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

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Anders Lassen - The Liberator of Thessaloniki - to be honoured in Melbourne

Photo Jim Claven 2017

Recently members of Melbourne’s Greek community met with the Honorary Consul General of Denmark in Victoria, Mr Jan Ravnholt, to commence planning for a major commemoration of one of the Second World War’s lesser known heroes – Major Anders Lassen, VC, MC and Two Bars.
The meeting brought together myself, Mr Iakovos Garivaldis, OAM, Vice-President of the Thessaloniki Association “The White Tower” and Mr Tony Tsourdalakis, Chairman of Melbourne’s Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council.
Over the past few years, as a historian, I have been fascinated by the story of this brave Danish soldier who helped liberate Greece in 1944.
Danish-born Anders Lassen was a decorated Special Forces officer in the Second World War. He had taken part in many successful raids on German occupied Europe as part of British commando and Special Boat Section (SBS) units, before moving to lead Allied raiding operations harassing Axis-occupying forces across the Aegean throughout 1943 and 1944.
Anders Lassen at right with members of his SBS unit on the Aegean Coast, c1943. Photo IWM
In late October 1944, Major Anders and forty soldiers of his SBS unit – including Greek soldiers of the Ιερός Λόχος or Sacred Band came to Greece’s second city to observe German occupation forces and link up with the local Greek Resistance.
Taking the initiative, Anders led his forces, supported by the Greek Resistance, in attacking the remaining German forces in the city, forcing their departure by the morning of the 30th October. Thessaloniki was liberated and the German plans to destroy the city’s important infrastructure were averted. The people of the city joined in celebrating their freedom, embracing and garlanding Anders and his men with flowers.
Celebrations in Thessaloniki following its liberation, 1944. Photo web
Anders went on to serve on Crete and then in the Italian campaign, being killed during a raiding operation in north-eastern Italy in the final weeks of the Second World War. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the only non-Commonwealth soldier to be so awarded in the Second World War.
Photo Jim Claven 2017
The meeting resolved to hold a commemorative event later this year at the Danish Club and Consulate in Melbourne to honour the service of Anders Lassen. The event will include an historical presentation by myself and the donation of a specially commissioned commemorative gift to the Danish Consul. This gift will then be on permanently display at the Danish Club and Consulate in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Senior diplomatic representatives from both Greece and Denmark are expected to be in attendance at the event, as well as representatives of Melbourne’s Danish and Hellenic communities.
Mr Tsourdalakis took the opportunity to present Mr Ravnholt with a copy of Dina Gerolymou’s The Battle of Crete – The Untold Stories as well as the Council’s program of commemorative events for 2017. He also invited Mr Ravnholt to take part in the Council’s wreath-laying service at the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday, 27th May 2017.
Mr Garivaldis said that the Thessaloniki Association is committed to celebrating the history of Thessaloniki, Melbourne’s Sister-City.
He added that over the years, the Association had hosted events commemorating the Anzac link to Thessaloniki across both World Wars.
“Thessaloniki – along with the rest of Greece –suffered the long night of occupation during the Second World War. Its vibrant Jewish community was devastated by the German implementation of the holocaust in Greece. The service of Anders Lassen and his men – working along with the Greek resistance and soldiers of the Greek Sacred Band – helped bring this terrible period to an end. We hope this small commemoration will bring this story to a new generation.”
Mr Tsourdalakis said it was an honour for the Council to assist in recognising the contribution of Anders Lassen to the liberation of Greece in 1944.
“Our Council has been working over the years to ensure that many connections between Greece and the Anzacs are commemorated both in Australia and Greece. Recognising the service of Anders Lassen brings this story to a new level – bringing together Melbourne’s Hellenic and Danish communities.”
Mr Ravnholt welcomed the planned commemoration which would be the first collaboration between the Hellenic and Danish communities in Melbourne. He hoped that it would be the beginning of an annual collaboration between Melbourne’s Hellenic and Danish communities.
“Hellenes and Danes have made a major contribution to Australia. I look forward to working with Jim Claven, the Thessaloniki Association “The White Tower” and the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council to commemorate Anders Lassen and this important link between Greece and Denmark.”
The meeting concluded with a toast to Anders Lassen and Hellenic Danish friendship over a glass of good ice-cold Danish Akvavit – not unlike Cretan raki – and the shout of Yassas!
The commemorative event will take place in coming weeks.
For more information on Anders Lassen see my earlier post by clicking here.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
Member, Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

South Yarra Primary School's Lemnos 1915 connection - Herbert Claxton

Grave stone of Herbert Claxton, East Mudros Military Cemetery. Photo Jim Claven 2015
South Yarra Primary School sits on the edge of the great expanse of Fawkner Park – that’s why its called The School in the Park. It is one of the early schools established in Victoria, its Education Department number being 583. The school has a link to Lemnos and Gallipoli in 1915 - just one of the many Hellenic links to Anzac.
One of the 148 graves on Lemnos contains the remains of a former pupil of South Yarra Primary School. His name is Herbert Frederick Claxton.
Herbert was born in nearby Prahran in April 1892. His brother wrote after the war that Herbert had attended the School and this would probably been for a few years around the turn of the century. He became a coach builder and then a munitions worker. By the time he enlisted on 11th May, Herbert had moved to Balmain in Sydney, NSW. Yet his family connections remained in Melbourne. On his enlistment form Herbert recorded his eldest brother Reginald as his next of kin and he was still in Melbourne, living in the nearby suburb of Richmond.
Attestation Paper of Herbert Claxton. NAA
Herbert enlisted as Private 1413 in the 19th Australian Infantry Battalion’s D Company. Herbert and his Battalion sailed from Melbourne’s Princes Pier in Port Melbourne aboard the troopship Ceramic in June 1915.
He landed at Gallipoli and would take part in the battles raging on the peninsula. He was wounded at Gallipoli on 2nd September, after the terrible August Offensives. He had received wounds to his leg and scalp and was soon evacuated from Gallipoli.
Unfortunately he died while aboard the Hospital Ship Maheno. His body was taken to nearby Lemnos Island and buried in the expanding Allied military cemetery that had been established at East Mudros. Army Chaplain E Raymond conducted the burial service. He was only 23 years old.
The nearby suburbs of Prahran, Windsor and Richmond would become home to many new migrants from Greece after the Second World War, joining the earlier Hellenic migrants who had settled there already. Their children would attend local schools, like South Yarra Primary School. As a former Hawksburn Primary and Prahran Secondary School student myself I can attest to the vibrancy of the areas new Hellenic residents.
Most of these Hellenes – some even coming from Lemnos itself - would have been unaware that a former pupil of South Yarra Primary School had come to this Greek Island in the northern Aegean and was buried there, never to return to his family back in Melbourne.
The South Yarra Primary School community can be proud of its former pupil – Herbert Frederick Claxton – an Anzac buried on Lemnos.
Lest we forget.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

8 September 1944 – The Murder of A Herione – Lela Karayianni, the Bouboulina of the Resistance

Mrs Lela Karayianni in 1944. Picture from Chris Jecchinis, Beyond Olympus, Harrap 1960
Today we honor Mrs Lela Karayianni – known as the Boubolina of the Greek Resistance.
Mrs Karayiani ran one of the most fashionable boutiques in Athens, which was able to survive even during the early days of the occupation. It was a cosmetics business in Patision Street, where she mixed and prepared her own lotions and creams.
In the opinion of Allied SOE agents sent to Greece during the occupation to aid the resistance, she was considered one of the most pro-Allied and anti-Axis agents. Behind the beautiful satin curtains at the rear of her boutique, information on developments in the hinterland and details of German troop movements was passed on and exchange among the resistance. She directed the work of many resistance agents and spies in Athens – all dedicated to removing the hated occupier from Greece.
One member of her resistance circle – Chris Jecchinis – remembered her.
“She was an imposing woman … handsome, with big, beautiful eyes. Her posture was proud and erect, and she looked a true descendent of her great-grand mother Bouboulina,” the legendary heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. She named ger three sons Byron, George and Nelson.
In early 1943 she was arrested by the Germans and taken to the infamous Haithari concentration camp near Athens. She had been betrayed by a Greek collaborator. As he appealed for her to talk, she slapped him. She would be beaten and starved. Even her children were tortured in an effort to get her to talk,
Despite torture by the SS, she refused to divulge any information regarding the resistance or the agents she had helped.
She was taken to a pine grove, beyond Daphni, on the 8th September 1944. As she was taken out to be shot with other women prisoners, she began to sing and they all joined in. Then she shouted – “No fish can live on land, nor Greek can live as a captive.” As the rain began to fall, she was shot by a German firing squad.

Lest we forget

For more information read Chris Jecchinis, Beyond Olympus: The Thrilling Story of the “Train-Busters” in Nazi-occupied Greece, Harrap, 1960.

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
Member, Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Committee

Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee - 2017 Annual Report

Photo Jim Claven
Recently the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee held its AGM at Melbourne’s Greek Centre.
The last twelve months have seen our Committee undertake a range of important activities, building on our good work over the past few years. Some of the activities we have undertaken include:
  • Our annual commemorative service, which took place on 12th August 2017, with over 200 attendees and included an address by Col (Ret) Jan McCarthy of the Nurses Sub-Branch of the RSL (Victoria). We also read out the communication from the Lemnos Mayor. We were glad to welcome descendents of soldiers and nurses who served on Lemnos including Dr David Weedon, Judith Gunnarson, Richard Hall and Mervyn Williamson.
  • The naming of Lemnos Square, the location of our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park.
  • A commemorative wreath laying at the grave of Lemnos veterans Clarice Daley and Ernest Lawrence at St Kilda Cemetery.
  • Participating in the commemorative service held on Lemnos on the 20-21st April 2017, with a wreath laying and speech.
  • Progressing our major new commemorative publication.
  • Assisting in the creation and installation of the new Hellenic Anzac Commemorative Plaque and Olive Tree at the Victorian Parliament.
  • Welcoming representatives of the Hellenic Armed Forces who were guided on a visit to our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial at Albert Park.
  • Taking part in a number of other commemorative services, laying wreaths at Melbourne’s Nurses Memorial Centre’s Anzac Service, the Oakleigh RSL Anzac day Dawn Service, the Hellenic RSL’s OXI Day service, the Sydney Greek Independence Day service, the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council’s commemorative service at the Domain and the Shrine and the Society of Kalamata Battle of Kalamata Commemorative Service at the Hellenic Memorial at the Domain.
  • The display of our Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition and presentation at the Eltham Library.
  • The Secretary making historical presentations through the year, including presentations in Kilmore, Eltham and Port Melbourne.
  • The Secretary making a commemorative submission to the Lemnos Municipality for the restoration of the name of the Australian Pier at Mudros (originally erected by Australian soldiers in March 1915).
  • The Secretary making two other commemorative submissions this year – to the South East Cemeteries Trust seeking great recognition of the Daley-Lawrence grave at St Kilda Cemetery, to the Wattle Park Lone Pine Memorial authorities seeking the erection of plaque recognition of the role of Lemnos and its nurses in the Lone Pine battle.
  • Information stalls at both the Greek Community Antipodes Festival in Lonsdale Street as well as the Oakleigh Glendi.
  • The Secretary continuing to promote Lemnos in various media articles and through our weblog and social media. Some of the highlights were:
    • The Neos Kosmos’ publication of the Australian Pier at Mudros story;
    • The UK-based Gallipoli Association’s publication of the article on Sister Evelyn Hutt’s photographs of Lemnos; and,
    • The promotion of our activities on the BBC Scotland’s Gaelic Language program.
Photo Peter Ford
This year also saw the erection of two memorials in recognition of the role of Lemnos in the Gallipoli campaign – one in Sydney and the other in Adelaide.
Again, we have ended the year in a good financial position. We thank all who have made donations to our cause or who have purchased our commemorative badges.
Photo Peter Ford
The year ahead looks again to be a busy one, with the Executive pursuing a range of new and exciting activities, as well as our regular ones. Some of the coming activities flagged at the AGM were:
  • Our annual commemorative service will again be held at noon on the first Saturday following the 8th August. This falls on 11th August 2018. We are looking to again broaden out the appeal of our Memorial by inviting diplomatic representatives of the various nations whose soldiers and nurses served on Lemnos in 1915. Watch this space.
  • Next year will see the centenary of the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on Lemnos in October 1918, ending the war with the Ottoman Empire. We are keen to promote the commemoration of this important event both in Australia, Greece and overseas. We have already written to the Lemnos Municipality on this issue. Watch this space.
  • The launch of our new Lemnos Gallipoli commemorative publication. A major launch event will be planned for this coming event.
  • We hope the year ahead will see the realisation of our proposal to restore the name of Lemnos’ Australian pier at Mudros.
  • We have proposed the exhibition of our Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition in the Victorian Parliament’s Queens Hall.
  • We have also proposed the gifting by our Committee to the RSL (Victoria) of a framed reproduction of the famous archival photograph of the Australian nurses arriving on Lemnos in August 1915. This may coincide with a similar donation of another WW2 photograph by the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council. Discussions have already been undertaken for this event to take place in 2018 at a date to be confirmed.
  • Discussions are underway to hold a joint commemorative service at the Venizelos Memorial in Brunswick to honour the connection between Lemnos, Gallipoli and Crete, through the role of Venizelos in proposing Lemnos as the base for the campaign and Gyparos and his Cretan and Asia Minor volunteers who served on Lemnos and at Gallipoli. This is planned to occur in March 2018.Watch this space.
  • There is a proposal that the Victorian Trade Union movement commemorate those of their members who served on Lemnos and at Gallipoli at our Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial on Anzac Day or at an alternative date. Watch this space.
  • A proposal has been made to UNIBIC, producers of the annual Anzac commemorative Biscuit Tin to reproduce the photograph of the Australian nurses arriving on Lemnos in 1915. We hope this will appear in the New Year.
  • The Secretary will continue to make presentations on Lemnos and Gallipoli. Two current invitations have been accepted for Box Hill and Foster.
Photo Jim Claven
The AGM thanked the outgoing Executive who has worked so hard to make our activities such a success. For those who are retiring, we wish them well and look forward to their working with us in the future. The AGM elected our Executive for the year. These are:
  • President: Lee Tarlamis
  • Vice-President: Christina Despoteris
  • Secretary: Jim Claven
  • Treasurer: Arlene Bennett
  • General Members: Deb Stewart, Terry Kanelos, Ange Kenos, Nik Kydas and Bruce Mildenhall.
This is the first time we have held our meetings at the Greek Centre and we are grateful to Melbourne’s Greek community for the opportunity to hold our meetings at this great location. We look forward to holding our future meetings there.
Photo Jim Claven
Thanks again to all our members and supporters who have made this year such a successful and memorable one. The Executive and Committee look forward to working with you all again throughout the year ahead.

Lee Tarlamis, President
Jim Claven, Secretary