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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

Friday, 29 April 2016

30 April-1 May 1941 - Operation Demon ends with evacuations from Kalamata area and Miloi

A few of the lads aboard the HMS Kimberley, 1st May 1941. Syd Grant Collection
On these day's 75 years ago, the last of the major evacuations from the Greek mainland took place.South of Kalamata, 33 soldiers were picked up on the night of the 29-30 May and a further 202 soldiers on the night of 30 April-1st May by HMS Hero, Isis and Kimberley. Among the latter was Horsham's Private Syd Grant of the 2/8th Battalion who had escaped German custody at Kalamata and been hidden by Greek villagers at Trachila south of Kalamata until being evacuated by the HMS Hero.
Meanwhile at Miloi, 700 troops were evacuated by HMS Hotspur and Havock.
And so ended Operation Demon and the effort to evacuate the Allied force in Greece. This has been called "the Second Dunkirk" and was a successful evacuation of the vast majority of Allied forces. Of the 58,000 Allied soldiers landed in Greece in 1941, over 50,000 were evacuated.
The evacuation mobilsed a major naval flotilla, consisting of 6 cruisers, 20 destroyers, 4 escort vessels, 9 troopships (I sunk at sea) and several smaller vessels. Further 5 ships used to ferry troops from Crete to Egypt.
On the negative side, 26 troop ships sunk during the evacuation by German air attacks. 8,000 Allied troops (including Australians, British, Cypriots, Palestinians and Yugoslavs) captured or on the run. Of the Australians, 2,030 were captured out of the 17,500 troops who served on the Greek mainland. Hundreds of Italian POW’s were released.
Yet after this time, Allied soldiers continued to make their way from the mainland to join their units.
Many Allied troops continued to escape from the Greek mainland and the Germans by individual means. Hidden and helped by local Greek villagers, both evaders and escapers, hired or were given passage in Greek fishing boats and other vessels. They made their way across the Aegean - some to Crete, others to the Asia Minor coast of Turkey and others even to Cyprus.

Australian Unit Locations - 30th April-1st May
16th Brigade HQ - Ikingi Maryut then Julius Camp (Palestine)
17th Brigade HQ - Limania then Bay of Messinia
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Retimo
2/2nd Battalion - Ikingi Maryut
2/3rd Battalion - Kantara
2/4th Battalion - Heraklion
2/5th Battalion - Ikingi Maryut then Hill 69 (Palestine)
2/6th Battalion - Limania
2/7th Battalion - Celebes
2/8th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Chania
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

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