|VAD Nurse Vera Brittain|
Vera had volunteered to served with the Voluntary Aid Detachments of nurses and untrained assistants who helped with non-medical work in wards and on hospital ships. She had already served in military hospitals in England when she received her first foreign posting. In September 1916, Vera was ordered to board the Hospital Ship Britannic on a voyage from England to Malta and the Mediterranean. This voyage would bring her to Lemnos.
In early October 1916, Vera's hospital ship dropped anchor at Mudros Harbour in Lemnos. After passing the mined entrance to the harbour, she reported in her diary that there were still many battleships in the harbour and the surrounding hills remained dotted with various camps - nine months after the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula.
|Greek Red Cross representatives pay their respects at the Canadian nurses graves - visited by Vera Brittain in 1916 - during the Anzac Day service at Portianou Military Cemetery, Lemnos, April 2013. Photograph Jim Claven|
While on the Island, Vera heard about the these two Canadian nursing sisters buried at Portianou Military Cemetery. She was much moved by their story and the views of the Island and the Aegean. She wrote in her diary that the vision of Lemnos and the Aegean would remain with her much longer than many other experiences of the war.
As a result she wrote the following poem - The Sisters Graves on Lemnos:
In 2012, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a documentary on the life of Vera Brittain, including readings from her writings and interviews with her husband and daughter, Lord Shirley Williams, the former MP and Minister. Click here to listen to it.
There is also a reading of this poem on youtube, to listen click here.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee