The reader is guided by the individual stories and photographs of some of the Australian soldiers who served in that desperate and fateful campaign. The soldiers featured include Private Syd Grant and Sergeant Alfred Huggins, both from Western Victoria.
The book comprises 335 pages of text and 13 maps, with a further 48 pages of archival photographs of the campaign. The latter are a feature of the book, reproducing nearly 100 original photographs of Greece during the campaign, from the collections of Syd and Alfred, two collections which the author assisted in their donation to Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria.
These amazing images are enhanced with nearly 100 photographs taken the author as he walked Greece’s Anzac trail over many years. The book is a feast for the eyes, telling the campaign story in personal terms, in words and pictures.
The book is a great addition to the literature of the campaign, a celebration of this important part in the Hellenic link to Australia’s Anzac tradition, following on from the author’s previous publication, Lemnos and Gallipoli Revealed.
Endorsements of the book:
“… My late father Syd never forgot the help of the Greek people during the campaign. He would be so glad that his story and photographs are being published and brought to a wider audience.” Catherine Bell, daughter of Private Syd Grant
“Honouring the courage and friendship that bonds us, vividly told through the story of my dear father’s story and that of the many others in this book, God bless Australia and Greece with ever deepening unity in democratic freedom.” Philip Huggins, son of Sergeant Alfred Huggins
Published by Melbourne’s Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas, the publication was supported by the Victorian Government through its Veteran’s Grants program, as well as many Greek-Australian community organizations (including Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas, the Central Pontian Association of Melbourne and Victoria “Pontiaki Estia”, the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and the Agios Dimitrios “Olympou” Philanthropic & Cultural League) along with many individual contributions (including the Grant and Huggins’ families).
To purchase contact Jim Claven via email - email@example.com.
Read the report in Neos Kosmos newspaper about the recent Papaflessas annual dinner dance on 27 May 2022, naming of Kalamata Place and the advance release of my new book Grecian Adventure - by clicking here. Read the report in the Greek Herald newspaper on the same event - by clicking here.
Contributors and Endorsements
In recent years, Melbourne historian Jim Claven has brought to public attention many previously untold aspects of the Australian military effort in Greece in both World Wars, notably through his epic Lemnos & Gallipoli Revealed: A Pictorial History of the Anzacs in the Aegean 1915-16, a magisterial volume which is the definitive work on the topic. In the course of his research, Claven has made contact with the families of many veterans, and in doing so, has uncovered priceless diaries and photo albums. True to his calling, Claven has secured these for future generations by helping the families place them with the State Library of Victoria. Now safely archived, Claven has delved into these historical treasures, and the result is Grecian Adventure: Greece 1941, Anzac Trail Stories and Photographs.
Above - “Athens, April 1941.” Syntagma Square, Athens. Private Kevin Byrne photographed in Athens’ main square, the Hellenic Parliament at rear, photograph taken by a local Greek photographer, April 1941. Kevin Byrne Collection, Photograph reproduced courtesy of Michael Byrne
The heart of the book beats with the photographs taken by Private Syd Grant and Sergeant Alfred Huggins, with a couple also by Private Kevin Byrne. These give a fabulous insight into the ‘lived experience’, not of Generals and politicians, but of ‘ordinary’ soldiers – not that there was anything ordinary about them or their adventures. From their departure from Egypt in March 1941, through to sight-seeing in Athens before the German invasion, mixing with enthusiastic and hospitable locals, and on to the campaign itself, complete with bombing raids and harrowing scenes of casualty and burial parties at work- all are caught by the sharp eyes of the Australian soldiers-cum war photographers. For this reason alone, Claven’s latest book can be commended without question to all those interested in the Anzac experience in Greece, and its importance to the enduring relationship between Australia and Greece.
But there is more even than this in Grecian Adventure. Claven has surrounded the original photographs of Grant, Huggins and Byrne with a mix of stories about the campaign in Greece,. Among the best of these are the two chapters that describe the extent of Australian community support for Greece following Mussolini’s invasion in October 1940. Here we get a real sense of the passionate support for Greece among ordinary Australians in this dark hour, and the remarkable fundraising efforts that resulted. This was a community mobilisation that has regrettably slipped somewhat from public mind, perhaps overshadowed by the crisis of Australia’s war in 1942 when the country itself was attacked by the Japanese. Claven does an excellent job in retrieving this feature of the wartime experience for the modern reader.
Above - Pinieos River Gorge, through which German armour advanced on the Anzac positions on April 18, 1941. Photograph Jim Claven 2013.
Returning to Greece and Crete, Claven provides wide-ranging accounts of individual battles, including the at Vevi that opened the fighting for the Anzacs, and that at Platamonas and Pinieos Gorge, where the entire Anzac fighting force narrowly escaped destruction. These chapters benefit enormously from Claven’s own travels across the length and breadth of Greece and Crete, a personal odyssey that brings contemporary freshness to wartime history.
In all, Grecian Adventure is a fine addition to the Greek campaign literature, well-worthy of the funding support it received from the Victorian Government’s grants program to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War Two. Grants of this kind are not made without community support, so a special commendation to the Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas, who sponsored the project, along with the other community organisations and individuals who contributed to its publication.
A graduate of both Macquarie and RMIT universities, Dr Peter Ewer is the author of many historical works including Forgotten Anzacs: The Campaign in Greece, 1941, published by Scribe, which drew on his many interviews with Australian and New Zealand service personnel who served in Greece during the campaign.
This review was recently published online by The Greek Herald, see the online version by clicking here.
Konstantinos Kalymnios - Review
Author, commentator and contributor to Neos Kosmos has written the following the review of Grecian Adventure, published on 18 June 2022.
You can read the online version of the above review by clicking here.
Pontiaki Estia - Grecian Adventure Book Supporters
A big thank you to all at the Pontiaki Estia for their support for my latest book, Grecian Adventure. Without the support of organizations like these, my book on the Hellenic link to Australia's Anzac story in WW2 would not have been published. Caught up with a few of the great team at the Estia to handover copies to the club - and enjoyed a coffee and spanakopita at Nikos in Fairfield. Its been great to work with the Estia team on a range of projects over the years, especially the George Treloar Memorial in Ballarat. Lovely to see Con and Vicki Tseprailidis - 3 July 2022
Vasilis Batsakis - Neos Kosmos reader
Today it was great to meet Vasilis Batsakis, who approached me at Nikos in
Fairfield to compliment me on my historical articles published in Neos
Kosmos. He is justly proud of his personal non-fiction historical library of
some 2,000 volumes. He was also keen to purchase a copy of my new book,
Grecian Adventure. I await his review. Such a pleasure to be approached by
readers who appreciate my writing. Thank you Vasilis - 3 July 2022
Neil Churches - Greek Campaign Veterans Son, Author and Tour Guide
Lovely to catch up recently with my good friend Neil Churches (above), Greek campaign veterans son, author and tour guide. Neil has been responsible for making sure that the story of his father's amazing WW2 war service is available for the appreciation of future generations. Ralph Churches served in the Greek campaign of 1941. After the fall of Tolo (near Nafplio in the Peloponnese), Ralph and a group of other Allied soldiers attempted to evade capture by sailing along the southern coast of Greece, only to be captured. He would experience the German POW camps at Corinth and Thessaloniki, the latter often being referred to by its former inmates as a Hell Camp. Ralph's desire to escape would continue ending in his successful escape through wartime Yugoslavia, orchestrating the escape of himself and over 100 other Allied escapers, assisted and lead by the local partisans over a dangerous 160 mile journey over the ALPs, pursued by German troops, eventually reaching Allied lines in Italy. Neil's re-telling of Ralph's wartime story - assisted by historical researcher Edmund Goldrick - has recently been published by Pan Macmillan, titled The Greatest Escape (below). The book is thoroughly researched, drawing on Yugoslav, UK, Australians and other important records. I recommend the book to all interested in the Australian experiences of the Greek campaign, the prisoner experience and those who escaped German captivity. A cracking read. Neil also leads regular tours of his father's escape route through Slovenia. Thank you to Neil for allowing my access to his father's account of his time in wartime Greece. It is through the dedication of many individuals like Neil that historians and researchers are assisted by the survival of these personal stories and records. I hope he enjoys my own new book, Grecian Adventure. Thank you Neil - June 2022
Phil Evans - Greek Campaign Veterans Son
Great to catch up today with my good friend and researcher Aron Segal at Oakleigh's Vanilla Cafe. Aron is the relative of a number of family members connected to Australia's Anzac story. One of these is his namesake and uncle Aron Wajcman who served with Palestine Pioneer Corps in the Greek campaign of 1941 - alongside the many Australian and other Allied soldiers who took part in the campaign. He was most likely captured following the fall of Kalamata at the end of April, then being held in various transit camps established by the Germans in Greece before being transferred to other POW camps in Europe, in particular Stalags 18A and 8B. Great company, discussing various historical subjects, as well as the usual book exchanges! Hope Aron likes my new book Grecian Adventure and its recounting of the capture of Allied soldiers and their POW experience in Greece - 23 June 2022.
Deb Stewart - Veterans Daughter and Supporter
Deb Elizabeth Stewart at this lovely local cafe in Murrumbenna, Levi, to present her with her copies of my new book Grecian Adventure. Deb, the grand-daughter of Australian nurse Evelyn Hutt who served on Lemnos in 1915-16, has been actively involved with our Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee for many years and has shared in some of my commemorative field trips to Greece's Anzac-related sites. She was also an early supporter of the Grecian Adventure book project. A big thank you to Deb for her support over many years - 21 June 2022
Catherine Bell and Rob Grant - Private Syd Grant's family
How wonderful it was for myself and partner Vicki Kyritsis to catch up over the weekend with Catherine Bell, Rob Grant and family - descendants of Greek campaign veteran Syd Grant. If it wasn't for my meeting up with Catherine all those years ago - thanks to my good friend Paul Sougleris of the Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas - I would never have been introduced to Syd's story and his amazing photographic archive - and it was with the support of the Syd Grant family that we were able to finally publish Syd's story and photographs in my new book Grecian Adventure. We had a long chat about Syd and the book, the new commemorative plaque we have created and hope to install at the village of Trahila in the Mani from where Syd escaped capture by the Germans - as well as discussing Syd's of his travels to High Street Northcote in search of his beloved Kalamata olives - and his love of Scotch whisky! And behind the photograph of me with Catherine and Rob - is the iconic photograph of Syd's soldier settlement farm he named Kalamata, in recognition of those who helped him during the Greek campaign of 1941. A big thank you to Catherine and partner James for a lovely afternoon, sumptuous lunch and great company! Looking forward to catching up again soon - including at the formal book launch later in the year - maybe enjoying some olives and single malt in Syd's honour! - 19 June 2022Craig Tolson - Editor/Reader of Grecian Adventure
George Dalidakis today, to exchange books and stories about both our inquiries into Greek and Australian history - as well as record albums! Brought back memories of my visit to the southern Cretan village of Sfakia during the annual Anzac commemorations, where I came across his published history of Sfakia, a great find and great book. Thank you George for your efforts to preserve the history of this region, important to both Greeks and Australians. Gave me the opportunity to discuss what I call in my book Grecian Adventure "the song of Sfakia", the song Now is The Hour that was reportedly sung by the Allied troops as the last barge departed the harbour in 1941, marking the end of the Allied defence of Crete - and the beginning of the German occupation and Cretan resistance - 16 June 2022
Amazing to catch up with the Ballis clan today at the Ambrosia Cafe in Huntingdale - to thank Andrew (above at right) for his help with my new book Grecian Adventure and to meet his cousin & former Monash University academic Harry (above at left) and his wife. Harry was keen to obtain both my Hellenic Anzac publications (including Lemnos & Gallipoli Revealed). Looking forward to helping Harry with his various interesting projects, covering the Asia Minor Hellenic experience and the story of Australian Asia Minor refugee helpers the Loch family and many more! A real pleasure for me - 15 June 2022 Arch Bregiannis - Field Research Contributor
Great to catch up with young Arch Bregiannis (above), one of my helpers in
my research for my new book Grecian Adventure, contributing important new
information on the location of the remains of Hellenic Anzac Gunner James
Zampelis and his comrades who were killed near Mournies on Crete during the
battle following the German invasion in May 1941. A big thank you to Arch
for taking the time out of his trip to Greece a few years back to search the
ground for this important part of the Hellenic Anzac story. His photographic
research is part of one the key chapters of the book. This along with my own
and other contributors (such as Eva Gaganis Gotsis and Paul Sougleris)
research has now been passed on to the relevant Australian military
authorities. Bravo Arch, was my pleasure to present him with a copy of
Grecian Adventure at one of Huntingdale's iconic Greek cake shops, Sweet
Heart Cakes! - 14 June 2022
Peter Vial - Greek Campaign Veteran's Son
Great to catch up with Peter Vial, the proud son of Greek campaign veteran Captain Robert Vial (pictured in the original painting by Australian war artist Sir William Dargie on the wall), the decorated Australian officer who made his escape from German capture along the Mani coast following the fall of Kalamata at the end of April 1941. Robert was a great swimmer and saved a number of Allied soldiers from drowning during escape attempts by sea. He was one of the over 200 Allied soldiers to be successfully embarked off the Mani - along with Private's Syd Grant and George Foot - and was decorated for his efforts with the award of DSO. My new book - Grecian Adventure - would have been much the poorer without Peter having shared his father's story with me. Thank you Peter. Read my account of Robert Vial's Greek campaign story by clicking here.- June 2022.
Felicia Leonardos - Allied civilian helper's daughter
So lovely to catch up with Felicia Leonardos (above) from Evia and present
her with a copy of my new book Grecian Adventure, stories and photographs of
the Australians in Greece in 1941, which was enriched by her telling the
story of her father Stamatos Katsatos who as a young man assisted Allied
soldiers evade and escape German capture in Greece during WW2. A big thank
you to people like Felicia who have generously shared with me their family
stories of Greece in WW2 - 7 June 2022
Angelo Kalomiris - German Occupation Witness
Lovely to meet up with Angelo Kalomiris (above right) and his grand-daughter
Angeliki (above left) at Oakleigh's Ambrosia Cafe to present him with a copy
of my new book Grecian Adventure, stories and photos from the 1941 Greek
campaign. My recounting of Lemnos' part in that campaign couldn't have been
told without Angelo's support, as he told me his experience on Lemnos as a
young boy during the German occupation. A big thank you to Angelo for
sharing his stories with us. And of course he is a fan of my earlier book,
Lemnos & Gallipoli Revealed! - 8 June 2022
David & Philip Huggins - Greek Campaign Veteran's Sons
With Greek-Australian journalist Dimitris Konstantinidis (above centre) and
the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee's Malcolm MacDonald (above
right), discussing the Hellenic link to Anzac while presenting Dimitris with
copies of my Grecian Adventure and Lemnos & Gallipoli at Fairfield's
Nikos Cakes - May 2022
Papaflessas Pre-Publication Briefing