|Detail from John McAllister Vincent's Memorial window, Christ Church, Brunswick. Photo Jim Claven 2016|
Recently I visited the Anglican Christ Church in Glenlyon Road Brunswick and discovered this beautiful memorial window dedicated to a local Brunswick boy who was tragically killed on Crete at the village of Mournies, south of the great Suda Bay.
John McAllister Vincent was born in Brunswick on 4th September 1916.
At the time of his enlistment into the 2nd Australian Imperial force he was working as a registrar at the University of Melbourne.
He was a pianist with the Meistersingers Male Choir as well as the organist at his local Anglican church - Christ Church, Brunswick. There are many reports of his performances. One report in the The Argus from June 1939 under the heading - "Choral Concert at Pentridge" - reports of a concert given to prisoners at Pentridge by the Meistersingers Male Choir, with John listed as the accompanist.
He enlisted into the 2/1st Field ambulance at East St Kilda on 24th October 1939 as VX659. He was the son of John and Margaret Hood Vincent of West Brunswick. He listed mother as his next of kin.
John would have served in the Middle East and Greece, as well as on Crete.
By the time John arrived on Crete, he was attached to the 2/2 Field Regiment's Regimental Aid Post, serving under Captain William Refshauge, Australian Army Medical Corps.
|Venizelos House, Mournies, Crete.|
On the morning of the 24th May the 2/2 Field Regiment Regimental Aid Post was attacked by German Stuka's for the second day in a row. On this occasion, 6 men were killed, Vincent being one of them. One of the others killed was mess orderly, Gunner James Zampelis. James would be the only Anzac of Hellenic background to be killed during the Greek-Crete campaign.
The commander of the 2/2 Field Regiment,Lieutenant Colonel Cremor wrote later that they were killed instantly during the bombing raid.
Several other diggers were wounded, including Captain Refshauge, who was Mentioned-in-dispatches for his service during the bombing raid.
Two members of the unit were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery on that day, tending to the wounded under enemy fire - Gunner John Donovan and Corporal Donald Findley.
Like James Zampelis, John was originally listed as missing in action and then reported killed in action.
Those killed on that day were buried by their comrades near the village of Mournies - John, James Zampelis and the other four diggers killed that day. After the war, their graves could not be found.
For this reason, John - along with James - is memorialised on the Athens Memorial to the missing, Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens.
|Detail from the Athens Memorial, Phaleron War Cemetery. Photo Jim Claven 2016|
The stained glass memorial window was erected in his honour in 1952 by the Reverend R Clarke.
The window is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
The erection of this memorial window is similar to that erected in honour of Private Felix Craig who was killed in action at Farsala in Greece in April 1941. His memorial window stands in Ararat's Anglican Church.
This is yet another example of the stories of the Anzacs in Greece that lie all around us,waiting to be discovered and brought to light again. If anyone knows of other similar memorials around Australia please share them with us and keep the story of the Anzacs in Greece alive.
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs & Pappaflessas Brotherhood for his help in researching this story.
Lest we forget.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council