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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

Monday, 28 July 2014

Lemnos Hero – Private Peter Rados, the Greek Digger from Asia Minor



 
Peter Rados' enlistment papers. NAA
Australian records reveal that some eighty-three diggers in the First World War had either been born in Greece or were of Hellenic background. Twelve of these sailed to Lemnos and served at Gallipoli in 1915.
One of these diggers would sadly die during the campaign – Private No.170 Peter Rados
A cook by profession and resident in Sydney in 1914, Peter enlisted in A Company of the 3rd Battalion AIF on 18th August 1914. On enlistment, Peter stood 5ft 6 inches tall, with brown eyes and dark hair. They medical officer recorded that he had a scar on his chest. Peter recorded his religion as Greek Orthodox.
Colour patch of Peter Rados' Unit. AWM
Peter’s Unit was among the first infantry units raised, having been formed within a fortnight of the declaration of war. Like the 1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions it was recruited from New South Wales and, together with these battalions, formed the 1st Brigade. The Unit Diary records the Battalion as being formed at Randwick on 17th August 1914.
The 3rd Battalion embarked just two months later. He embarked on the HMAT Euripides from Port Macquarie on 19th October 1914. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving at Alexandria on 3rd December.
The Unit then proceeded to the main Anzac camp at Mena, arriving on 5th December. In Egypt, Peter and his Unit were kept busy preparing for their coming engagement, with route marches and training in “musketry”, night fighting and assaults.
Peter Arrives on Lemnos

3rd Battalion troops practice embarkation from the HMTS Derfflinger in Mudros Harbour. AWM
Peter and his unit departed Alexandria on 5th April aboard the HMTS Derfflinger, arriving at Lemnos at 9.30am on 8th April.
Photographs show the 3rd Battalion practicing their embarkation and landing techniques in Mudros Harbour. Amongst all these preparations for the coming landing, they received lectures on “Notes on the Turkish Army”, “Enemy Ruses and Espionage” and “International Law”, as well the cooperation between Artillery and infantry in the attack. 
3rd Battalion troops on Lemnos about to re-embark. AWM
Physical training was also an important part of their training. We see them marching on the shore and even enjoying a swim in the waters of the harbour.
While they practiced embarking from their transport vessel the former German ship, the Derfflinger, the Unit Diary records Peter and his comrades landing at Murdros village a number of times. On the 17th April, 50% of the battalion were allowed to wash their clothes at Mudros village.
3rd Battalion troops enjoy a swim in Mudros Harbour. AWM
To Gallipoli
The battalion departed Lemnos at 6.15am on the 24th April on the 5 hour voyage to their anchorage point prior to leaving for Anzac Cove. They arrived at their anchorage at 10.55pm and departed for Anzac Cove at 12.30am on 25th April. Arriving at 4am, they would be part of the second and third waves. The Battalion was ashore by 8.30am.
Peter thus took part and survived in the landings at Anzac Cove. By the end of the first evening, Peter was one of the 16,000 men that had landed on the beaches. Fortunately, he was not one of the over 2,000 Australians that were killed or wounded on that first day.
Anzac Cove, where Peter landed on the morning of 25th April 1915. Photographed in February 1919. AWM
Peter is killed defending Anzac Cove
Peter survived the landings only to be killed in action on 19th May 1915 at the Peninsula along with so many others. He was only 24 years old.
His Unit diary records the fierce Turkish attack Peter’s Unit sustained on the 19th. Waves of closely packed Turkish infantry attacked the whole defence line at 2.45am. The Battalion had expected an attack and were ready for it, inflicting many casualties on the attacking forces.
However the Australians suffered many casualties as the Turks retreated. The Diggers had emerged from their trenches to fire on the retreating Turks, exposing themselves to the fire of the Turkish defenders in the opposing enemy trenches. The Battalion records that 1 Officer was killed and 2 wounded, with 41 other ranks killed and 49 wounded. Peter Rados was one of those killed.
Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli peninsula, 1915. AWM
He was initially buried in Shrapnel Gully on the Peninsula, the service conducted by the 1st Brigades famous and brave Chaplain William McKenzie, from Bendigo, Victoria. 
Memorial pin celebrating Chaplain William Mackenzie of the 1st AIF Brigade. He was the Chaplain who buried Peter Rados. AWM REL34299
He now lies at grave plot G 21 near Anzac Cove, in Ari Burnu Cemetery. Another 150 of his Australian comrades are also buried here.
Peter Rados' grave, Ari Burnu Cemetery, Anzac Cove. Photo: Jim Claven 2013
Peter Rados – of Athens or Artaky?
But like many Anzac records, the files contain a mystery – where was Peter born?
When he presented as a volunteer at the Randwick Recruitment Centre on 18th August 1914, Peter stated his place of birth as being Athens in Greece. As if to support this, he listed his next of kin as Peter Rados, resident of 28 Arcades Avenue Athens.
Yet his Service Record File reveals that this may have been a ruse.
Letter from Mr Jack Zervos, of Sydney's Panellilion Club. NAA
After his death, the File records mail being returned from this address, with the annotation “whereabouts unknown”.  He left a will leaving all his property to a Mr Jack Zervos, of 37 Park Street Sydney, NSW. This was the address of the Panellilion Club, of which Mr Zervos was the proprietor. In 1916, Mr Zervos was writing to inquire about Peter’s Will.
At the end of the war, Peter’s brother Nick Rados began corresponding with the Australian Army regarding the whereabouts of his brother Peter. He was writing on behalf of Peter’s family. Nick was a resident of Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.
This correspondence reveals the secret to Peter’s origins.
For while it is not totally clear, it is more than likely that Peter had been born in Asia Minor, probably in the village of Artaky, on the coast of the Sea of Marmara.
The Rados’ of Asia Minor
On 29th January 1919, Nick wrote that Peter had used the address of his parents on his enlistment.  His actual place of birth – and “where his people were from” – was in Asia Minor, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Nick wrote that Peter feared that to list his real place of birth may have affected his enlistment, as he had been a “Turkish subject”.
One of Nick Rados' letters to the Australian Military authorities. NAA
Yet even the supposed address of his parents is suspect. For Nick writes in the same letter that the last place his parents were heard from as living was in Smyrna. From Smyrna his parents had appealed through the American “Ambassador” (consul) for news of their son’s fate, “28 months before”.  Nick records that as Peter’s parents had not been heard of since, then Nick was the next of kin.
In May 1919 Nick wrote again to the Australian military authorities. He wrote that Peter had four surviving sisters living in Artaky, now known as Erdek and part of the what would become Turkey, but then under Allied military supervision since the end of the First World War.
Erdek, formerly Artaky, on the Sea of Marmara coast.
The shore of Propontis (Marmara Sea), showing Artace and the Gallipoli peninsula.

Erdek lies on the southern coast of the sea of Marmara, not many miles from where Peter was killed at Gallipoli.
His sisters were Mareka aged 15, Antho aged 13,  Smaro  aged 11 and Georgia aged 10. As Nick wrote:
 “they were in a very poor condition as they have lost all during the war. Their father and mother died two years ago through the hardship of the war. Strato Largina is acting as their guardian he living in the same town as they do.”
The peoples of the Aegean coastal region had suffered particularly during the First World War. If they were not evacuated as potential fifth columnists, they would have suffered the privations of being part of the war zone. Allied submarines would have been visible from Erdek – the famous E11 British submarine voyaging nearby on a number of occasions.
Smyrna, the last location of Peter Rados' parents.
Nick requested that the Australian authorities do what they can to ensure that Peter’s effects and property was awarded to his sisters who were in dire need in Asia Minor – “as an act of charity”.
In June 1919, The Australian Army acted writing to Mr Jack Zervos in Sydney asking him to consider this request.
We don’t know what was the response of Mr Zervos to these pleas for help - or the fate of Peter’s  young sisters in far off Asia Minor.
What we do know is that they were soon to face the horrors of the war in Asia Minor and the subsequent catastrophe for the Christian community there. One can only hope that they made their way to safety in Greece or beyond.
An Asia Minor Greek Returns
Given his roots lay in Asia Minor, it is interesting to speculate what would have gone through young Peter’s mind as he looked on Lemnos – only recently liberated from Ottoman rule itself. He would no doubt have felt an affinity with its people and their lives.
 
Lemnians celebrate their liberation and union with Greece in 1912.
I wonder whether he meet up with Pavlos Gyparis and his two battalions of Greek volunteers, one of Greeks from Asia Minor - like Peter! - who volunteered to help the Allied cause at Gallipoli
And his landing at Gallipoli would have been somewhat of a homecoming, walking again on the soil of Asia Minor, not too far from the place of his birth and where his family resided.
His death and burial on the Gallipoli shore was an unfortunate homecoming for this son of Asia Minor. But in a way, given his roots in nearby Erdek, his grave at Ari Burnu is strangely appropriate.
In 1920, the Australian Army sent Nick Rados his brothers war medals – the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal:
“as one of the mementos of the gallant service rendered by the late No. 170 Private P. Rados”

Vale Peter Rados. Lest we forget.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

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