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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

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Canadian link to Lemnos - Lest We Forget

Picnic to Therma on Lemnos, 23rd January 1916. Archive of Canadian Nurse Helen Fowlds
Along with Australia and New Zealand's strong links to Lemnos and its role in the Gallipoli campaign, many other nations also share this link.

One of those is Canada. 70 nurses served on Lemnos with the 1st and 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospitals from August 1915 to early 1916, serving nearby and alongside Australia's 130 nurses at West Mudros. They endured the same difficult sanitary and environmental conditions, as they worked to provide vital medical care in the tented hospitals on the sometimes hot, wind-swept and raining Turks Head peninsula.

And like their Australian nurse colleagues, they travelled the Island and inter-acted with the locals during their brief periods of leave, visiting churches, enjoying the fresh food and a hot mineral bath. The picture above shows some Canadian nurses on their way to Therma and its historic baths, which still operate today.

However the poor conditions experienced by the nurses at the hospitals led many of the nurses to become ill with dysentery and the other illnesses that plagued their patients from the peninsula. Fortunately, no Australian nurses died. But for the Canadians there was great sadness when two of their nurses - Matron Jaggard and Nursing Sister Munro of the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospitals - succumbed to dysentery in September 1915.

Their deaths and burials were mourned not only by their Canadian colleagues, but by the Australian nurses and moved Vera Brittain, the famous British VAD nurse to write her poem - The Sisters Buried at Lemnos:

Both these nurses lie in Lemnos' Portianos Military Cemetery. It is fitting that they are commemorated, every Anzac Day, on the Island by the Greek Red Cross. Lest we forget.

As we approach the Centenary of Anzac in 2015, it is important that these historic links are remembered and commemorated.
Representatives of the Greek Red Cross lay flowers at the graves of the two Canadian nurses, Portianos Military Cemetery, Lemnos, April 2013. Photograph Jim Claven
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee


  1. As the Canadian Ambassador to Greece I am committed to working with Australians and Canadians alike to mark the contribution and sacrifice of these unsung heroes. Robert Peck, Ambassador of Canada, Athens

    1. Dear Ambassador,
      Thank you for your comment. I apologise for my lateness in replying.
      When I attended the official Gallipoli services in 2013, I met the Canadian military representative at those services at the Gallipoli peninsula. He mentioned that there is a proposal to build a Canadian statue at Gallipoli. I suggested to him that it might be good to have a statue erected to the Canadian nurses who served on Lemnos. There are lots of great locations on the Turks Head peninsula where there hospital was located. I'd be happy to talk further about this with you.
      By the way, the memorial service on Lemnos this year will take place in early April, I think the 7th. The Australian ambassador will be present. It would be great if you could also attend.
      Jim Claven, Secretary Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

  2. Hello: many thanks for your message. I will attend the ceremonies on Lemnos this year. I have also spoken to our Minister of Veterans Affairs about the idea of a tribute to nursing sisters. May I have an email address for you at your earliest convenience. Many thanks. Robert Peck, Ambassador

  3. Dear Mr. Claven: I did indeed attend the ceremonies on Lemnos with the ambassadors of Australia and NZ. If you Google the Canadian Embassy in Athens Facebook you will see photos and my remarks. You are mentioned. We will forge ahead with a monument to the nursing sisters on Lemnos. The Mayor is on side and we already have a location. Now we just have to find the funds. On my way.... Robert Peck, Ambassador of Canada