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

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Lemnos Hero - Mildura's Lance Corporal Thomas Hurtle Thomas

Service Record of LC Thomas H Thomas. NAA
Peterborough-born 20 year old Thomas Hurtle Thomas was a horticulturalist living in Mildura when he enlisted at Melbourne on 19th August 1914.
Thomas Family Photo c1910s, possibly taken at Mildura before Aug 1914. Thomas standing second from right. Source: web
He eventually was enlisted into B Company, 8th Battalion. When he enlisted he recorded his 5 and half years previous military training with the militia and cadets, listed as with the “73rd Infantry”. He was the only son of Mr and Mrs Thomas H Thomas of 14 Walnut Street Mildura.
Thomas and the 8th Battalion embarking on to the HMAT Benalla, Princes Pier, Melbourne, 19th October 1914. AWM
He sailed from Australia aboard the HMAT Benalla on 19th October 1914. After training in Egypt, Thomas and the Battalion sailed from Alexandria for Lemnos on 8th April 1915, arriving 3 days later.
The Unit Diary records that, like most other diggers at Lemnos in the period before the Anzac landings, Thomas and the Battalion practised disembarkation in Mudros Bay.
Landing at Anzac on 25th April as part of the second wave, Thomas would have taken part in the battle of Krithia, the defence of the ANZAC beachhead and the offensive around Lone Pine in August. Surviving the deadly August Offensive, Thomas was promoted in the field to Lance Corporal on 13th August 1915.
The Battalion Unit Diary records that prior to the launch of the August Offensive, Thomas’ Battalion was defending a stretch of trench from Courtney’s Post to Scott’s, with one yard of trench per man. It records on 4 August that of those who had left Broadmeadows in October 1914 only 484 (12 officers and 472 other ranks) remained with the battalion. These accounted for only half of the Battalions strength of 916 (22 officers and 894 other ranks).
A view of Turkish front line trenches, marked by timber and barbed wire entanglements, seen from trenches situated directly opposite at Courtney's Post. AWM
The attack on Lone Pine commenced on 6th August, with the 8th Battalion defences sustaining “terrific” enemy shell-fire on the 7th – 300 shells day and night - resulting in 18 killed (including Lieutenant Glasson “an excellent officer”) and 53 wounded. Over the following days the unit was subject to rifle and shell fire, including at night.
By the 15th August the Battalion’s front experienced a lull in the shelling. While the Battalion defended its position, the Unit Diary records the ever-present prevalence of illness, it recording on 16th August that 419 men were ill with diarrhoea and a further 118 sick with “Barcoo” rot. This totals over half of the Battalions complement. Men are regularly recorded as being removed from the line and being sent to hospital.
Barely nine days after Thomas’ promotion on 22nd August and during this “fairly quiet” period at Courtney’s Post as the Unit Dairy records it, Thomas was wounded when a mortar bomb exploded by accident. The 8th Battalion Unit Diary records for the 22nd August 1915:
“Fairly quiet. Lt Grainger and 1 NCO badly injured by trench mortar accident. Lt Grainger died during day. 20 men to hospital. Men looking worn out.”
Two diggers who witnessed the explosion described the accident:
“Thomas was in a trench at Courtney’s Post. Lieutenant Grainger came along and asked how a trench mortar near them was worked. They loaded it and by mistake opened the bottom chamber. The bomb fell out and burst. Both men were badly knocked about, Thomas was wounded in the leg, abdomen and arms. He was taken sown to a Clearing Station and sent to a Hospital Ship. Witness saw the accident from a sap nar by. Thomas was so bad that some of his property was taken in the belief that he would die. It is now in the property chest of D Coy, 8th Battalion.” Sergeant J.D. Mcintosh, D Company, 8th Battalion, Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt, 22 March 1916
“Both witnesses (Private 1411 T.R. Tyrer and Private 1873 C Powell, D Company 8th Battalion) knew L/C Thomas. He was in D Company. He was so badly wounded in the leg at Courtney’s Post in August. It was soon after the Suvla Bay operations. Lieut Grainger and Thomas were using some bombs when one exploded and wounded them both. Thomas was taken away. Both witnesses were there and actually saw the occurrence.” J.L.K., O/S Base, Gize, Cairo, 25 March 1916.
Hosptial Ship Gloucestor Castle, Lemnos, where Thomas died . Photo Trooper Lovett. AWM
He was transported from Gallipoli aboard the Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle. Thomas passed away on the ship as it sat in Mudros Harbour on 23rd August 1915. He was an only son.
His service file contains evidence that family members and friends wrote anxiously seeking confirmation of reports of his death, including a friend from 407 Skipton Street, Ballarat.
After his death Thomas’ family sought his personal effects, which he had communicated to his family had include “snapshots”. They also unsuccessfully sought the name of the Chaplain of the Gloucester Castle.
He is buried in Plot 2, Row H, Grave 128 at East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos, Greece. He was awarded the British war Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.
The grave stone of L/C Thomas H Thomas, East Mudros War Cemetery. Photo Jim Claven 2015.
Lest we forget.
For Andrea O'Connor, a descendant of Thomas Hurtle Thomas.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition - Eltham Library in August 2016

Our Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition will next be exhibition at Eltham Library and Eltham Library Community Gallery in August later this year. This follows on from our recent display at Alphington Grammar and will complement our commemorative service at the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial planned for August.
We have been invited by the City of Whittlesea to exhibit our photographic display and have just finalized arrangements.
The exhibition will run from Thursday 4th august until Monday 29th August. The exhibition will be part of a WW1 exhibition including exhibits from the State Library of Victoria, called "Writing and the War". This consists of banners, a TV unit and display cases. There will also be memorabilia from local community groups on display. The Eltham Library is located at Panther Place, Eltham.
For more information on the State Library exhibition component, please click here.
A program of speakers is scheduled to accompany the exhibition.
I have accepted an invitation to speak as part of this program. I will be making a presentation on The Anzacs at Lemnos.The presentation will take place at 7pm, Tuesday16th August 2016.
Thanks to Cr Mary Lalios for seeking out participation in this great program at Eltham and to providing our Committee with another opportunity to spread awareness of the Lemnos link to Anzac.
Any members of the Committee able to assist with this display event, please contact either myself or Lee Tarlamis.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Saturday, 14 May 2016

15 May 1941 - Suda Bay blockaded by German Luftwaffe

The results of German bombing, Suda Bay, Crete, 1941.
On this day 75 years ago, the German Luftwaffe commenced its aerial blockade of Suda Bay, Crete's main Allied port and harbour. This resulted in only 3,000 of 27,000 tons of Allied supplies successfully being landed at Suda from Egypt.
This was the precursor to the coming invasion of Crete. Adolf Hitler had issued the War Directive - Operation Merkur or Mercury - on 25th April 1941 to commence planning for the invasion.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

Lemnos Commemorations 2016 - Dimitris Boulotis Reports on behalf of the Gallipoli Association (UK)

This year's commemorative events on Lemnos include representation by the Gallipoli Association, the UK-based commemorative organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the Gallipoli campaign. This was the first time that this large commemorative association has ever been represented formally on Lemnos. They were unable to send a representative from London and sought my advice (as a member of the Association) as to who might represent them. As a result they were formally represented by former Lemnos Municipality Deputy Mayor, Mr Dimitris Boulotis. We hope that they will be represented in person in coming years.
Thanks to Dimitris for providing the following report and images on the events on Lemnos in April this year.

"The main event took place at East Moudros Military Cemetery at 17:30 of April 21, 2016.
There were an honorary platoon from the Greek Army (below).

Present were (according to the Greek protocol) representative of the Government, representative of the Regional Government of North Aegean, the Military Commander of Limnos, representatives of Australia, France and New Zealand, representative of the Australian Armed Forces, the Mayor of Lemnos, representatives of Associations of Veterans, local associations (some with traditional costumes) and many people.
The event started with a Memorial Service by Orthodox priests (below).

Then we laid wreaths in protocol order (below 1) and the representative of the Hellenic Government (below 2) , the representative of the North Aegean Region (below 3), the Mayor of Lemnos (below 4), the Consul of New Zealand and the chairman of the local branch of Red Cross, adressed a short speech.

Keynote speaker was Major General Mr. Kamnis, vice-President of Athens War Museum (below).
Finally, children's choirs sang "Imagine" by John Lennon and a Greek folk song for those who left away from their homeland (below).
The event ended with the national anthems of the countries represented and a solo from Army Trumpeter.
After the event the representative of the North Aegean Region hosted a small reception at Moudros Harbour, where he gave memorabilia to those who took part in the event.
Upon receiving the gift (below) I expressed the wish that I will not have to represent again the Gallipoli Association (UK) and that the following year you will be here and to lay the wreath yourself.

Thank you for your trust to me
yours sincerely
Dimitris Boulotis"

Other Photos from the events provided by Mr Boulotis are reproduced below:
Arrival of the Brigadier General, Army Commander of Lemnos.
Arrival of the representatives of North Aegean Region and the of the Hellenic Goverment
First row, left to right: Representatives of France, Australia, Australian Armed Forces, New Zealand, Mayor of Lemnos, rep. of North Aegean Region, from the Office of the Prime Minister, from The Hellenic Government, the vice-President of Athens War Museum, the Army Commander of Lemnos with his Chief of Staff (behind them with white hat, the Navy Commander of Lemnos), the Air Force Commander of Lemnos, Priests)
Local cultural associations with traditional costumes


Mr Boulotis laying the Gallipoli Association wreath
The men's traditional costume

Local Branch of Red Cross, laying wreath


Views of the Cemetery
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Friday, 13 May 2016

14 May 1941 - Crete News appears

Corporal Henry Moran with his copy of the Crete News. Ballarat. Photo Moran Family
On this day in 1941 the first edition of the legendary Crete News appeared.
The Crete News was produced by the Allied forces on Crete as a news and information broadsheet for all Allied troops defending the Island. This single sheet, double sided newspaper would be the main source of news for the troops.
The Allied commander, the New Zealander General Freyberg, had ordered its production also as a counter defeatist rumours. It was often easier for troops and civilians to listen to German propaganda radio reports than to access the BBC.
On 7 May 1941, he appointed New Zealand Lieutenant G. S Cox - a former foreign correspondent who had worked on London dailies - to produce the paper. As the New Zealand official history records, Freyberg wanted the paper to be "as close as possible in format and content to the newspapers with which the troops were familiar in peacetime and which they associated with facts and respect for facts."
To produce the paper Cox assembled his journalist and printing crew - one Greek journalist (George Zamaryas from Chania), paper was obtained wih the support of Greek Crown Prince Peter, a Greek compositor called Alexei, two New Zealand soldiiers who had been jouralists before the war (Privates Barry Michael and A Membry), another New Zeland soldier who had been a compisotir and printer (Private Alec Taylor) and the proprietor of Chania's evening paper allowed them to use his printing press, paper and compositors. An English teacher from Chios - a Mr Graham - was brought in to teach the Kiwi's the rudiments of Greek.
The editorial office was set up in a room in "Fernleaf House", part of the New Zealand headquarters. The print shop was staffed by three locals - Niko and two young girls - neither of whom could speak or read English.
Stories were drawn from the BBC. The title banner was cut from a wood block. When it came to printing the first edition various problems emerged - the lack of the letter "W" which was solved using the Greek "omega", the printing proprietor had left for his kafenion (a Karatsos cafe) and the print run being interrupted by bombing raids.
By 2am, Wednesday 14 May, the first edtion was printed and available for distibution to ther troops.
Throughout the Crete campaign, four editions of the Crete News would be prpduced - under increasingly difficult circumstances. the lat edition was published on Saturday 24th May despite having to re-locate some of the production to a cave outside of Chania. As the final 600 copies of the last edition were removed from the printers, a German bomb hit the printing presses and destroyed the print shop. Only two copies of this final edition are know to have survived the war.
Some pages of the Crete News are reproduced below:

Source: New Zealand Official History of WW2 - Crete; Moran family

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