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.
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!
Secretary, Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee