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Tuesday, 12 April 2016
10-13 April 1941 - Diggers of the Day - Ballarat's Corporal Henry Moran & the Lost Diggers of Sotir
Corporal Henry Moran MiD
One of the defenders at Vevi was Corporal Henry Moran.
Like many of the 2/8th Battalion Henry was from western Victoria, Henry coming from Waubra near Ballarat.
Despite a valiant defence in hastily prepared positions, the 2/8th Battalion had been badly mauled at Vevi.
After the battle the battalion could assemble only fifty armed men, the remaining two hundred lacking weapons.Up to 500 other members of the Battalion who had left Australia had been killed or captured.
Corporal Moran fought and survived the battle, successfully making his retreat over the mountains south of the village of Kleide. After re-joining the remains of his battalion, Henry and the survivors made their way south. He was evacuated from Kalamata on 26th April and took part in the defence of Chania in the battle of Crete. Others from the battalion - such as Private Syd Grant - were sent to Alexandria after a brief stay on Crete.
Henry continued his service in the Middle East before returning to Australia. His bravery in the Middle East and Greece was noted by his being mentioned-in-despatches. And like all other veterans of the Greek campaign, Henry would be honored by the Greek government. Henry would survive the war and return to Ballarat.
The Lost of Sotir
After the battle of Vevi, during the rearguard action at Sotir on the 13th April, a number of Allied prisoners, who had only been captured in the battle of Vevi during the previous night, were caught in the cross-fire as they sat on ploughed land in front of the Allied positions. The Australian soldiers amongst them would have most likely been from both the 2/4th and 2/8th Battalions.
Some managed to escape but others were killed and more than thirty wounded. The dead were buried by the Germans following the Allied retreat to the Aliakmon River.
For years, locals have talked of the German burial of these soldiers. Efforts are underway in Greece to locate the burial site and identify whether these rumours are correct and whether they are in fact the diggers killed at Sotir
Lest we forget.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council