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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

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

New Book - Jim Claven's Grecian Adventure - Anzac Trail Stories and Photographs - Greece 1941

Jim Claven’s Grecian Adventure: Anzac Trail Stories and Photographs – Greece 1941 takes the reader on a journey across Greece in April and May 1941, following the Anzac trail throughout the Greek campaign, from the northern Greek battlefields of Vevi and Servia, through Brallos and Corinth, to Kalamata and the Mani, and on to Crete.

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 -

Launch Reports

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

Dr Peter Ewer - Book Review

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.

Above - “Young women waving paper flags for the "Greece War Victims Appeal" on the 14th February, 1941”, The Argus (Melbourne), 1941. State Library of Victoria, Collection, Reference H98.100/3448.

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.

SBS Interview - Jim Claven with SBS' Pano Apostolou on the Grecian Adventure

A big thank you to Pano Apostolou and SBS Radio for interviewing me about my new book Grecian Adventure. Click on the link here to listen to the interview.

Municipality of Pylos-Nestoros

On 18 July 2022 visited our two commemorative memorials at Pylos and Methone - dedicated to two
separate WW2 naval and Allied POW tragedies - and great to see them looking good. Took the opportunity to present the Mayor of Pylos-Nestoros (represented by one of the staff - pictured above) with a copy of my new book - Gecian Adventure - and discussed future commemorative services at Pylos and Methone as part of future (hopefully next year) Anzac commemorative tours across Greece. Remembered the great events organised by the municipality at the plaque unveilings in 2018. A big thank you to both Melbourne's Papaflessas and Navarino clubs for supporting my proposal for the plaques all those years ago, especially George Iliopoulos and George Saratsiotis. Can only think how proud of you all the late veteran Sapper Bill Rudd felt at the creation of these plaques which he had hoped for over many years. You have also created a legacy for Australia in your home towns in Greece - which will soon by joined by other commemorative plaques commemorating Greece's Anzac trail. Bravo!

John Irwin - Anzac Documentary Film-maker

Good to catch with my good friend, documentary filmaker and fellow researcher, New Zealand's John William Irwin - over a coffee with Cretan author George Dalidakis - discussing the Hellenic link to Australia's Anzac story and all things Crete. John has conducted a lot of original research on Crete and other locations in Greece, capturing important first-hand testimony of WW2 as well as surveying vital NZ archival photographs and records. He has already produced a number of important documentaries on the subject, including in how the war impacted on the women of Crete. Looking forward to working with John and Dr Peter Ewer on an important new documentary project - watch this space. Took the opportunity to present John with a copy of my new book, Grecian Adventure. Safe travels John - 4 July 2022.

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 be able to send a copy of my new book Grecian Adventure to my good friend and fellow researcher, Philip Evans. Philip was so gracious to have shared his own family story of the Greek campaign with me many years ago and we have been fortunate to have been able to meet up in Greece to walk the ground where the campaign was fought. Philip 's father was Private Arthur Evans from Western Australia, who served during the campaign with 2/2nd Army Field Workshops, 5th Recovery Section. Arthur's Greek campaign came to an end on the shores of Tolo on the Peloponnese, near Nafplio. He was one of the estimated 1,300 Allied soldiers who were captured on the 28 April after the battle fought on the outskirts of the town and its later fall to the Germans. Arthur then experience the long night of imprisonment as a POW first in Greece then in the camps established across German-occupied Europe. A few years back I was able to meet up with Philip at Tolo near the beach where his father's Greek campaign came to an end. Philip is a member of the UK-based Greek Campaign Veterans Brotherhood. Thanks to Philip for sharing his family story with me - 27 June 2022

Aron Segal - Greek Campaign Veterans Relative

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.

As Aron said: "Great to catch up today and to get my hands on your latest book which I will read with much interest. To fill in some of the gaps, my uncle was transferred to Stalag 18A in Volfsberg, Austria arriving there on 1 July 1941 where he became POW 4875. Following intervention by the Red Cross, he along with other POWs were transferred to Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf in Upper Silesia on 1st August 1941. He was liberated by the American 7th Army on 2nd April 1945 at Bad Orb, near Frankfurt-A-Main after having survived the 960 km Long March from Stalag 8B. Photograph of Aron Wajcman taken on his arrival at Volfsberg."

Deb Stewart - Veterans Daughter and Supporter

Great to catch up with my good friend 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 2022

Craig Tolson - Editor/Reader of Grecian Adventure

Post-Bloomsday catch-up with one of my editor/readers in the production of Grecian Adventure - my old friend, literary officiando and sparring-partner Craig Tolson - over a great Brendan Behan-esque late lunch of freshly shucked oysters washed down with lovely stout - what better way to celebrate his important contribution to the publication of Grecian Adventure and discuss Homer, Joyce and other great contributions to literature! - 17 June 2022

George Dalidakis - The Historian of Sfakia

Lovely to catch up with my good friend 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

Andrew & Harry Ballis - Fellow Enthusiasts on the Hellenic Anzac Trail

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

Great to catch up today with Phillip (left above) and David (right above) Huggins, son's of Greek campaign veteran Sergeant Alfred Huggins, one of the diggers featured in my new book - Grecian Adventure - whose amazing collection of campaign photographs feature in the book, alongside those of Private Syd Grant. It's been a long and fruitful journey bringing the book to publication. Great to be able to present them with copies of the book. Thanks to the Huggins family for their support - 6 June 2022

Steve Gotsis - Papaflessas President

The author presenting Steve Gotsis - President of the Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas (Melbourne & Victoria) - with a copy of Grecian Adventure at the advance release of the book at the Papaflessas annual independence dinner dance in Melbourne. The book couldn't have been produced and published without the sponsorship and support from Papaflessas - 27 May 2022

Konstantinos Kalymnos - Commentator, Writer and Author

The author presenting an advance copy of Grecian Adventure to celebrated Melbourne author, writer and commentator Neos Kosmos contributor Konstantinos Kalyminios (above right) - May 2022

Dimitris Konstantinidis - Greek journalist

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

Was a pleasure of mine to attend the Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas' AGM held at the weekend as an observer and to discuss and show them the final draft of my latest book - The Grecian Adventure: Stories and photograph from Greece's WW2 Anzac trail. Supported by the Victorian Government and the Brotherhood this will be launched as a major contribution to our communities commemoration of the anniversary of the Greek campaign. Photographs of myself with President Ms Steve Gotsis, member Mr Katsambanis and academic Ms Georgia-Juliana Charpantidou (Panteion University in Athens). Bravo to all involved - February 2021

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