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

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

You are Invited - 28th October OHI Day Commemoration in Melbourne

The Hellenic RSL Sub Branch has advised that this year's OHI Day commemorative services will be held on Friday, 28th October 2016. All welcome.

Ohi Day commemorates the rejection by Greece of Mussolini's ultimatum on 28 October 1940.  Mussolini had demanded Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified "strategic locations" or otherwise face war. What followed was the defeat of the resulting Italian invasion as the Greek Army drove the Italian Army back deep into Albania.
The effective defeat of Italy saw Germany launch its invasion against the Greek and Allied forces.
The ill-fated defence of Greece by Greece and her Allies (including Australia's 6th AIF Division) against the German invasion was followed by the heroic Greek resistance until the withdrawal and defeat of German forces in Greece in late 1944. After a fighting retreat against overwhelming odds, Greek and Allied German offensive was successful. Greek.

Service Details
Details of the days commemorative events are as follows:
  • 09.30am – Greek Orthodox Church Service at St Eustathios in 221 Dorcas St South Melbourne
  • 12.00 noon – Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Australian Hellenic Memorial (Domain Gardens)
  • 1.00pm – Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance
  • 1.45pm – Refreshments at our sub-Branch, Memorial Hall, 14A Ferrars Place South Melbourne
For further information please contact Terry Kanelos, Secretary of the Hellenic RSL Sub Branch on 0414 209 674.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Friday, 16 September 2016

You're Invited - Lemnos 1915 Presentation - Port Melbourne Historical & Preservation Society - Monday 26 September 2016

Historic postcard of Port Melbourne Town Hall, Bay Street, Port Melbourne.
Come along and hear my address on the role of Lemnos in 1915 to the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society.
The presentation will be made at Port Melbourne's historic Town Hall building, erected in 1882.
The presentation is free and open to the public.
It is a great honour to give this presentation to one of the key historical socieies located in the City of Port Phillip - the location of our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial.
Sarpi Camp, Lemnos, 1915. AW Savage Collection. State Library of NSW
I will recount the often forgotten role that the Greek Island of Lemnos played in the Gallipoli campaign - as the forward base for the campaign, the location of soldiers' rest camps and field hospitals, where Australia's nurses served, where 148 diggers remain buried amongst the over 1,200 other Allied graves on the Island and the location for the armistice which ended the First World War in the east. And it was here that Australian soldiers and nurses experienced the culture and hospitality of their Greek hosts.
I will also identify some of the strong connections between Lemnos, Anzac and the Port Phillip area.


  • When: 7.15pm for 7.30pm, Monday 26 September 2016 
  • Where: Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society, First floor Council Chamber, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay Street, Port Melbourne (enter from Spring Street South, Library entrance)
Thanks to Pat Grainger, Secretary of the PMHPS for extending the invitation ot me to make this address.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Lemnos Hero - Brunswick FC player and Lieutenant Rupert Balfe Remembered

Joseph Balfe and Brunswick Football Club, 1908. Leader.
Joseph Rupert Balfe (always known as Rupert) was born in Brunswick 9th March 1890. He resided with his parents - Matthew and Sarah - at 6 Barkly Street, Brunswick. Educated at Princes Hill state school and then University High School, Rupert went on to study Medicine at the University of Melbourne. It is reported that while at the University, Rupert struck a friendship with a young law student, Robert Menzies, the future PM of Australia. 
A Keen Footballer
Rupert was a keen Australian Rules footballer, playing for Brunswick Football Club before moving the the VFL's University Football Club, playing in the 1909 and 1911 seasons.
He played in the 1908 VFA Grand Final, where Brunswick played against Footscray. Joseph was joined by two other Balfe's in the Brunswick team. The Final was played at the MCG, regarded as a coup for the VFA as this was the ground used by the VFL. The attendance earned the VFA over 1,000 pounds. Footscray would defeat Rupert's Brunswick by 24 points in front of 40,000 fans.
The Final was played on Monday, August 31, 1908, a public holiday during American Fleet Week. US Rear-Admiral Sperry’s fleet had sailed up Port Phillip Bay on Saturday August 29, 1908. The long weekend included races, an international boxing tournament at South Melbourne Football ground and the Royal Melbourne Show.
Rupert enlisted on 15 August 1914. He reported his over 4 years service wityh the Melbourne University Regiment, serving fifteen months as an officer. He applied for a commission and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion, AIF. He was 24 years and 5 months old. His Anzac service would ensure that he would not reach 26 years old.
Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe. AWM
At the time Rupert's father was the Mayor of Brunswick.
The 6th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 5th, 7th and 8th Battalions, it was recruited from Victoria and, together with these battalions, formed the 2nd Brigade. The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later.
Second Lieutenant Rupert Balfe, September 1914. AWM
Above is a studio portrait of Rupert, taken alongside ten other diggers of the 6th Battalion. It was taken in September 1914 and he wears the distinctive cap of the Melbourne University Regiment.
Rupert sailed from Port Melbourne aboard the Hororata. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December 1914. 
The Battalion made its way to the great Anzac Camp at Mena, where they trained and were reformed. Here in Egypt Rupert was promoted to Lieutenant. Rupert purchased 6 photographs of his Company at Mena. one of them is reproduced below. On the back, he wrote:
"The new "A Coy" [Company] in "close columns of Platoons in fours turned to a flank". I am on the extreme right of the front rank ie. nearest to you. I've got funny colored (sic) putties [puttees] on. Riddell is the next officer in the same line. Peter is in front turning round and in front again is Capt Hamilton. The Great Pyramid is on the left Cheops. Kephiew [Khufu] on the right. Most of the alabaster is gone. The tip that is still on can be seen."
Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe and A Company, 6th Battalion, Mena Camp, January 1915. AWM
On 2 April - just over twenty days before the fateful landings at Anzac Cove - Rupert would be photographed with five other of the Battalion's officers at Mena. Rupert is standing on the right.
Rupert (standing right) with other 6th Battalion officers, Mena Camp, April 1915. AWM
One of Rupert's comrades in the 6th Battalion was Private Harry Gordon Craig. In a letter home, Harry described how the troops in Egypt had been given orders to get their kit ready and had been given 50 rounds of ammunition, taking the weight of their packs to something like 68kg.
They had then marched 19 kilometers to Cairo and had caught the train for Alexandria, arriving next morning.
They had boarded ships immediately and had sailed for Lemnos.  
Rupert and the 6th Battalion stayed for two weeks on Lemnos, where they prepared for the landings. He would have practiced disembarking and maybe landed on the Island to conduct route marches and various practice drills to prepare them for the coming landings. As an officer, Rupert may have ventured to Mudros or one of the other villages surrounding Lemnos' large Mudros Bay where his and other Allied ships were moored.

Joseph and the 6th Battalion aboard the Galeka. Lemnos, 1915. AWM
Anzac Cove - Rupert is Killed
Rupert sailed for Anzac Cove aboard the Galeka. Along with his Battalion, Rupert took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915, as part of the second wave.
Rupert's comrade - Private Craig - wrote of the landing in a later letter:
"One night about 12 we sailed from where we were, about 4am I heard a gun burst over my head, so went down below - wasn't taking any risks. We had breakfast and then started to disembark.
"There were about four destroyers firing on the Turks, Queen Elizabeth, the London and don't know what the other two were. A Company was the first to land then B and C. I was looking out of the port hole and could see about a million Turks on the beach and cliffs banging away at our boys for all they were worth.
"We had to climb down the ship rope ladder into our boat. There were about 10 boats and 25 men in each boat. A tug took us within 100 yards of the beach and we had to row the rest of the way. The shrapnel was bursting all round us, also machine guns, rifle shot.
"We lost a lot of men before we landed, but our boat got ashore safely. The Naval Officer in our boat - a big fat chap - when a shrapnel burst within a yard of us laughed and said "Oh never mind them, the beggars couldn't hit a hay stack.
"I believe the first lot to arrive fixed bayonets in the water and did not wait for any orders but simply charged the Turks. Some of them dropped the guns and cried for mercy, which they didn't get, and the rest went for their lives to the trenches.
"Well we landed. We marched about 100 yards and then took a rest and then word came to go up into the firing line at once. We threw our packs away and then got on with the game. The country was so rough and scrubby that you couldn't see where you were going and the shrapnel was bursting all round us and the bullets were so thick that we thought they were bees buzzing about us ..."
It was during this period, just after the landing, that Joseph was killed.
North Fitzroy's Sergeant Collins of the 6th Battalion - who had sailed with Rupert on the Hororata from Port Melbourne -  later reported that as they reached the beach a bursting artillery shell killed Rupert instantly. Sadly the Naval Officer's optimism had not protected Rupert.
He was buried at Shrapnel Gully, his grave marked with a wooden cross.
Joseph's grave would be here at Shrapnel Gully Cemetery, July 1915. AWM
The cemetery was the largest near Anzac Cove and suffered much shellfire damage throughout the Gallipoli campaign. It appears that after the war, Rupert's grave site could not be found so he is today recorded on the Memorial to the Missing at Lone Pine.
Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli. Photo Jim Claven 2015
Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe's name listed (on left) amongst the 6th Battalion missing, Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli. Photo Jim Claven 2015
His death would be mourned back in Melbourne. It is recorded that the Brunswick Council noted his death and recorded their sympathy for the Mayor and his wife's loss. Brunswick Football Club players wore "black armbands ... in memory of their old comrade."
Other AFL Players who have died in war
This post was prompted by a recent edition of the AFL's Record (Round 5, 22-25 August 2016) which contains a list of all AFL players who served and who were killed in war.
This list includes the three Anzac's killed during the Greek campaign of 1941 or over Greece during WW2 - Lance Bombardier John (Jack) Montague Drake killed at Brallos Pass, Bombardier Leo (Gus) Young killed at sea during the battle for Crete, and  Pilot Officer Beresford Stanley "Beres" Reilly killed over Crete.
Thanks to our Committee's Deb Stewart for providing a copy of the AFL Record magazine.
To download this list, click here.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Out Now - Lemnos Sister Evelyn Hutt's story and photos in SLV La Trobe Journal

Recently I was invited to submit an article for publication to the State Library of Victoria's bi-annual La Trobe Journal (edition No. 98, September 2016). The Journal is now available for purchase.
My article is entitled - "The Sister Evelyn Hutt World War 1 Collection - an Australian nurse at war." It recounts Evelyn's story, her war service on Lemnos and beyond and reproduces some of her beautiful and unique photographs of Lemnos.
Last year I assisted the family of Evelyn - Judith Gunnarsson and Deb Stewart (one of our Committee members) - in donating Evelyn's extensive collection to the State Library of Victoria. My article would not have been possible but for the generosity of Judith and Deb in acquainting me with Evelyn's collection and in donating for the benefit of future generations. And thanks to Committee member Arlene Bennett for introducing his all.
One of Evelyn's amazing collection of photographs taken on Lemnos in 1915. Evelyn Hutt Collection, State Library of Victoria.

My article has been published alongside a number of other articles describing and celebrating the State Library's exetensive collection of photographs, letters, diaries and other important memorabilia from the First Wordl War. The edition is entitled: "Collecting and Commemorating World War 1 and the State Library Victoria." Along with the Australian War Memorial and the State Library of NSW, the State library Victoria has one of the most extensive collections of material relating to WW1. This Journal explains the extent, depth and often unique quality of the material held at the Library.

Some of the other articles in the Journal are:
  • Bronwyn Hughes "'Y'rs affectionately, Mont': the World War 1 correspondence of William Montgomery", which includes references to Lemnos and the torpedoing of Troopship Southland off Lemnos. 
  • Lucy Bracey, "Personal records of World War 1: State Library Victoria collection highlights", includes reference to the war diary of Alfred Love and its references to Lemnos; and Chaplain Thomas Bennett's Christmas Billy tin from Lemnos.
Also of interested are Kevin Molloy's article on the collection of J.G. Roberts, re-telling an Irish aspect of the Anzac story, and John Arnold's article on the Library's honour board commemorating those Library staff who served and those who died in WW1. There are also articles relating to the Library's extensive collection of German propaganda pamphlets, the battle of Fromelles, Patsy Adam-Smith and her researching of her book The Anzacs and more! A great read and a good buy.

The Journal was published this week and is available for purchase at the Readings bookshop outlet at the State Library of Victoria. The Journal price is $30.
A Friend of the Library
You can receive the two annual editions of the La Trobe Journal by becoming a Friend of the Library. For details follow this link.
Thank You 
I would like to thank Dr Kevin Molley, Manuscripts Collection Manager, and John Arnold (Jounal co-Editor) for encouraging me to submit my article for publication.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Monday, 5 September 2016

Lemnos 1915 - Kilmore Historical Society Presentation Tonight

Nurses on Lemnos, 1915. AWM

Come along and hear my presentation on Lemnos and its role in the Gallipoli campaign tonight (6th September 2016) at the Kilmore Historical Society.
I will touch on some local connections to the Lemnos story, including Kilmore Colonel James Burston, commander of the 7th AIF Brigade as well as some other local diggers who came to Lemnos. Also we will discuss the identity of the Australian nurse on the right of the photograph above. This has a local connection too.
The presentation will take place in the historic Kilmore Court House (pictured above), 4 Powlett Street Kilmore.This building was erected in 1863 and renovated in 1888 and is on the Victorian Heritage Register.
My address will commence at approximately 8pm following the AGM of the Kilmore Historical Society. The meeting room will be open from 7.30pm. The talk will be followed by supper. Please feel free to attend if you are able.
For more information about my presentation or about the Kilmore Historical Society please email -
Thanks to Barbara Wilson (Secretary of the Kilmore Historical Society) and to Liz Dillon-Hensby for the opportunity to give the address.
Liz - a qualified nurse - has been a keen supporter of our Memorial in Albert Park attending our unveiling last year as part of the re-enactment team led by Faye Threyfall.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee