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

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Lemnos Gallipoli Committee Presentations in Thessaloniki

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Last week two significant presentations were made in Thessaloniki on behalf of the Lemmnos Gallipli Commemorative Committee.
Our Vice-president, Ms Christina Despoteris, presented two specially produced commemorative posters on our Committee's behalf to the City of Thessaloniki (represented by the Mayor Mr Boutaris - pictured above - and the Council President Mr Avramopoulos) and the Director of the Thessaloniki war Museum, Colonel Tzirides (pictured below).
The posters had been prepared by myself. The poster for the City of Thessaloniki reproduced one of the iconic photos taken during the Salonika campaign in WW1. Taken by the British photographer, the photograph depicts the White Tower. The poster for the War Museum was special created, reproducing many of the photographs taken of Lemnos in 1915 by the Anzacs.
We hope these two commemorative posters will be displayed in Thessaloniki as a reminder of the Anzac's in Greece and of our work in cooperation with local authorities.
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Ms Despoteris took the opportunity to visit the excellent displays at the War Museum, including those relating to WW1. Following discussions with Colonel Tsirides, she reported that the War Museum in Thessaloniki is keen to discuss future joint activities between our Committee and themselves to commemorate the Anzac connection to Greece.
While in Thessaloniki, Ms Despoteris also visited the Merimna Pontion Kirion or Pontus Women's Welfare Organisation in Thessaloniki (pictured below) to discuss the work of Melbourne's George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee as well as the work of the Thessaloniki Association "The White Tower". While there the ladies of the Kirion were able to crochet some "white flowers" as part of the Thessaloniki Associations current White Tower project. Thanks to Melbourne's Litsa Athanasiadis for organising this visit.
Below pictured from left are Ms Artemis Karanika-Kouma (Honorary President Merimna Pontion Kirion), Christina Despoteris, Ms Sotiria Stefanidou (Treasurer) and Ms Ekaterini Sariyianni-Stafilidou (Executive Member).
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

A big thank you to Christina for taking the time to make these presentations.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

You're Invited - Lemnos Gallipoli at the Oakleigh Glendi 2016

Come along to the Oakleigh Glendi at Warrawee Park Oakleigh on both Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October 2016!
The Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee will be hosting an information stall - along with the George Treloar Memorial Committee and the Greek Anzac's group.
Our stall will operate from 12 noon on both days.
Come along and check out our displays, get some free information and maybe buy some of our cool commemorative badges to support our work to ensure the Hellenic link to Anzac is better known.
A big thank you to the Oakleigh Glendi and Monash City Council for supporting our stall.
If you would like to volunteer to assist us in staffing our stall contact me via email on

See you there!

Jim Claven 
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Major George Devine Treloar Civic Reception in Ballarat - Today's Story in Neos Kosmos

Photo Jim Claven 2016

A big thank you to Australia's Neos Kosmos newspaper for its story today reporting on the successful civic reception held last weekend at Ballarat Town Hall in support of the project to erect a major new public memorial in Ballarat to the service and refugee work of Ballarat's Major George Devine Treloar.
Do yourself a favour, support Neos Kosmos and buy yourself a copy.
To see page one of the report, click here.
To see page two of the report, click here.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Miltary Cemeteries of Thessaloniki - Lembet Road Military Cemetery and Monastir Road Indian Cemetery

Our Vice President, Ms Christina Despoteris, pays her respects at the British memorial at the Lembet Military Cemetery, Thessaloniki. Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
This week our Vice President, Christina Despoteris, visited two of the cemeteries that ring Thessaloniki - Lembet Road Military Cemetery and the Monastir Road Indian Cemetery. She has sent the following photographs.
A big thank you to Christina for taking the time to visit these Cemeteries and for sharing her photographs with us.
The Salonika Campaign 1915-1918
The Salonika campaign was one of the major campaigns of the First World War. From 1915 until the end of the war, over 500,000 Allied troops were engaged against 300,000 forces of the then Central Powers - Bulgaria, German, Austro-Hungary and Turkey. The Allied troops came from many nations - from British, France, Italy, Serbia and Greece - as well as Australia and New Zealand - as well as thousands of colonial troops from the empires of France and Britain - from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and Indochina.
Over 450 Australians served on the Salonika Front - 100 soldiers and 350 nurses, nursing orderly's, ambulance drivers, doctors and other medical staff - including Doctor Mary De Garis and the famous Australian writer Miles Franklin. One of the British soldiers who fought at Salonika was Alexander McKenzie, a Welshman born in Barry at the turn of the 20th century. He lied about his age when he joined up in 1915, claiming he was 19 when he was 14 years old. He served with the Royal Horse Artilley at Salonika and was wounded. He has an Australian connection - his grand-daughter was Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The front faced a rising plain to the north, bordered by mountains, lakes and rivers, from the Vardar (now the Axios) River to the west and the Struma (now the Strymonas) River 90 miles to the east. At the top of the plain stood Lake Dorian. It would be one of the bloodiest campaigns in the first World War, the terrain favouring defence and the malarial swamps around Thessaloniki sickening tens of thousands of troops. Eventually the Allies would break through in 1918 and begin the liberation of Serbia and enter Bulgarian and Ottoman territory.
Thessaloniki's WW1 Military Cemeteries
The Mikra Cemetery at Kalamaria is well known and visited by Australian and New Zealand visitors, for here lies the only Australian nurses to be buried in Greece - Nurse Gertrude Munro from Ballarat - as well as the Memorial wall to the nurses and soldiers who died in the sinking of the Marquette.
The following information concerning Lembet Road Military Cemetery and Monastir Road Indian Cemetery is supplied largely from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Photographs by Christina Despoteris.
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Lembet Road Military Cemetery
The Cemetery is located at 192 Langada Street on the Serres highway approximately 2 km north of Thessaloniki city centre on the west side of Langada Street. The cemetery is inside a very large, mainly First World War Allied cemetery containing Serbaian, French and Italian casualties and is known locally as ‘’Zeitenlik’’ and is to the rear of the Serbian, French and Italian sections. The main entrance to the CWGC cemetery is clearly signposted on Langada Street.
Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery (formerly known as the Anglo-French Military Cemetery) was begun in November 1915 and Commonwealth, French, Serbian, Italian and Russian sections were formed. The Commonwealth section remained in use until October 1918, although from the beginning of 1917, burials were also made in Mikra British Cemetery. After the Armistice, some graves were brought in from other cemeteries in Macedonia, Albania and from Scala Cemetery, near Cassivita, on the island of Thasos
There are now 1,648 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. The Commonwealth plot also contains 45 Bulgarian and one Serbian war graves.
For a map of the layout of the Cemetery, please click here.
Christina's photographs from the British section of the Cemetery:
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Christina's photographs from the French section of the Cemetery:
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Christina's photographs from the Serbian section of the Cemetery:
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Monastir Road Indian Military Cemetery
The cemetery is located approximately 3 kilometres from the centre of Thessaloniki following Monastriou Street, direction west on the road to Edessa. Follow Monastiriou Street until you come to the large motorway overpass, turn left at the traffic lights under the motorway overpass and then turn immediately right where a large CWGC sign is located. Follow this street, Megalo Alexandrou and continue straight for approximately 400 metres and turn left at the T junction where after approximately 100 metres you shall see another CWGC sign which is directly opposite the cemetery entrance.
The cemetery was made between 1916 and 1920, and is made up of two plots - the southern plot, containing burials, and the northern plot, in which the remains of over 200 Indian servicemen were cremated in accordance with their faith. The men served mainly with the Royal Artillery, the Transport Corps of Bharatpur and Indore, the Mule Corps and, after 1918, certain Indian regiments.
There are now 358 Indian servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. The northern plot contains a memorial with panels bearing the names of those who were cremated.
The cemetery also contains the Monastir Road Indian Memorial, bearing the names of over 150 Indian servicemen who died in Macedonia during the First World War, whose graves could not be marked or moved.
For a map of the layout of the Cemetery, please click here.
Christina's photographs of Monastir Road Cemetery:
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016

Photo Christina Despoteris 2016
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Monday, 10 October 2016

Australia’s first refugee aid worker - George Devine Treloar - honored with a civic reception in his birthplace of Ballarat

Photo Jim Claven 2016
A major civic reception was held at Ballarat Town Hall last Saturday, 8th October, to honor the service of one of the city’s famous but less well-known sons, George Devine Treloar.
The reception was convened by the Mayor of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson on behalf of the City and councillors and attended by over 100 guests, including local MP’s, the Ballarat RSL, the local Greek community, many members of Victoria’s Pontian community as well as descendants of Ballarat soldiers and nurses who served in Greece in the First or Second World War.
From left to right - Ms Alex Tascas, Ms Litsa Athanasiadis, Cr Samantha McIntosh and Mr Geoff Howard MP. Photo Jim Claven 2016

Along with the Mayor those attending included His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis, Ms Alex Tascas, Secretary Ballarat RSL, Cr Samantha McIntosh, Geoff Howard MP, Murray Thompson MP, former MP’s Lee Tarlamis and the Hon John Pandazopoulos, Mr. Ange Kenos, Secretary Essendon RSL, Ms Arlene Bennett representing the Melbourne’s Nurses Memorial Centre, Mr. Con Tseprailidis, President Pontiaki Estia, Mr Savvas Athanasiadis, President of the Greek Community of Moreland. and Mr. Chris Vlassakakis, President of Panthracen Association of Melbourne. Writer and journalist, Mr. Konstantinos Kalymnios, was master of ceremonies for the reception.
From left to right - Mr Jim Claven, the Hon John Pandazopoulos, Mr Konstantinos Kalymnios and Mr Lee Tarlamis. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Ballarat-born George Devine Treloar was a highly decorated First World War veteran who went on to help over 108,000 Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the former Ottoman Empire. As the official League of Nations – the precursor to today’s United Nations – representative in northern Greece, George accepted the responsibility for providing immediate aid and assisting in the re-settlement and integration of these desperate refugees into their new homeland, Greece. George Treloar was honored by the Greek government with the award of the Order of the Redeemer by the Greek King and by the naming of one of the refugee villages after him – Thrylorion.
The reception included addresses detailing the life of George Devine Treloar and Ballarat’s connection to Greece across both World Wars by journalist and writer Mr. Konstantinos Kalymnos and historian Jim Claven. A feature was an exhibition of traditional dancing and music from the region of Pontus, one of the key areas from which the refugees fled. An overhead pictorial slideshow reproduced many of the photographs from the time, again accompanied by the distinctive music of the refugees.
The function of the reception to launch the campaign to erect a Memorial statue to George in his home town. The project is the brain-child of the Melbourne-based George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee which has been working for the past year or so to raise awareness of George’s work and promote and fundraise for the erection of a memorial in his honor.
The memorial will consist of a statue of George Treloar, aiding a young refugee child, surrounded by interpretive signage explaining George’s story and that of the refugees. The memorial will be created by a prominent sculptor selected by the Council through a public tender. It is anticipated that the memorial will be erected within the next two years, depending on how quickly funds are raised.
Participants in the event visit the possible site of the proposed George Treloar Memorial. Photo Jim Claven 2016
The Committee has already received the support of the City of Ballarat which has allocated $50,000 to the project and selected a site on the central reserve in Sturt Street. This will complement the existing memorials already erected along this reserve. They are also supported by the Ballarat RSL and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria. Most importantly, the patron of the Committee is David Treloar, the son of George Devine Treloar, who lives in Perth, Western Australia.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Cr Des Hudson, Mayor of Ballarat (above) said that it was an honor for the City of Ballarat to support the erection of this Memorial:
“The story of George Devine Treloar should be remembered into the future. The son of one of Ballarat’s prominent families, he made a huge impact on the world – not only as a soldier but also as a humanitarian. For too long his memory has been allowed to dim. Honoring him with this memorial will create a lasting legacy to inform future generations of this great man who saved the lives of so many.”
Photo Lee Tarlamis 2016
Historian Jim Claven (above) who addressed the reception pointed out the George’s service was part of a long and proud line of Ballarat people who served in war. He mentioned how Ballarat’s Hellenic community went all the way back to the days of its goldfields, with the arrival of Andreas Lekatsas from Ithaca. He then went to talk of the strong links between Greece and Ballarat through the Anzacs of the First and Second World War:
“From the local diggers and nurses who served on Lemnos in 1915 like medical orderly Albert Coates and Lieutenant Colonel Harold Pompey Elliot and Nurses Isobel Curnow and Florence Hudson – through Nurse Gertrude Munro who served and died on the Salonika Front and whose medals are displayed in the Ballarat RSL.– the only Australian nurse to be buried in Greece in the First World War – to those who served in Greece in World War Two’s ill-fated Greek campaign, like Corporal Henry Moran of the 2/8th Battalion – Ballarat and Greece has a proud connection through the war service of its sons and daughters. George Treloar is part of that tradition.”
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Jim acknowledged the presence at the event of Henry’s son – Mick Moran (pictured above on the right, with Mayor Hudson and Mr Ange Kenos Essendon RSL Secretary) - and added that it was particularly relevant to hold this reception at the Ballarat Town Hall as the Council Chambers house the regimental colours of the Henry Moran’s 2/8th Battalion, recording its service in Greece in 1941.

Ms Roma Siachos (left), Mr Mick Moran (centre) and Ms Sofia Siachos (right) - in front of the colours of the 2/8th Battalion. Photo Jim Claven 2016

It would be fitting that the proposed statue of George Treloar will be erected in the avenue of memorials on Ballarat’s St Sturt, alongside that of Albert Coates and Pompey Elliott.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Mr. Kalymnios (above) then spoke of the story of George Devine Treloar and his vital assistance rendered to the 0ver 108,000 Christian refugees from the former Ottoman Empire. While he spoke a visual display created by Mr. Claven illustrated his talk with many photographs taken by George Treloar during his service in northern Greece. 
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Speaking on behalf of the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee, Mrs. Athanasiadis (above) said
“As the descendant of one of the families helped by George Treloar, I can speak on behalf of all Australians of Pontian and Asia Minor descendant and thank the City of Ballarat for supporting our Memorial project. Erecting a lasting Memorial to this great refugee worker is paying homage to someone who literally saved our families. Without his dedication, they would not have survived and we would not be standing here today. We thank you George Devine Treloar and Ballarat.”

Mr John Salpigitidis (right), with Mr Lee Tarlamis and Ms Alex Tascas, Ballarat RSL Secretary. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Litsa thanked all those who have worked so hard to bring us to where we are – especially John and Maria Salpagtidis – who began our journey all those years ago.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
The event was crowned by a performance of traditional Pontian dance and music, performed by the dancers and musicians from the Pontiaki Estia (pictured above and below). The crowd appreciated Penny Tsombanopoulos’ explanation of the dances.

Photo Jim Claven 2016
Mr. Kalymnios spoke for all when he said that the performance was especially moving as this was the first time that the dance and music of the refugees helped by George Devine Treloar had been performed in his birthplace and at such a historic and important location.
Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis receives his commemorative poster., with Ms Roma Siachos at left. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Geoff Howard MP receives his commemorative poster from Penny Tsombanopoulos. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Mayor of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson receives his commemorative poster from Ms Litsa Athanasiadis and Mr Nickolas Krikelis. Photo Jim Claven 2016

On behalf of the Committee Ms Athanasiadis presented framed commemorative posters to the Mayor of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson, Geoff Howard MP, Ms Alex Tascas, and Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis.
On receiving her commemorative poster Ms Alex Tascas stated that it was important that we remembered the service of our local servicemen and women, and this new memorial will fill an important gap in Ballarat’s remembrance:
“Those of us who are called up to serve in war are deeply affected by the experience. George’s story shows how this brave and highly decorated soldier, who saw the horrors of the First World War at the front line, went on to help the victims of conflict. His service and work for others should be better known.”
Ms Alex Tascas Ballarat RSL Secretary receives her commemorative poster from Ms Sofia Siachos. Photo Jim Claven 2016

Many George Devine Treloar Memorial commemorative badges were sold and the event resulted in a further more than $11,000 in donations to the Memorial project. Ms. Athanasiadis specifically thanked Mr. Stan Papayianneris of GVP Fabricators and to the Australian Greek Community of Moreland for their significant contributions.
The event was followed by a lunch at Ballarat’s leading Greek restaurant – Frangali’s Kafeeneo in Sturt Street (above). The Committee would like to thank Mr. Kosta Tsepraidis and Mr. Sakis Athanasiadis for supporting this luncheon.
Committee has now raised nearly $120,000 for the erection of the memorial but more is needed. To make this dream a reality, the Committee is urgently seeking funds from the public. If you would like to support the work of the Committee or make a donation to the Memorial fund please contact the Committee Secretary Penny Tsombanopoulos on mobile 0409 850 109 or via email on
For further information, please contact Litsa Athanasiadis, Chair of the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee on 0421 804 968.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Thursday, 6 October 2016

You are invited - George Devine Treloar Memorial Reception in Ballarat, 1pm Saturday 8 October

This Saturday, 8th October, at 1pm, the Mayor of the City of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson and Councillors will be hosting a civic function in support of the City's commitment to erect a major new memorial honoring the service of Ballarat's Major George Devine Treloar.
The function will be held in the Trench Room, Ballarat Town Hall, 225 Sturt Street, Ballarat.
All welcome.
The event is supported by Central Pontian Association of Melbourne and Victoria "Pontiaki Estia" and Merimna of Pontian Ladies of Oceania and the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee
The function will include a presentation by Konstantinos Kalymnios telling the story of George Devine Treloar and the need for a new memorial dedicated to his life and service. Historian Jim Claven will make short presentation on Ballarat's connection to Greece and has prepared a overhead presentation, featuring many of the photographs of George Devine Treloar and his work.
Dancers and musicians from Melbourne's Pontiaki Eastia will perform, honoring a person who was critical to the very survival of their relatives in the 1920's.
Refreshments will be served.
Along with those traveling from Melbourne, the reception will be attended by many from Ballarat's Greek, RSL and general communities, as well as many local politicians and representatives.
George Devine Treloar
Goerge Devine Treloar was born in Ballarat and served with the British Army in the First world War, being promoted and decorated for his bravery.
He would be appointed the League of Nations representative in Thrace (Greece) with responsibility for re-settling 10,000 christian refugees fleeing persecution and expulsion from the former the Ottoman Empire. In the end, George would assist over 108,000 refugees between 1922 and 1926.
George was decorated by the Greece and a refugee village was named in his honor (Thrylorion in Thrace).
He would return to Australia and settle in Western Australia.
George was one of a number of Australian refugee workers who traveled to Greece to assist these christian refugees fleeing the Ottoman Empire. They have received little recognition of their service in Australia.
Members of the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee meeting with Ballarat RSL Secretary Ms Alex Tascas and a representative of the City of Ballarat, Feb 2015. Photo Jim Claven 2015
The George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee
Work began to promote awareness of George Devine Treloar and the new for a Memorial in 2014. John and Maria Salpagtidis – along with others - made numerous visits to Ballarat to promote the concept of a memorial for the City.
The George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee was formed in 2015 to work for the erection of a major new memorial honoring the work of George Devine Treloar and to promote awareness of the wider Australian effort to support the Christian refugees from the Asia Minor catastrophe from 1922. And what better location for the Committee’s Memorial than George’s home town of Ballarat.
The Committee was established by the Merimna of Pontian Ladies of Oceania, with involvement from the Pontiaki Estia (the Central Pontian Association of Melbourne and Victoria), historians and members of the public. Importantly, descendants of Asia Minor’s refugees play a key role in the work of the Committee. These supporters believe that the erection of the Memorial will honor an individual who in many ways ensured the survival of their ancestors and consequently themselves.
The Committee is honored to have George Devine Treloar’s son - David Treloar - as their patron. The Committee is also supported by the Ballarat RSL and the City of Ballarat.
Possible location of the George Devine Treloar Memorial, Sturt Street reserve, Ballarat. Photo Jim Claven 2015

The Memorial
Following representation from the Committee, the City of Ballarat has announced its support for the erection of the new Memorial. The Memorial will be located in the centre of Ballarat, complementing its “avenue of memorials” on Sturt Street.
While the detailed specifications for the Memorial are yet to be finalized by the City of Ballarat, the Committee hopes for the memorial to comprise a statue depicting Major George Devine Treloar, with a young refugee, possibly holding a suitcase and an olive branch. The statues will thus clearly depict George Devine Treloar, his war service and his connection to Greece and the Asia Minor refugees. To assist awareness, the statues will be complemented by information panels explaining the story of the Christian refugees, George Devine Treloar, his origins in Ballarat, his war service and his refugee work in Greece.
Media Report - Neos Kosmos
For a report on the Memorial in the Greek language published by Neos Kosmos, please click here.

While fundraising has progressed, more support is needed to make this Memorial a reality. If you would like to support the Memorial project, join the Committee or like more more information please contact Penny Tsombanopoulos on mobile 0409 850 109 or via email on
You can purchase one of the special George Devine Treloar Memorial badges for only $10 (image above) by contacting Penny Tsombanopoulos too.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Call for Anzac Trail across the Peloponnese to aid Greek tourism

Members of Melbourne's Peloponnese community including Mr Paul Sougleris, Mr Rico Soublis, Mr George Kallianis and Cr Jim Grivoskostopoulos with Mr Jim Claven and Ms Catherine Bell. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Last Sunday Melbourne’s Peloponnese community came together to discuss promoting tourism to their region through the creation of an Anzac trail. The focus of the day was a presentation by historian Jim Claven explaining the connection between the region and the Anzac's in WW2.
The meeting was hosted by the Pam Messinian Society “Pappaflessas” and was attended many members of Melbourne’s Peloponnese community.
Ms Catherine Bell, Cr Jim Grivoskostopoulos and a Pappaflessas member who witnessed the battle of Kalamata in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
A number of those attending had a direct connection to the region and WW2, two members of the Melbourne’s Kalamata community having witnessed the Anzac’s in Kalamata during the war. Also present was Ms Catherine Bell, the daughter of Private Syd Grant who had served in Greece in WW2 and been evacuated from the Mani in April 1941. Also present was Melbourne film-maker Nikita Ballas of Kalamata extraction whose new feature film will be screened as part of the coming Greek Film Festival.
Meeting advertisement by Paul Sougleris, 2016
Mr. Claven’s presentation explained the deep connection between the region and the Anzacs who came there in 1941 and beyond. He took the audience on an illustrated walk with the Anzacs across the Peloponnese.
Corinth Canal - the site of the famous battle in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He explained how the Peloponnese was the location of the last battles of the Greek campaign in WW2 – at Corinth Canal and on the Kalamata waterfront – and from where thousands of Allied troops where evacuated from the harbours and beaches at Tolos, Nafplio, Monemvasia and Kalamata.
Diggers like the Captain Edward “Weary” Dunlop, who would become a household name for his medical aid to those on the Burma-Thailand Railway, would make his way to Nafplio via Argos to await embarkation. Weary is remembered casually writing a letter home to his wife, sitting on a wall in Nafplio, as others dived for cover as German planes attacked. Australian nurses would be pictured resting in Argos’ cemetery, hiding from German air attacks.
Diggers and other Allied soldiers with local civilians in Kalamata, April 1941. Photograph Private Syd Grant, 1941. Reproduced courtesy of Ms Catherine Bell.
By the 26th April some 20,000 Allied troops, including thousands of Australians, had made their way to Kalamata’s harbor. The morning of the 27th April would see Allied warships and transport vessels evacuate the largest number of troops of all the evacuations from Greece, over 8,600 troops.
Mr Claven noted that two of the famous evacuees from Kalamata were Brigadier Stanley Savige and Horrie the Dog. Stanley was a Gallipoli veteran who had served on Lemnos in 1915 and had famously saved over 65,000 Christian refugees in northern Persia at the end of WW1. Horrie was the mascot of one of the Australian units serving in Greece. They had been evacuated from Kalamata on the Costa Rica, which would be sunk as it sailed to Crete. Horrie and the troops aboard the ship were all transferred to other ships. He would eventually be brought to Australia and end his days here.
Illustration of Sergeant Hinton attacking the German position at the battle of Kalamata waterfront, April 1941
Jim explained the little known battle of Kalamata waterfront, in which a hundred or so Allied troops – led by Victorian Captain Albert Gray and New Zealander Sergeant Jack Hinton – would attack a German advance party that had seized control of the harbor, overpowering them and taking many prisoners. Hinton would be awarded the Victoria Cross and Gray the military Cross for this action.
Women from the village of Trachila in the Mani helping Syd Grant and other Allied soldiers, April 1941. Photograph Private Syd Grant, 1941. Reproduced courtesy of Ms Catherine Bell.
The fall of Kalamata would see many Allied soldiers escape capture by moving off to the east and west of the city, being assisted by the villagers as they moved along the coast. Private Syd Grant and many others would be supported by the villagers at Trachila, Sellintisa and Limania on the Mani. A group of New Zealand soldiers would be helped to escape by the Mayor and villagers of Vassilitsa – Antonis Bizos - and those of nearby Koroni.
These diggers would never forget the generosity and bravery of the local of the region. Private Syd Grant would return to Australia and name his farm in the western district of Victoria Kalamata in their honour. And his photographs of the people of Kalamata and Trachila stand as a vivid record to their assistance to these diggers in need.
The region’s connection with the Anzacs would continue as the thousands left behind at Kalamata and the other embarkation beaches were captured and moved to the German prisoner of war camp established in Corinth’s old Greek Army barracks. Those captured sadly included thousands of Jewish members of the British Palestine Pioneer Corps. And late in 1941 and 1942, two Italian prisoners of war ships were torpedoed and those who survived were landed at Methone and Pylos respectively. One of those who survived – Australian Bill Rudd – lives today in Prahran.
One of the main streets in Kalamata where the Anzacs walked in April 1941. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He illustrated his presentation with photographs from 1941 and the same locations photographed by Jim during his field research in May earlier this year. Of particular interest were Jim’s contemporary photographs of the streets of Kalamata where the Anzacs walked and where they fought the German invasion of the city. He acknowledged the assistance of local historians - Panayiotis Andrianopoulos and Sotiris Theodoropoulos - and Pappaflessas’ Paul Sougleris in aiding his identification of these sites.
Ms Catherine Bell, the daughter of Private Syd Grant, addressed the meeting recounting how her father had thankfully recorded his memories of the war for his family and future generations. Together with his hundreds of photographs they are a unique record of not only Kalamata’s but also Greece’s connection to the Anzacs in WW2.
Mr. Claven ended his talk with an appeal for the creation of an Anzac trail across the Peloponnese, linking the various sites he has identified as an aid to future commemorative tourists to the region. This could include the erection of memorial plaques or information boards or new displays at the region’s museums, such as the Kalamata war Museum.
Ms Voula Pierakou-Vounelakis, witness to the battle of Kalamata and veteran of the resistance to the Axis occupation of Greece, Athens, May 2016. Photo Jim Claven 2016
He also mentioned that there are moves to create a new documentary, featuring interviews with survivors of Kalamata and the region during the war. During his research trip Jim had been introduced by Melbourne’s Rico Soublis and his sister Laila to Ms Voula Pierakou-Vounelakis and recorded her personal testimony of when the Germans came to Kalamata. This could form part of this exciting new documentary. There is already growing support for this project from veterans families in Israel and elsewhere and Mr Claven appealed to Melbourne’s Greek community to come together to support it.
This documentary, memorial boards, displays – all linked by on-line maps - could be form an Anzac commemorative trail and finally honor the service of all these Australian and Allied soldiers who came to defend Greece alongside their Greek allies, as well as the bravery of the people of the region who braved terrible retribution to help them.
Mr Paul Sougleris, Mr Jim Claven and Mr George Kallianis. Photo Jim Claven 2016
Mr Claven thanked all in Melbourne’s Peloponnese community who have encouraged and supported him to undertake this research – in particular Paul Sougleris, Jenny Krasopoulaki, Helen Horaitis of Trachila, Antonis Tsonis, Chris Ballas &Vanilla, George Iliopoulos, Peter Andrinopoulos, Jim Grivoskostopoulos, George Kallianis and Rico Soublis.
He also thanked Mr George Kallianis, President of Papaflessas for hosting the meeting and Paul Sougleris for his assistance with the presentation. Mr George Kallianis thanked Jim and all those who attended, especially Ms Catherine Bell and her husband James, who had travelled all the way from Lorne on the Great Ocean Road to take part.
Early next month Catherine Bell will donated her father’s collection of photographs and associated memorabilia to Victoria’s State Library. These will join earlier donations to the Library by the family of Nurse Evelyn Hutt, a nurse who served on Lemnos in 1915. The State library is keen to expand its collection of photographs from both world wars, especially those relating to Greece.

Media Reports
Thanks to both of Melbourne's Greek community newspapers - Neos Kosmos and Ta Nea - for covering the meeting and presentation.
To view the report from Neos Kosmos (in the Greek language) click here.
To view the report from Ta Nea (in the Greek language) click here.
To view the report from Ta Nea (in the English language) click here.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee