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

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year - from Lemnos 1915!

As the old year draws to an end and while we all begin to celebrate the coming of the new year, think of the soldiers and nurses on Lemnos in December 1915 as they prepared to celebrate their New Year on this lovely northern Aegean Island!
The troops had been evacuated from Gallipoli and were resting in Lemnos' rest camps, meanwhile the medical staff - including over 100 Australian nurses - were caring for the sick and wounded in the field hospitals that dotted Mudros Bay. And we know that they celebrated New Year in style from the writings of the diggers and nurses left to us.
The weather was fine and camp concerts were held, with songs and speeches. Eyewitness accounts tell that on the stroke of midnight the sirens of the ships anchored in the Bay began to sound, bands played and crowds of soldiers joined in banging tins to "make a great noise.” Rockets were fired into the sky, lighting up the whole place. And then the “fun begins” as Lance Corporal Albert Coates wrote, with drunken diggers pulling down their tents!
Sister Anne Donnell of the 3rd AGH wrote of having a merry time, clasping the hands with others and singing that old Scots favourite “Should Old Acquaintance” (written by Robert Burns) and wishing that the war would soon be over.
But best of all is the coming together of these young Australians and their Hellenic hosts.
One Western Australian digger recuperating at the medical facilities on the Turks Head Peninsula spent New Year’s Day enjoying the hospitality and dancing at an unnamed nearby village, possibly Portianos.
He wrote home of the great hospitality and hearty welcome he received in the homes of locals, who opened their homes for the celebration. William wrote that "lift the latch and walk in’ appeared to the order of the day.” He describes the local village square, cobbled with a single tree, being taken over by villagers taking celebration with “their national dance.” With words recognisable to anyone familiar with Greek traditional dancing, William writes of the dancers linking up “per medium of hand-kerchiefs” and rotating three shuffles forward and two back, all to the music of a “three stringed violin in the hands of an ancient minstrel."
On behalf of all in our Committee, we wish all our friends and supporters a Happy New Year and looking forward to working with you all again in 2019!
Jim Claven
Secretary, Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

HMS Waterwitch, Lemnos and Constantinople

Halas 71 (formerly HMS Waterwitch) on Bosphorus. Photo Akasiayachting
While the waters of Lemnos' Mudros Bay was deep enough to accommodate the anchorage of a large warships and luxury liners converted into hospital ships, the approaches to her shoreline were shallow.
During the months of the Gallipoli campaign, with thousands of troops coming and going, they were ferried ashore by smaller vessels with a small draft. Some of these were motorised lighters, like large barges. Others were converted trawlers or despatch vessels. One of these was the HMS Waterwitch.

HMS Waterwitch loading Allied troops during WW1
A British Royal Navy ship, the HMS Waterwitchhad been built at the Fairfeild shipyards in Glasgow (my home town), originally intended for delivery to the Ottoman Navy. The outbreak of the First World War saw her commandeered by the Royal Navy as a despatch vessel.
HMS Waterwitch during WW1
With the commencement of the Gallipoli campaign - and the need for such vessels as short journey troop transport vessels in the waters of Lemnos - the HMS Waterwitchsaw service during the campaign. Her work is revealed in the many diaries, letters and memoirs that were made by the veterans of this campaign.
One of those was Lance Corporal William Dalton Lycett of the 4th Australian Field Ambulance. Born in England, William was living in Flemington (Melbourne) when he enlisted in the AIF. In mid-September, he wrote of his journey on the HMS Waterwitch in Mudros Bay, as it transferred men recently brought from Anzac Cove by the transport Osmanieh. They had arrived at Mudros Bay at 11.30 am on Wednesday 16th September 1915. William wrote in his diary on 16th September:

"A river steamer the Waterwitch came alongside and took off all troops except those to unload stores. I was left behind to help unload our stores and panniers. Waterwitch alongside again about 8 p.m. when we put all stores aboard her and went alongside wharf."

Having to stay aboard the HMS Waterwitch overnight, William described his experience in his diary entry for the following day:

"Slept on Waterwitch all night uncomfortable on a seat. Up at 5 a.m. and commenced unloading on to wharf."

The HMS Waterwitch would see service during the Salonika campaign and would be taken to Constantinople and serve their as part of the Allied Occupation forces until 1923. The HMS Waterwitchwas then handed over to Turkey, where she worked the Bosphorus as a ferry until she was converted into a luxury charter yacht in 1986.  Her name is now Halas 71 and she operates from Istanbul and Fethiye.
Halas 71 (formerly HMS Waterwitch) on Bosphorus. Photo Bernard Gallay
The old HMS Waterwitch- built before the First world War - is still sailing, on the Bosphorus. They certainly made their boats solid in those days!
She is one of the very few Gallipoli era vessels still in service around the world.
So next time you are in Istanbul, look out for the HMS Waterwitch. You might even match to get a journey aboard her.

Information sources include from the Gallipoli Association, Charter World,
akasiayachting and AnzacsOnline webpages.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Friday, 14 December 2018

Vale Nikos Kambouris

Many members will be aware of the recent sad passing of Nikos Kambouris.
Nikos was a great supporter of our work, an early contributor to our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial project and gave great assistance to us on Lemnos itself.
In the early days of our Committee Nikos helped our executive in contacting the authorities on Lemnos and encouraging them to further promote their annual commemorations.
He represented our Committee at some of the events on the Island, laying wreaths for the Committee, when we couldn't make it. And if he was unavailable Nikos could always recommend and organise someone else to help us.
Our President, Lee Tarlamis, can never forget the invaluable help Nikos gave him during his first time visit to Lemnos. He organised a meeting for Lee with the Mayor and an interview on the radio on Lemnos. He took Lee around the Island introducing him to people and showing Lee some of its amazing sights.
It was never any trouble for Nikos.

He also assisted me in my historical field research on Lemnos, helping me in identifying some of the locations visited by the ANZACs in 1915, including his own beautiful horio or village of Romanou. I am personally sad that he will not see the images of his village taken by an unknown digger during a visit in 1915 being brought to a wider audience through the publication of our Lemnos and Gallipoli Revealed publication early next year.

Many will also remember his generosity and friendship. I personally will always remember Nikos and Sophia's hospitality on Lemnos - whether sitting in the local kafenio as I did with Nikos, Bill Georgandis and Chris Mingos one day - or having lunch at their lovely home in Romanou.

Nikos and Sophia were able to join us all in the centenary of Anzac commemorations on Lemnos in April 2015, joining us all at the wreath-laying events and on the HMAS Success in Mudros Bay. He was a great help to our Executive representatives who took part in these important commemorations - myself, Lee Tarlamis and Christina Despoteris, our Vice-President.
Nikos was also an active supporter of the Lemnian Community in Victoria, as well as the RSL Victoria's Hellenic Sub-Branch. Many of us will remember his regular participation in the annual commemorations of the Gallipoli campaign on Lemnos in April - laying a wreath on behalf of the Hellenic Sub-Branch.
Our thoughts are with Sophie and family at this time.
Vale Nikos.
Jim Claven, Secretary
on behalf of the Committee

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Enjoying Christmas on Lemnos in 1915 - With a Port Melbourne Christmas Pudding!

One of the memorable and enjoyable events that occurred on Lemnos in 1915 for the thousands of Anzacs and other Allied soldiers who came there after being evacuated from the Peninsula at the end of the Gallipoli campaign was the celebration of Christmas.
Debilitated and tired after months in the Peninsula's trenches, taking part in murderous battles, suffering shelling and subject to rampant diseases, Christmas on Lemnos brought a well deserved return to a small part of normality to the soldiers.
On Christmas Eve many soldiers received two gifts donated by thoughtful Australians - the famed Christmas Billies, filled with various goodies from home - and a Christmas Pudding between each groups of two diggers.
My research into the Lemnos and the Gallipoli campaign has revealed the origin of these Christmas Puddings - the famous Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory in Port Melbourne!
A Port Melbourne Pudding for a Port Melbourne Digger
I was recently reading about one digger, Captain Goeorge Furner Langley of the 21st Battalion. A high school teacher before the war, 24 year old George had been born in Port Melbourne, his parents living in Bay Street.
He sailed from Australia on the troopship Ulysses - named after Homer's great warrior and wanderer - as part of the Second Convoy. His ship departed from Port Melbourne in December 1914. I would think that his parents would have been in the enthusiastic crowd that waved them off from the pier.
George would survive injury in the torpedoing attack on the troopship Southland in the waters off Lemnos in September 1915 as they for Lemnos and Gallipoli.
After the evacuation of the Peninsula, George returned with his unit to Lemnos and its great Anzac Rest Camp near the village of Sarpi on the western shores of Mudros Bay.
It was here that George and his comrades enjoyed the arrival of their Christmas Billies and Christmas Puddings - like little children with Christmas stockings he later wrote home.
Australian soldiers enjoying Christmas on Lemnos, 1915. AWM
The distinctive Christmas Billie Tin. AWM
Port Melbourne's Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory Comes to the Rescue
It was in one of his letters home that I discovered his reference to the source of the puddings, made by the famous Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory in Port Melbourne. Each pudding was donated by an individual, a card with their name accompanying each pudding. George wrote that he and his men wrote back to each of these donors to thank them for their gift.
He also writes that the men received a parcel of shirts and handkerchiefs, a gift from the factory's Working Bee. He also wrote a letter thanking a Miss Holmes, the Secretary of the Working Bee.
Christmas Day was enjoyed on Lemnos, with concerts, church parades and dinners, with music from military bands and the singing of carols and other songs by the soldiers well into the night.

Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory
The Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory was the first biscuit company to be established in Australia. Founded by Englishman Thomas Swallow in 1854 and located in Port Melbourne, the factory would grow to be the fifth largest biscuit company in the world.
Some of its famous brands were Marie Biscuits, Uneeda and many more. The company also sourced fruit and vegetables from Mildura, Mooroopna, Kyabram and Wandin in country Victoria, and sugar from Queensland. The factory building was located within the boundary of Rouse, Stokes, Beach and Princes Streets Port Melbourne. The company was taken over by the Australian Biscuit Company in 1964 and later Arnotts. The factory where George Langley's Christmas Pudding was made is no more but the building remains, converted for residential use.

Lemnos and Port Phillip
This is just another little known connection between the Port Phillip area and Lemnos. Many soldiers and two nurses from the area enlisted and served on Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign. Now we know that the puddings a received by the weary diggers on Lemnos were made by the workers of Port Phillip.
this only reinforces the importance of the location of our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial at Lemnos Square in nearby Albert Park - not far from Bay Street Port Melbourne were George Langley grew up.
Enjoy your Christmas Pudding and think of Lemnos
So this Christmas if you sit down and enjoy some Christmas Pudding and custard, think of the workers of the Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory in Port Melbourne making the puddings for the diggers on Lemnos - and the enjoyment of the same diggers as they enjoyed them on Christmas Eve, on the shores of Mudros Bay, Lemnos.
More Information
For more information on George Langley see Alan Gregory (ed.), Langley’s Letters, Langley, Courtis, Thompson Library Trust, April 2015. For information on the Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory see the following websites:
Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society
Trust Advocate; 
Thomas Swallow - ADB

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Thursday, 22 November 2018

New Publication from Benaki (Athens) on Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor - known as Paddy - was a great travel writer, WW2 war veteran (Greece and Crete campaigns) and lover of all things Hellenic. A new publication from Athen's Benaki Museum is a must for all fans of Paddy.
From time to time, the Benaki Museum publishes a supplement to its regular journal, and the 9th Supplement is a masterpiece dedicated to Patrick Leigh Fermor's (known universally as Paddy) life. 
Well bound, and coffee table book sized, there are over twenty new articles exploring a range of topics including Paddy’s intimates and friends, his walks, the Cretan resistance, wider discussions of Greece, Paddy’s writing and of course the house.
The Benaki have assembled a remarkable collection of writers including Hamish Robertson, Cressida Connolly, the Marques de Tamaron, Nick Hunt, John Kitmer, Chris White, Colin Thubron, John Julius Norwich, Adam Sisman, and Roberto Calasso amongst others.
The supplement is available from the Benaki Museum shop for 18 Euros plus worldwide DHL shipping.
Thanks to the PLF Society for the information.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Homer's Odyssey Live at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Gardens (St Kilda Rd)

Members and supporters may be interested in the coming live performance of Homer's Odyssey in Melbourne. As we know, the stories of Homer and other Classical authors featured in the diaries and letters of the Anzac's who came to Lemnos in 1915. The story of the siege of Troy and Odyssey were well known to many Anzacs and other Allied soldiers. Details of the performance are below. Thanks to Melbourne's Ithacan Philanthropic Society for sharing.
The Odyssey - An adventure marathon: Homer’s epic told in full over 12 hours
Translated by Emily Wilson
Location: MPavilion
Date: Saturday 1 December 2018
Time: 11am – 11pm
Admission is FREE
The Stork Theatre presents a homeric marathon: The Odyssey told in full over 12 hours by 30 different performers. Homer’s classic adventure story told from beginning to end for the first time ever in Australia – A must see. Join us for your favourite chapter, stay for the whole 12 hour marathon or come and go as you please. This event is ideal for families, students and anyone who loves adventure.
Bring a picnic basket and join us at Melbourne’s iconic MPavilion, in the Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road for this adventure marathon. Admission is FREE and seating in the pavilion itself is limited but there are plenty of ideal picnic spots on the grass.
Girls to the Front
Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey is the first English translation by a woman. Wilson brings a fresh and unique perspective to this epic tale, foregrounding the many powerful and important women whom we meet along the way. The goddess, the Sorceress, the Queen and the wife will be brought to life by the prodigious talents of Sigrid Thornton, Natasha Herbert, Kate Kendall and many more.
Magda Szubanski, Australia’s most loved comedian and performer, will open the event by reading Chapter one at 11am in the first session.
For more information on the actors performing and session times, visit

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Monday, 19 November 2018

Armistice Events on Lemnos and more - Message from our Vice-President Ms Christina Despoteris

Lemnos took centre stage, as the events celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the end on the First World War and the signing of the Armistice of Moudros were held on this beautiful island in the Aegean.
The events covered the historical significance of the day - various speakers elaborated on the events leading up to the signing of the Armistice and there were exhibitions depicting various aspects of the period; they celebrated the achievements of today - with a parade and the "Run for Peace"; and also looked to the future with the launch of two sister school relationships between schools in Melbourne and Lemnos.
Representing the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee as well as the Lemnos Community of Victoria, I was very proud, as a Greek of Lemnian Heritage to participate in the wreath laying ceremonies at both Portianou and East Moudros Military Cemeteries, deliver the keynote address prepared by Historian Jim Claven, and accompany the other two groups from Melbourne to the various events.
The two groups from Melbourne represented at the events on Lemnos were the 2018 Armistice Tour Recipients (Alumni of the Premier's Spirit of Anzac) accompanied by Major General David McLachlan (Rtd) and Rowena Vagg Manager of the Veterans Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet; and the 30 Army Cadet Unit from Sunshine ably led by Captain John Luca and assisted by John Stewart. Also in attendance was Major Terry Kanellos (Rtd) representing the Hellenic Sub-Branch of the RSL Victoria.
Although there were many Diplomatic and Defence Force representatives from countries such as England, New Zealand, Canada, France and Germany to name a few, Australia was not only represented by Her Excellency the Australian Ambassador to Greece Kate Logan, but the 25 member delegation from Melbourne which not only attended but participated in the events by laying wreaths, singing the Australian Anthem, marching in the parade and in the case of the 30 Army Cadet Unit, forming the catafalque party at the Lemnos/Anzac Memorial at Moudros Bay. These young men and women were great ambassadors for Australia. Congratulations to all.
Looking forward to the future, I was delighted to introduce the Albert Park College, which is adjacent to the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial at Lemnos Square, to the Moudros Senior High School and the Dandenong Greek Community School to the Moudros Junior High School to form sister school relationships. Both these relationships were officially launched at the events last weekend.
The Moudros Senior High School organised a school assembly, (also present were the Sub-Prefect of Lemnos Evangelos Giarmadouros, representatives of the local council, the clergy and parents), at which students welcomed guests and spoke about the importance of the sister school relationship. There was singing and dancing and of course the official launch which was in the form of a skype session between the Principal of the Albert Park College Steve Cook and the Principal of the Moudros Senior High School Stellios Karayiannis.
A similar event was arranged at the Moudros Junior High School at which the Principal Maria Papapanayiotou and the Principal of the Dandenong Greek Community School Niki Farfara-Pashou and the President of the Community Steve Karamoschos participated in the skype session officially launching the relationship. Students from both schools had prepared speeches and questions. There was also plenty of singing of popular Greek songs and the waving of both Greek and Australian flags.
Lemnos and Australia have a very strong bond with thousands of Lemnians leaving Greece and settling in Australia many years ago. There is also the Anzac connection to Lemnos. Today we look forward to the future through these initiatives with the schools.
Again, I would like to re-iterate how honoured and proud I was to be present at such an historical occasion and look forward to my continued association with all things Lemnian.
It would be remiss of me not to thank the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and the Lemnos Community of Victoria for letting me represent them and of course, Jim Claven Historian and Secretary of our Committee for his amazing and detailed documentation of the events leading up to the Armistice of Moudros.
See some of my photos of the above events below.

Christina Despoteris
Vice President
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee; and
Executive Member
Sister Cities Australia

Ms Despoteris with the Sub-Prefect of Lemnos Evangelos Giarmadouros (right)

Above with the two Principals Stellios Karayiannis Moudros Senior High School and Maria Papapanayiotou Moudros Junior High School.

Above the Australian delegation.

Ms Despoteris with Her Excellency the Australian Ambassador to Greece Kate Logan at East Mudros Military Cemetery

Ms Despoteris with Her Excellency the Australian Ambassador to Greece Kate Logan at Australian Embassy Athens