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, 10 November 2016

Donation of Unique Australian WW2 Greek Campaign Memorabilia to the State Library of Victoria

The Consul-General of Greece, Her Excellency Christina Simantiraki joins with veterans family members and supporters witness the donation of the Grant and Moran WW2 collections to the State Library. Photo Craig Tolson  2016
Today was another great day in the commemoration of the Hellenic connection to Anzac.
Two Greek campaign veterans families have donated their extensive collections of memorabilia to Victoria's State Library.
Horsham's Private Syd Grant and Ballarat's Lieutenant Henry Moran served with the Australian 2/8th Battalion as it fought its way across the length of Greece in April 1941. This Battalion was mostly recruited from residents from Victoria's western district.
Both diggers fought in the great battle of Vevi in northern Greece, alongside British, New Zealand and Greek troops, facing German SS troops and successfully holding them up for three days. They went on to serve in the defences of the key passes through central Greece.
Henry was evacuated from Kalamata but Syd was not. Helped by local Greek villagers, he made his way down the Mani to the little village of Trachila where he was helped by the people until he was evacuated to Crete and on to Alexandria.
Henry fought on Crete, defending the Allied troops as they withdrew to the southern port of Sfakia, where he was eventually evacuated to Egypt.
Both soldiers had served in the battles of the western desert and returned to Australia.
Syd's collection encompasses over 300 unique photographs, correspondence home and written and audio memoirs. Henry's collection includes a rare copy of the Allied Crete newspaper - the Crete News - as well as video memoirs recorded by his daughter, Joan, who attended the donation ceremony today.
A number of the extended family of Syd Grant attended - including his two daughters, Catherine and Elisabeth and son David. The children of Henry Moran attended - Mick, Jim and Joan.

The Consul-General of Greece, Her Excellency Christina Simantiraki holds up Henry Moran’s copy of the Crete News from 1941, with Henry’s children – Jim, Joan and Mick. At left Betty Kosmas of Papaflessas Brotherhood (left) and Jonathan Rossi (right). Photo Jim Claven 2016
Along with these descendants, the Consul-General of Greece, Ms Christina Simantiraki, attended and spoke at the event. She said how she was moved by the donation of these personal collections that would demonstrate the deep connection between Greece and Australia forged in war. It was fitting that such collections would be held in Melbourne, given its large Hellenic-background community. She added that as someone with a Cretan background, she particularly enjoyed Syd's photographs of Crete in 1941.

The Consul-General of Greece, Her Excellency Christina Simantiraki, talks with Catherine Bell, the daughter of Syd Grant. Syd’s son David at left and other daughter, Elisabeth centre. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Catherine Bell, the daughter of Syd Grant, spoke of how emotional it was to donate such material but that it was important that these records be preserved and accessed by future generations. She spoke of her father's love of Greece and its people, his gratitude for the people who helped him when he was on the run - at great peril to themselves. He returned to Kalamata and Trachila in the 1970's and was welcomed by the people. He named his farm in Victoria "Kalamata" in their honor. For years later, he would travel to Northcote to buy his precious Kalamata olives!Dr Kevin Molloy accepted the donations on behalf of the State Library and encouraged other families with simialr memorabilia to consider donating thier material to the Library's expanding Greek Anzac collection.
Others who attended the event were members of Melbourne's Peloponnese community, including Ms Betty Kosmas of the Papaflessas Brotherhood.
Members of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee were also in attendance - Lee Tarlamis, Deb Strewart, Arlene Bennett (pictured above, left to right) and Christina Despoteris.
On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to have assisted both the Grant and Moran families in making these important donations.
Me (at left) join Christina Simantiraki and the Syd Grant extended family. Photo Ioanne Kikkides  2016
Below are some of the photos from the Syd Grant collection:
A gathering in Kalamata Greece of Greeks and a few Australians .G.Maxwell with hands on his hips. He is now a prisoner 28 April 1941. Syd Grant Collection

Two of the many Greek girls who fed us with bread and water standing at the entrance of an old church at Trachila  Greece 30 April 1941. Syd Grant Collection

A terror for the plonk at Neon Corinth [Neo Khorion or Neo Chorio] Crete May 1941. Syd Grant Collection

Greek campaign Veteran former Lieutenant Henry Bernard Moran holding his copy of the Crete News, 20 years ago. Courtesy of family of Henry Bernard Moran, 2015

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Greece and Crete Commemorative Council

1 comment:

  1. I'm very glad to see the importance of Lemnos recognised. I visited the island while preparing my book "From the Suburbs to the Trenches, the Story of Two Australian Soldiers of the Great War". One of my two soldiers was in the Gallipoli campaign, and so was in Mudros Harbour. I can provide a copy of my book at cost. With good wishes, Ralph Seccombe, PO Box 130, Toronto NSW 2283