Tenedos Island, April 2015. Photo Jim Claven 2015
Lemnos was the main forward base for the Gallipoli campaign, bringing tens of thousands of Allied troops and hundreds of ships to this beautiful Island in Greece's northern Aegean.
Researching the role of Lemnos and having been fortunate to have visit the Island over recent years has only strengthened my resolve to tell the story of Lemnos and Gallipoli - and especially for the over1,200 Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen (as well Egyptian labourers and Turkish POW's) who lie buried there in its three war cemeteries.
Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos, 1915. AWM
Last year, in April 2015, prior to Anzac Day, I fulfilled a long held dream of visiting the other northern Aegean Islands that played an important role in the Gallipoli campaign - Imbros and Tenedos. Accompanying me was my friend Chris Mingos, one of our Committee members and whose father hailed from from the former Greek community of Asia Minor, the village of Reisdere on the Chesme peninsula opposite Chios.
Overwhelmingly Greece populated, these two Islands had been joined to Greece in 1912 during the Balkan Wars. Both Island's were critical in their own way to the whole Gallipoli campaign.
Although Lemnos' great and safe harbour of Mudros ensured its primacy as the forward supply and hospital base for Gallipoli, Imbros and Tenedos in their own ways were brought into the Gallipoli campaign's in 1915. Greece offered all three Island's to the Allies as bases for the coming Gallipoli campaign.
Standing at the entrance to the Dardanelles, Imbros and Tenedos - along with nearby Lemnos - have a long history stretching back to the era of Greek mythology and legend, from Homer and beyond. The Islands were part of the Greek settlements that sprang up along the Asia Minor coast as Greek sailors and traders spread out from the Greek heartland.
Imbros Island, April 2015. Photo Jim Claven 2015
Imbros was the location of Allied commander General Hamilton's headquarters, the rendeavous point for Anzac troops as they sailed from Lemnos to Anzac Cove and the where the Allied war correspondents were based. Imbros' Kephalos Bay saw Allied ships anchor as they sailed to and from Gallipoli, Lemnos and Egypt.
The Allied Base on the shores of Imbros' Kephalos Bay, 1915. AWM
For Australians, it also was the location of the 1st Australian Field Bakery that supplied fresh bread to the diggers on the peninsula, transported by the wagons of the Australian Army Service Corps. One wonders if they also made lamingtons or scones! 25th Casualty Clearing Station commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie was based here, as was the 1st Australian Field Artillery Battery temporarily.
Photographs of Australian war correspondents Charles Bean and Philip Schuler walking on Imbros and photographing its Byzantine fortresses lie in the Australian War Memorial.
And as the war drew to a close the waters off Imbros saw the last great naval battle of the war in the Middle East - the naval battle of Imbros.
Byzantine Ruins, Imbros, 1915. AWM
Byzantine Ruins, Imbros, 2015. Photo Jim Claven 2015
Tenedos was occupied by the Allies along with Imbros and Lemnos. The Allied naval commanders, first Admiral de Roebeck and then Admiral Carden,were often based atTenedos, holding many conferences there. The base for an important Allied airbase for the Captain Samson and the Royal Naval Air Service that flew reconnaissance and bombing raids over Gallipoli, Tenedos remained an Allied base until the end of the First World War, as was Lemnos and Imbros.
Local Tenedos residents greet Venzelos in Tenedos harbour, 1915. IWM
The great Greek leader Venezelos visited Tenedos in 1915 to the cheers of the local population.
Allied soldiers would recall Tenedos’ part in Greek history and myth when they came in 1915. A statue of the goddess Aphrodite was unearthed by an Allied soldier when digging a trench. One wrote of “Tenedos, dear of old Apollo” and that Homer’s snakes had been replaced 3,000 years later by anti-submarine cables.And it was from Tenedos that Allied Commander Sir Ian Hamilton issued in May his statement praising the “audacity” and valour” of the Anzacs at Gallipoli.
Captain Samson of the Royal Naval Air Service on Tenedos, 1915. IWM
Neos Kosmos Articles
Over the past few weeks Australia's Neos Kosmos has published two articles tyhat I have wirtten followinf my research visits to Imbros and Tenedos. If you missed these publications, you can view them by clicking the links below.
To read my article on Imbros - A Voyage to Imbros - click here.
To read my article on Tenedos - To Tenedos they came: Palm Sunday on Tenedos - click here.
Thanks to Neos Kosmos for publishing my stories and bringing them to wider audience.
Modern Imbros and Tenedos
It was a pleasure to visit both Imbros and Tenedos and to walk in the footsteps of those Anzac and other Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who made them there whom for the months of the Gallipoli campaign. It was great to be welcomed by the locals, especially the remaining Greek population of both Islands.
While the exempt from the population exchanges that followed the Greco-Turkish war of the early 1920's, the Greek population of both Island's has dwindled, especially since the 1960's and 1970's, many former residents making their new homes in Greece and beyond, including Australia.
Anyone who visits the Islands on an Anzac pilgrimage will be rewarded by a visit to these villages - to the Byzantine ruins of Imbros, the classical remains on Tenedos, the village of Aya Theodoros at its Nostos Cafe on Imbros and the main Church in Tenedos town.
Lemnos viewed from Imbros. Photo Jim Claven 2015
The Essential Gallipoli Tour - Lemnos, Imbros, Tenedos and Gallipoli
I encourage all those who visit Gallipoli to make a little more effort and travel to Imbros and Tenedos - as well as Lemnos - and have a coffee in the Nostos Cafe or a tsipouro in the villages of Tenedos!
Your pilgrimage will honour the Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who came there in 1915, walking in their streets and villages, befriending the locals, enjoying their hospitality and some remaining buried on Lemnos' war cemeteries or in the waters surrounding these beautiful Islands in the northern Aegean. As you sail around the Islands, you will feel the winds and warming sunlight that the Anzac's wrought about all those years ago and you will approach Gallipoli as the Anzac's did - by sea, from the Islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos.
Thanks to all who encouraged me to travel to these often "forgotten" Gallipoli campaign Islands, including Sophie Arvanitou from Melbourne's Tenedos community.