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

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Call for Anzac Trail across the Peloponnese to aid Greek tourism


Members of Melbourne's Peloponnese community including Mr Paul Sougleris, Mr Rico Soublis, Mr George Kallianis and Cr Jim Grivoskostopoulos with Mr Jim Claven and Ms Catherine Bell. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Last Sunday Melbourne’s Peloponnese community came together to discuss promoting tourism to their region through the creation of an Anzac trail. The focus of the day was a presentation by historian Jim Claven explaining the connection between the region and the Anzac's in WW2.
The meeting was hosted by the Pam Messinian Society “Pappaflessas” and was attended many members of Melbourne’s Peloponnese community.
Ms Catherine Bell, Cr Jim Grivoskostopoulos and a Pappaflessas member who witnessed the battle of Kalamata in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
A number of those attending had a direct connection to the region and WW2, two members of the Melbourne’s Kalamata community having witnessed the Anzac’s in Kalamata during the war. Also present was Ms Catherine Bell, the daughter of Private Syd Grant who had served in Greece in WW2 and been evacuated from the Mani in April 1941. Also present was Melbourne film-maker Nikita Ballas of Kalamata extraction whose new feature film will be screened as part of the coming Greek Film Festival.
Meeting advertisement by Paul Sougleris, 2016
Mr. Claven’s presentation explained the deep connection between the region and the Anzacs who came there in 1941 and beyond. He took the audience on an illustrated walk with the Anzacs across the Peloponnese.
Corinth Canal - the site of the famous battle in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He explained how the Peloponnese was the location of the last battles of the Greek campaign in WW2 – at Corinth Canal and on the Kalamata waterfront – and from where thousands of Allied troops where evacuated from the harbours and beaches at Tolos, Nafplio, Monemvasia and Kalamata.
Diggers like the Captain Edward “Weary” Dunlop, who would become a household name for his medical aid to those on the Burma-Thailand Railway, would make his way to Nafplio via Argos to await embarkation. Weary is remembered casually writing a letter home to his wife, sitting on a wall in Nafplio, as others dived for cover as German planes attacked. Australian nurses would be pictured resting in Argos’ cemetery, hiding from German air attacks.
Diggers and other Allied soldiers with local civilians in Kalamata, April 1941. Photograph Private Syd Grant, 1941. Reproduced courtesy of Ms Catherine Bell.
By the 26th April some 20,000 Allied troops, including thousands of Australians, had made their way to Kalamata’s harbor. The morning of the 27th April would see Allied warships and transport vessels evacuate the largest number of troops of all the evacuations from Greece, over 8,600 troops.
Mr Claven noted that two of the famous evacuees from Kalamata were Brigadier Stanley Savige and Horrie the Dog. Stanley was a Gallipoli veteran who had served on Lemnos in 1915 and had famously saved over 65,000 Christian refugees in northern Persia at the end of WW1. Horrie was the mascot of one of the Australian units serving in Greece. They had been evacuated from Kalamata on the Costa Rica, which would be sunk as it sailed to Crete. Horrie and the troops aboard the ship were all transferred to other ships. He would eventually be brought to Australia and end his days here.
Illustration of Sergeant Hinton attacking the German position at the battle of Kalamata waterfront, April 1941
Jim explained the little known battle of Kalamata waterfront, in which a hundred or so Allied troops – led by Victorian Captain Albert Gray and New Zealander Sergeant Jack Hinton – would attack a German advance party that had seized control of the harbor, overpowering them and taking many prisoners. Hinton would be awarded the Victoria Cross and Gray the military Cross for this action.
Women from the village of Trachila in the Mani helping Syd Grant and other Allied soldiers, April 1941. Photograph Private Syd Grant, 1941. Reproduced courtesy of Ms Catherine Bell.
The fall of Kalamata would see many Allied soldiers escape capture by moving off to the east and west of the city, being assisted by the villagers as they moved along the coast. Private Syd Grant and many others would be supported by the villagers at Trachila, Sellintisa and Limania on the Mani. A group of New Zealand soldiers would be helped to escape by the Mayor and villagers of Vassilitsa – Antonis Bizos - and those of nearby Koroni.
These diggers would never forget the generosity and bravery of the local of the region. Private Syd Grant would return to Australia and name his farm in the western district of Victoria Kalamata in their honour. And his photographs of the people of Kalamata and Trachila stand as a vivid record to their assistance to these diggers in need.
The region’s connection with the Anzacs would continue as the thousands left behind at Kalamata and the other embarkation beaches were captured and moved to the German prisoner of war camp established in Corinth’s old Greek Army barracks. Those captured sadly included thousands of Jewish members of the British Palestine Pioneer Corps. And late in 1941 and 1942, two Italian prisoners of war ships were torpedoed and those who survived were landed at Methone and Pylos respectively. One of those who survived – Australian Bill Rudd – lives today in Prahran.
One of the main streets in Kalamata where the Anzacs walked in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He illustrated his presentation with photographs from 1941 and the same locations photographed by Jim during his field research in May earlier this year. Of particular interest were Jim’s contemporary photographs of the streets of Kalamata where the Anzacs walked and where they fought the German invasion of the city. He acknowledged the assistance of local historians - Panayiotis Andrianopoulos and Sotiris Theodoropoulos - and Pappaflessas’ Paul Sougleris in aiding his identification of these sites.
Ms Catherine Bell, the daughter of Private Syd Grant, addressed the meeting recounting how her father had thankfully recorded his memories of the war for his family and future generations. Together with his hundreds of photographs they are a unique record of not only Kalamata’s but also Greece’s connection to the Anzacs in WW2.
Mr. Claven ended his talk with an appeal for the creation of an Anzac trail across the Peloponnese, linking the various sites he has identified as an aid to future commemorative tourists to the region. This could include the erection of memorial plaques or information boards or new displays at the region’s museums, such as the Kalamata war Museum.
Ms Voula Pierakou-Vounelakis, witness to the battle of Kalamata and veteran of the resistance to the Axis occupation of Greece, Athens, May 2016. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He also mentioned that there are moves to create a new documentary, featuring interviews with survivors of Kalamata and the region during the war. During his research trip Jim had been introduced by Melbourne’s Rico Soublis and his sister Laila to Ms Voula Pierakou-Vounelakis and recorded her personal testimony of when the Germans came to Kalamata. This could form part of this exciting new documentary. There is already growing support for this project from veterans families in Israel and elsewhere and Mr Claven appealed to Melbourne’s Greek community to come together to support it.
This documentary, memorial boards, displays – all linked by on-line maps - could be form an Anzac commemorative trail and finally honor the service of all these Australian and Allied soldiers who came to defend Greece alongside their Greek allies, as well as the bravery of the people of the region who braved terrible retribution to help them.
Mr Paul Sougleris, Mr Jim Claven and Mr George Kallianis. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Mr Claven thanked all in Melbourne’s Peloponnese community who have encouraged and supported him to undertake this research – in particular Paul Sougleris, Jenny Krasopoulaki, Helen Horaitis of Trachila, Antonis Tsonis, Chris Ballas &Vanilla, George Iliopoulos, Peter Andrinopoulos, Jim Grivoskostopoulos, George Kallianis and Rico Soublis.
He also thanked Mr George Kallianis, President of Papaflessas for hosting the meeting and Paul Sougleris for his assistance with the presentation. Mr George Kallianis thanked Jim and all those who attended, especially Ms Catherine Bell and her husband James, who had travelled all the way from Lorne on the Great Ocean Road to take part.
Early next month Catherine Bell will donated her father’s collection of photographs and associated memorabilia to Victoria’s State Library. These will join earlier donations to the Library by the family of Nurse Evelyn Hutt, a nurse who served on Lemnos in 1915. The State library is keen to expand its collection of photographs from both world wars, especially those relating to Greece.

Media Reports
Thanks to both of Melbourne's Greek community newspapers - Neos Kosmos and Ta Nea - for covering the meeting and presentation.
To view the report from Neos Kosmos (in the Greek language) click here.
To view the report from Ta Nea (in the Greek language) click here.
To view the report from Ta Nea (in the English language) click here.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

No comments:

Post a Comment