4,000 diggers came down from their camp at Bonegilla and marched up Swanston Street passed Melbourne's Town Hall. The crowds waved special Greek Day flags, replete with reproductions of the Australian and Greek national flags.
|'The A.I.F. Marches – Australian Holds out a Helping Hand to the Heroic Greeks', The Australasian (Melbourne), Saturday, February 22, 1941, page 20. National Library of Australia Collection.|
Over 700 volunteers helped sell the special Greek Day badges, with stalls set up throughout the route selling gifts and toys - all to raise funds for the Greek War Victims Fund.
This Fund was backed by the Australian Government and local fund-raising efforts were organised across the country. The Melbourne march and fund-raising day was the biggest effort in Victoria, and possibly Australia.
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It is important to remember that these fundraising efforts took place across Australia when no Australian troops had yet been sent to Greece itself. The people of Australia were supporting Greece's fight itself. Soon tens of thousands of Australian soldiers would be sailing to Greece in March and April 1941 to help in the defence of Greece as it faced the coming German invasion.
All who value the service of Australia's soldiers who fought in the Greece and Crete campaigns - as well as the enduring link between Australia and Greece stretching back to Lemnos in 1915 - should remember this important day in Melbourne's, Australia's and Greece's history.
Following the Italian invasion of Greece, major fundraising efforts were organized across Australia, supported by the Australian government, to assist Greek war victims. Special fundraising days were organized which became known as Greek Days. Special buttons and badges were produced - Greek Day badges - and flags combining the British and Greek flag. These were sold throughout Australia as fundraisers. This is the first of many posts commemorating Australia's Greek Days.
Lest we forget
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
Member, The Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council