere else. It tells the story of the Lemnos Primary School, as well as of the Lemnos township, recounting the working and social life of the town and its people.
It recounts the establishment of the township as a Soldier Settlement in 1919-20. It tells of the first settlers, amongst them many Anzacs who had served at Gallipoli and of the famous Ernie Hill, who had proposed the name of the new settlement as Lemnos.
It contains many reminiscences of the settlers, of the hard times at the beginning as the farms were being established by the ex-soldiers in their spare time - as they had to work in neighboring farms to feed themselves and their families.
It also tells of the various migrant families who arrived in the district - from the 1930's but mostly after the war - and how's children were educated in the local Primary School. Some of the Hellenic background families included the Damianopoulos, Giankos, Kalafatis, Michalaidis, Alabakis, Kiriacos, Pateros, Papoulis, Christou families - as well as other migrant families whose children attended the school.
The booklet records the achievements of the Lemnos Football Club and other sporting clubs established in the township.
This booklet serves to remind us all of the link between Lemnos, Gallipoli and Anzac - and Australia. It provides evidence of the strong impression Lemnos left with those visiting diggers in 1915 and of the many Hellenic migrant families who settled in this little corner of Victoria, called Lemnos.
Thanks to Barrie Hill (Ernie Hill's son) for alerting me to this great publication and to Ms Jenny Kop of Lemnos Primary School for providing this amazing booklet.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Lemnos Heroes - Sandringham's Able Seaman Thomas Chitts and Bendigo's Stoker John Godier

Australian Cruiser HMAS Brisbane, the only cruiser constructed in Australia, December 1916. AWM image P01886.001
Amongst the last soldiers, airmen and sailors to be buried on Lemnos were these two Australian sailors, Able Seaman Thomas James Chitts and Stoker 2nd Class John Francis Godier.
These young sailors were only in their twenties when the died on Lemnos. This is their story.
Thomas was born in Sandringham, the son of George and Margaret Chitts. He had joined the Royal Australian Navy on 14th August 1912 and served on various ships throughout his service. He served on HMAS Yarra which would go on to serve in the Adriatic, operating out of Corfu and Brindisi, and would be part of the Allied forces who entered Constantinople in 1919.
HMAS Sydney leaves the Australian troopship comvoy to search for the German Raider SMS Emden, off WA coast, November 1914. AWM image H02014
He also served on the Australian Light Cruiser the HMAS Sydney from July 1914 until March 1916. During his service he saw action against the German Raider SMS Emden - which Thomas and the crew of the Sydney successfully destroyed in the Battle of Cocos in 9 November 1914. This was a major naval engagement, the HMAS Sydney being hit by the SMS Emden's long range guns, killing four and wounding twelve of Thomas' fellow sailors. After continuing with its convoy protection work, Thomas and the HMAS Sydney saw service in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
The Ship's Band of the HMAS Brisbane performing on its deck. AWM image A00103.
Thomas began his service on the HMAS Brisbane on 1st October 1918. This was one of the first cruiser class vessels constructed in Australia at Cockatoo, Sydney. After service in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, HMAS Brisbane departed Australia at Fremantle for England on 30th October 1918 - the day the Armistice of Mudros was signed ending the war with the Ottoman Empire. She proceeded to Lemnos, arriving on 26th November 1918 and spent a month with the Australian Destroyer Flotilla in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara, Constantinople and the Black Sea before completing her voyage at Portsmouth in January 1919. Photographs held in the Australian War Memorial (reproduced below) show the HMAS Brisbane arriving at Smyrne on the Asia Minor coast to enforce the terms of the Armistice.
Grave of Thomas Chitts, East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos. Photograph Jim Claven 2013.
It was during her service in the waters surrounding Lemnos, that Able Seaman Chitts succumbed to pneumonia and died on 2 December 1918. He is buried at East Mudros Military Cemetery on Lemnos, at Plot 4, Row A, Grave 3.
Stoker 2nd Class John Godier was another HMAS Brisbane sailor who died and is buried on Lemnos. John was born in Neilborough, near Bendigo in 1898. When he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 20th May 1918, his parents were resident in Yarraville. His service records states that he was able an of "very good' character".
He transferred to the HMAS Brisbane on 27th August 1918 and would serve on her until his death in December. Like Able Seaman Chitts, John died of pneumonia and was buried in East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos - in Plot 4, Row A, Grave 4.

Grave of John Godier, East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos. Photograph Jim Claven 2013

Both these Australian sailors were buried on Lemnos only a few weeks after the official armistice had been signed ending the war between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire – an armistice that had been signed aboard HMAS Agamemnon in that same very harbour. It would be hoped that Thomas and John were aware that the war was now over – even though he would not survive to enjoy the peace.

Lest we forget.

HMAS Brisbane enters Smyrne harbour. 13 December 1918. AWM image EN0144
Residents of Smyrne on the Asia Minor coast looking out to the harbour to welcome the HMAS Brisbane. 13 December 1918. AWM image EN0147