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

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Digger of the Day - Horsham's Private Syd Grant of the 2/8th Battalion and his escape from captivity today 75 years ago

Local villagers from Trachila who aided Syd Grant as he waited to be evacuated near Kalamata, April 1941. Syd Grant Collection.
Sydney Grant (known as Syd) was born in Horsham (Victoria) in May 1917. By 1939 Syd’s occupation was as a woolclasser. He was 22 years and 8 months old when he enlisted at Horsham in the 2nd AIF in December 1939. He served with the 2/8th Battalion, 6th Division Ammunition Company.
Syd and the Battalion took part in the early phase of the campaign in North Africa, capturing Bardia, Tobruk and Derna in January 1941 – great victories for the men of the 2nd AIF. Syd then sailed with the 2/8th from Alexandria to Greece on 11th March 1941.
Syd took part in the 2/8th campaign in Greece - serving at the battle of Vevi in April and the actions of the defensive withdrawal that followed – the Servia Pass, Kozani, Larissa, Thermopylae, Domokos Pass, Ellason, Lamia, Levadia, Corinth Canal to Kalamata.
As the main Allied evacuations from Kalamata drew to an end towards the end of April, Syd was temporarily made a Prisoner of War on the Kalamata beachfront.
But after 24 hours Syd and others managed to escape, eventually reaching to the village of Trachila 40-50 miles to the south east of Kalamata, where other Allied troops had gathered.
The villagers of Trachila welcomed and fed Syd and the other Allied soldiers with his party, hiding him in a local Greek Orthodox Church. in Syd's photograph above, Syd wrote that they were:
"Two of the many Greek girls who fed us with bread and water standing at the entrance of an old church at Trachila, Greece 30 April 1941."
Syd was eventually evacuated along with another 68 Australian soldiers (in a total of 110 Allied troops, including members of the Palestine Labour Corps by British naval vessels. Syd was embarked on the Destroyer HMS Hero at 2.30am on 1st May 1941. Others embarked aboard other vessels, including the HMS Kimberley.
Syd’s party arrived at Suda Bay on Crete. According to his memoirs, he spent a short time at Nea Khorion– as revealed in his photographs of the village - where he witnessed enemy bombardments. Syd was evacuated to Port Said arriving in early May, prior to the German invasion of the Island.
A young Catherine Bell with her sister standing next to the farm gate. Photo from Catherine Bell
Returning to Australia after the war, Syd named his soldier settlement farm in western Victoria simply "Kalamata", in remembrance of the people of Greece who supported and saved him in 1941.
If you would like to read more about Syd Grant, click here  to read the lovely article in Neos Kosmos by Helen Velissaris from last year.
Donation of the Syd Grant Photographic Collection
Thanks to Syd's daughter, Catherine Bell, for much of this information and permission to publish her father's photograph above. Later this year, Catherine will donate Syd's extensive WW2 photographic collection - including many of Greece and Crete - to the State Library of Victoria, as part of the 75th anniversary of the battle of Greece and Crete. Thank you Catherine.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council



Friday, 29 April 2016

30 April-1 May 1941 - Operation Demon ends with evacuations from Kalamata area and Miloi

A few of the lads aboard the HMS Kimberley, 1st May 1941. Syd Grant Collection
On these day's 75 years ago, the last of the major evacuations from the Greek mainland took place.South of Kalamata, 33 soldiers were picked up on the night of the 29-30 May and a further 202 soldiers on the night of 30 April-1st May by HMS Hero, Isis and Kimberley. Among the latter was Horsham's Private Syd Grant of the 2/8th Battalion who had escaped German custody at Kalamata and been hidden by Greek villagers at Trachila south of Kalamata until being evacuated by the HMS Hero.
Meanwhile at Miloi, 700 troops were evacuated by HMS Hotspur and Havock.
And so ended Operation Demon and the effort to evacuate the Allied force in Greece. This has been called "the Second Dunkirk" and was a successful evacuation of the vast majority of Allied forces. Of the 58,000 Allied soldiers landed in Greece in 1941, over 50,000 were evacuated.
The evacuation mobilsed a major naval flotilla, consisting of 6 cruisers, 20 destroyers, 4 escort vessels, 9 troopships (I sunk at sea) and several smaller vessels. Further 5 ships used to ferry troops from Crete to Egypt.
On the negative side, 26 troop ships sunk during the evacuation by German air attacks. 8,000 Allied troops (including Australians, British, Cypriots, Palestinians and Yugoslavs) captured or on the run. Of the Australians, 2,030 were captured out of the 17,500 troops who served on the Greek mainland. Hundreds of Italian POW’s were released.
Yet after this time, Allied soldiers continued to make their way from the mainland to join their units.
Many Allied troops continued to escape from the Greek mainland and the Germans by individual means. Hidden and helped by local Greek villagers, both evaders and escapers, hired or were given passage in Greek fishing boats and other vessels. They made their way across the Aegean - some to Crete, others to the Asia Minor coast of Turkey and others even to Cyprus.

Australian Unit Locations - 30th April-1st May
16th Brigade HQ - Ikingi Maryut then Julius Camp (Palestine)
17th Brigade HQ - Limania then Bay of Messinia
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Retimo
2/2nd Battalion - Ikingi Maryut
2/3rd Battalion - Kantara
2/4th Battalion - Heraklion
2/5th Battalion - Ikingi Maryut then Hill 69 (Palestine)
2/6th Battalion - Limania
2/7th Battalion - Celebes
2/8th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Chania
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

Commemorative Services on Lemnos - 20-21 April 2016

The Annual Anzac commemorative services were again held on Lemnos this April.
The following report on the services has been recieved from Stelios Mantzaris, President of the Lemnos' Friends of Anzac Association.
This year saw the participation of the the Gallipoli Association (the major UK based commemorative organization) with the laying of a wreath on their behalf by Mr Dimitris Boulotis (pictured above). I was glad to be able to assist in facilitating their involvement. Hopefully this is a beginning of further participation from the UK in Lemnos' commemorations.
Congratulations on continuing the tradition of commemorating the Anzac connection to Lemnos and the Gallipoli campaign.

"Dear Friends
Attached you will find a press release from The “Lemnos’ Friends of ANZAC” Association , regarding the commemorations for the 101 years of the Gallipoli Campaign and the ANZAC Day. A few fotos are also attached for your reference
Always at your disposal ,for anything you might need
With best regards
Stelios A. Mantzaris
President

“The Lemnos‘ Friends of Anzac” Association"

"PRESS RELEASE 
26TH APRIL 2016 
LEMNOS
Dear Friends
Commemorations for the 101 anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and the ANZAC Day,
were hosted in Lemnos island, the 20th and 21st April, 2016 , showing once again to the
world community , the participation of the island in this global historical event.
Just like in 1915, the recognition of the historical memory and the participation of the island,
were very important, and populous. Residents of the island, school children, military and
political leadership officials, along with representatives from foreign countries ( Australia,
New Zealand, France), gave their due respect, to the Fallen of all the countries who fought,
and left their bodies in Gallipoli, and also at the sacred soil of Lemnos, at the Allied cemeteries
of Moudros, Portianou, and also the Muslim Allied cemetery.
"The Lemnos’ Friends of ANZAC" Association, once again co-organized with the authorities
of the island, the remembrance commemorations, along with the official announcement of
international research and formal proof, of the participation of Lemnos in the First World
War.
In this way and with the global academic and historical community, we will prove the
seriousness of the culture impact and all the cultural relationships that emerged. with the
presence of more than 160000 soldiers. Foreign people who stayed in Lemnos, before and
during the Gallipoli campaign, and also afterwards, throughout the entire duration of the
WW1.
Thus, with seriousness and meditation, we will tread, and we will prove, and will call on all
the 'stakeholders' involved to be part of the celebration, of the centenary of the Signature of the
Armistice of Moudros, at its physical location, Moudros Lemnos, with the due pomp (prestige
and significance) of it being a global event!!.
The new Museum of Naval Tradition, which was inaugurated at in the same area, where all
the historical events occurred (Moudros), will be used as a 'springboard' of knowledge, for its
visitors, and also for historians who would like to see live representations of Lemnos's
position in world history
At the website of the association www.friendsofanzac.com, within a few days, the program of
the international survey, will be posted, as well as all the official actions, for 2016, 2017, and
2018, within Lemnos, and Greece, but also around the world in general. Below is a series of
photographs relating to official celebrations of ANZAC Day."

The following photographs of the events have been provied by the Lemnos' Friends of Anzac:













For more information go to: www.friendsofanzac.com or facebook: The Lemnos' Friends of ANZAC

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Thursday, 28 April 2016

29 April 1941 - Evacuations continue - from Kalamata, Monemvasia and Kythera

Air Attack on the road to Monemvasia. AWM
On this day 75 years ago and as the battle of Kalamata drew to a close and the Allied defenders again secured the waterfront, the evacuations continued. Some 332 troops were evacuated (miscellaneous including other troops) by HMAS Perth, HMS phoebe, Decoy, Defender, Hereward, Hero, Hasty, Kandahar, Kingston, Kimberley and Nubian.
Meanwhile at Monemvasia 4,320 (6th NZ Brigade Group and others) were evacuated by HMS Ajax, Griffin, Isis, Havock and Hotspur. And at Kythera 820 troops were evacuated by HMS Auckland, Hyacinth and Salvia.

Australian Unit Locations - 29th April
16th Brigade HQ - Alexandria
17th Brigade HQ - Mani
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Kalibees
2/2nd Battalion - Alexandria
2/3rd Battalion -Alexandria
2/4th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/5th Battalion - Alexandria
2/6th Battalion - Mani
2/7th Battalion - Celebes
2/8th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Georgopoulis
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

28-29 April 1945 - Kalamata evacuations continues as the Battle of Kalamata erupts

Battle of Kalamata Waterfront, NZ Official History, Greece.
On the 28th April all was set for one final effort to shift the men from Kalamata.
7-8,000 troops remained ashore, including a battalion of New Zealanders and a mixed bunch of Australian gunner and transport drivers. Coming to their aid was a powerful convoy of ships led by Lt Commander Bowyer-Smith. A Royal Navy officer and baronet, he was the Captain of the HMAS Perth. The flotilla – known as Force B - consisted of the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth, together with another cruiser Pheobe and the destroyers Decoy and Hasty. Sailing north these ships were joined by four more destroyers (Nubian, Hero, Hereward and Defender), the whole force aiming to arrive at Kalamata by 10pm that night. For safety reasons, he sent Hero under Captain Briggs forward to reconnoitre the town at 6.30pm. Nearing the port, Hero reported 8.45pm that the “Bosch in town”. Sadly this was a misinterpretation of tracer fire lighting the night.
Kalamata Memorial
The Battle of Kalamata - Sergeant Jack Hinton wins the Victoria Cross
Two companies of the 5th Panzer Division, with two field guns, had attempted a daring coup by storming the town. It entered the town and got as far as the quay. They succeeded in capturing the naval–sea transport officer in charge of the port, Captain Clark-Hall. All was nearly lost. They were met by men of the NZ Reinforcement camp, a group originally awaiting allocation to various other units as reinforcement. These had been organised as a defence force of three rifle companies and a battalion Headquarters by Major MacDuff. Along with small groups of other New Zealand and Australian troops they counter-attacked, many not receiving orders before pitching in. Some 40 Germans were killed and 100 captured.
It was during this action that the bravery of Sergeant Jack Hinton of the 20th New Zealand Battalion earned him the Victoria Cross.
British Tankers ambushed north of Kalamata
Earlier in the day, the 300 men of the British 4th Hussars had been ordered north of the town to search for the advancing enemy. They were ambushed and either killed or captured to a man. A sorry end for these men who had fought with the Anzacs at Vevi.
Evacuations continue
Meanwhile other evacuations continued - from Rafina 800 troops evacuated by HMS Havock; from Porto Rafti 3,840 troops evacuated by HMS Ajax, Kingston and Kimberley.
At Tolos 260 Australian troops were defending the beaches at Tolos and Argos.

Australian Unit Locations - 28th April
16th Brigade HQ - At sea
17th Brigade HQ - Kalamata
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Kalibees
2/2nd Battalion - At sea
2/3rd Battalion -At sea
2/4th Battalion - Neon Khorion
2/5th Battalion - At sea
2/6th Battalion - Kalamata
2/7th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/8th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Chania
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

25-27 April 1941 - Nearly 7,000 Allied troops evacuated from Nafplio

Men of the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force at Nafplio awaiting evacuation.
Across these days 75 years ago, Allied troops began their evacuation from the Peloponnese town of Nafplio. This would continue into the 27th April.
Nafplio is a beautiful town on the north eastern side of the great Peloponnese peninsula. With its lovely harbour and Venetian castle above the town, it had been the first capital of independent Greece in the 1820's.
In late April 1941, Nafplio was one of the key evacuation ports for Allied troops as they sought to leave the Greek mainland to continue the fight against the Axis powers on Crete and beyond.
One of the soldiers evacuated from Nafplio was Major E.E. "Weary" Dunlop. A member of the Royal Australian Medical Corps, he had been attached as a liaison officer to the British Royal Army Medical Corps headquarters stationed in Athens. He was one of the last to leave Athens, bringing much needed hospital supplies to Nafplio to establish a medical service on the evacuation beach to tend to the many wounded awaiting evacuation. Major Dunlop was evacuated on 26th April.Some 6,685 troops were evacuated from the town on the evening of the 24-25th April. These included a number of 6th Division soldiers as well as the 2/6th Australian General Hospital, part of the 2/5th Australian General Hospital, 189th Field Ambulance and all nurses not evacuated from Piraeus on the 20th April.On the night of 26-27th April a further 4,520 were removed, including the 2/3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.
They were transported aboard the following ships - HMT Ulster Prince (which was subsequently damaged and abandoned), HMS Glenearn, HMS Pheobe, HMAS Voyager, HMAS Stuart and HMS Hyacinth.
The Australian warship HMAS Stuart and Voyager was part of the Royal Australian Navy contingent taking part in the Greek and Crete campaigns.
In the end 1,700 troops were left ashore. These include a number of Australian and other troops.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

27 April 1941 - Athens, Patras and Corinth Canal falls, evacuations continue and the Slamat, HMS Diamond, HMS Wryneck and Costa Rica sunk


Diggers join in the defence of the Costa Rica, 27 April 1941. AWM
On this day 75 years ago, Athens, Patras and the Corinth Canal fall to the German invaders. Outside Athens, 2/5th Australian General Hospital is captured at Kokkina. Patras is captured by the same SS units that has fought the Anzacs at the battle of Vevi on 10th April.
The Corinth Canal was taken by airborne assault, which overwhelmed the mainly Briish and New Zealand defenders.
The 4th New Zealand Brigade is moving from Markopoulon and then moves to Marathon. and 2,000 troops are waiting on the beaches of Nafplio for evacuation.
Meanwhile the successful evacuation of troops continues - from Rafina 3,503 troops are evacuated (including New Zealand Divisional troops) by HMS Decoy, Hasty, Nubian and Glengyle; from Porto Rafti 4,720 troops evacuated (incl corps and NZ Divisional troops) by HMS Carlisle, Kandahar, Kingston and Salween; from Nafplio/Tolos 4,527 troops evacuated by HMS Orion, Calcutta, HMAS Perth, Diamond, Hotspur, Isis, Stuart, Slamat and Khedive Ismail; and from Kalamata 8,650 troops evacuated (16th and 17th Brigades) by HMS Pheobe, Defender, Hero, Hereward, Flamingo, Dilwara, City of London and Costa Rica.
Slamat, HMS Diamond and HMS Wryneck Sunk
The Dutch troopship Salmat had left Nafplio harbour late, and was easy picking for the German aircraft that attacked the evacuation convoys leaving Greece. She was carrying 500 Allied troops. She was discovered and at 7.30 a.m. was sunk by Junkers JU 87 dive bombers, taking with her almost all on board. The destroyers HMS Wryneck and HMS Diamond picked up the few survivors, until they themselves were sunk by Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers off the east coast of the Peloponnese.
The loss of the three ships caused an estimated 983 deaths. Only 66 men survived. Of the 500 or so soldiers that Slamat embarked, only eight survived. Of her complement of 193 crew and 21 Australian and New Zealand DEMS gunners, only 11 survived. Of Diamond's 166 complement, 20 survived. Of Wryneck's 106 crew, 27 survived.
Slamat had a mixed crew of 84 Goans, 74 Dutch, 24 Chinese, 10 Australians and a Norwegian. The 11 survivors were six Goans, four Dutch and one other.
The bodies of three of Slamat's Dutch crew washed ashore far from the wreck - apprentice helmsman J Pille on the Greek island of Stamperia, Second Officer G van der Woude at Alexandria in Egypt, and lamp trimmer J van der Brugge at Gaza in Palestine.
The brave dutch merchant seaman are often overlooked in the story of the battle of Greece and Crete - 70 died in the sinking of the Slamat.They should be remembered.
 Costa Rica Sunk
The Dutch transport ship Costa Rica was attacked by three German dive bombers at about 3pm on the way from mainland Greece to Alexandria.
The Costa Rica was carrying 2,500 troops, comprising the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion, the 2/7th Battalion, part of the 2/8th Battalion, one company of the 2/1st Battalion and remnants of other units, including the 2/1st Field Regiment.
As the bombers attacked, the soldiers on the ship joined in its defence, firing their bren guns at the swooping planes to warn them off. Photos from the ship show the diggers firing at the German aircraft.
Although the transport ship was not hit, a near miss from a 1,000 pound bomb split her hull and flooded the engine room. Lieutenant Colonel Theo Walker of the 2/7th Battalion described how two British destroyers — Defender and Hereward — positioned themselves right beside the stricken ship and took the soldiers off:
"At this stage, owing to the numbers on board, all personnel could not be accommodated on the decks and the alleyways and cabins on the promenade deck had to be used as well. Many troops were now on the deck below, standing there in complete darkness, however, their behaviour was exemplary, the soldiers were standing silently on parade … On the starboard side, the ships were falling and rising some eight to twelve feet and the men had to swing down ropes and jump for the destroyer’s deck … the work of the Navy cannot be too highly commended."
The Costa Rica sank at 4pm - but all troops and sailors were safely transported to Royal Navy destroyers (including HMS Hereward), with no loss of life. The troops were then transported to Crete.

Horrie the dog, Egypt 1941. AWM
One of the passengers to survive the bombing and sinking was Horrie the dog, the famous mascot of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion. Horrie had joined the unit in Egypt and travelled with them all through Greece - acting as an early warning dog for the unit if stuka's were near! Evacuated to Crete on the Costa Rica, Horrie survived the sinking of the ship and narrowly escaped being crushed between two life boats. On Crete, he acted as a messenger dog delivering messages to outlying patrols. During the evacuation of Crete Horrie was wounded by shrapnel but was successfully treated. He survived Crete and the Middle East, only to return to live his life out in Australia.



Australian Unit Locations - 27th April
16th Brigade HQ - Kalamata
17th Brigade HQ - Monemvasia
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Kalibees
2/2nd Battalion - Kalamata
2/3rd Battalion -Kalamata
2/4th Battalion - Megara
2/5th Battalion - Kalamata
2/6th Battalion - Monemvasia
2/7th Battalion - At sea
2/8th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - At sea
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

Monday, 25 April 2016

26 April 1941 - Australian Allen Group arrives at Kalamata, Australians arrive on Crete and evacuations from Megara

Men of the Australian 2/1st Field Regiment arrive in Kalamata, 26th April 1941. AWM
On this day 75 years ago, Allied troops were evacuated from Megara and Australian and other troops under Australian commander Allen arrived at Kalamata.By the end of the 26th April some 5,900 troops were evacuated from Megara (including over 1,000 wounded and the last of the Australian and British nurses in Greece). They were transported by HMT Thurland Castle, HMAT Wryneck, HMS Coventry, HMS Havelock, HMS Hasty and HMS Decoy. Two Royal Australian Navy warships also took part in the evacuation. - HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Waterhen.
On this day, the Allen Group - comprising Australian, British, Palestinian, Cypriot and Yugoslav troops arrived at Kalamata. The convoy comprised some 600 vehicles, conveying approximately 6,000 troops in all. Photographs from the time show Australian gunners of the 2/1st Field Regiment walking through the town of Kalamata heading for the waterfront (above).
Meanwhile a number of Australian units had already been successfully transported from the Greek mainland to Crete - the 19th Brigade Headquarters, as well as both the Australian 2/1st and 2/11th Battalions.

Australian Unit Locations - 26th April
16th Brigade HQ - Kalamata
17th Brigade HQ - Kalamata
19th Brigade HQ - Suda Bay
2/1st Battalion - Suda Bay
2/2nd Battalion - Kalamata
2/3rd Battalion -Kalamata
2/4th Battalion - Megara
2/5th Battalion - Kalamata
2/6th Battalion - Kalamata
2/7th Battalion - Kalamata
2/8th Battalion - Kalamata
2/11th Battalion - Suda Bay
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Kalamata
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council 

Oakleigh Grammar Presentation - Remembering the Battle of Greece and Crete 1941

Photo Jim Claven 2016
Today I gave a historical presentation on the battle of Greece and Crete in 1941 to the students of Oakleigh Grammar.Over 50 students from the Year 10 and Year 11 classes and teachers attended the presentation. I explained the story of the Greek and Crete campaigns through the story of the battle of Vevi and through recounting the experiences of a number of individual Anzac's. I also emphasized the great support the Anzac's received from the ordinary Greek people - as they arrived, as they departed and when they were on the run from the Germans - often at great personal cost.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
I also explained the long history of the Hellenic connection to Anzac stretching back to Lemnos in 1915.
I explained the moves to locate gunner James Zampelis body on Crete and to erect a permanent memorial to him and those Australians who died in Greece and Crete in Oakleigh.
Along with Tony Tsourdalakis of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council, I launched a battle of Crete photographic display. I pointed our that the display includes never before seen photos - including those taken by Private Syd Grant during the Greek campaign. The display will be hosted by the school for a number of weeks, before going on to be displayed at another school.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Tony and myself encouraged the students to get involved in the Council and come to its program of commemorative events. We also invited the teachers and students to visit the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park and the Hellenic Memorial near the Shrine.
One of the teachers at the school told me that her family was from Kleide - the site of the battle of Vevi in April 1941.
Thanks to Mr Mark Robertson (Principal) and Ms Anastasia Spanos (LOTE Teacher) for the invitation to make this presentation.
Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Gallipoli Dawn Service Address 2016 - Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs


Reproduced below is the Official Address by the Australian Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan, MP, at the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, later today.
"We stand here in this place to mark the sacrifice, the resolve and the bravery of the men who died for us.
We remember them through their story, a story that we carry as their descendants.
We have travelled here to pay our respects to the first Anzacs and to those who follow them.
It is a story of brave men who fought in a foreign land for our values, our freedoms and for our sovereignty.
We gather here because this is the place where that story began.
It is a story of courage, resilience and a unique Anzac spirit of rolling your sleeves up and getting the job done.
It is a story of people like Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, an office worker from Maryborough in Queensland.
Enlisting in Brisbane, Duncan had no idea of what awaited him in this place, half a world away.
As a member of the 9th Battalion, Lieutenant Chapman was in the first wave of Australian forces sent to land at Gallipoli.
In fact, 101 years ago, in this same dark dawn, Duncan was one of the very first Anzacs to land on these shores.
Surviving the landing, Duncan wrote:
"What a living Hell it was, too, and how I managed to go through it from 4 o’clock in the morning of Sunday, April 25th, to Wednesday, the 28th, under fire the whole time, without being hit, is a mystery to me."
Lieutenant Chapman spent four months on these hills and in these trenches fighting for his country. This steep terrain would have become his home.
Duncan was lucky enough to leave alive. Many others did not. Over 11,000 Australians and New Zealanders died in the eight-month-long ordeal that was the Gallipoli campaign.
Thanks to the talents of Australian Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Brudenell White, Duncan Chapman wasn’t the only Anzac to leave these shores.
Duncan left in August, four months before the evacuation of the Anzac and Suvla sectors in December 1915, which saw more than 93,000 troops, 200 guns and over 5,000 animals leave here without incident.
The remarkable story of the evacuation is often forgotten – an incredible feat of logistics. It was the task of moving a city the size of Rockhampton or Bunbury or Palmerston North from this peninsula without the enemy engaging.
This effort and its success was extraordinary.
It’s not often that a withdrawal is held up as a victory. But so much of the Anzac story is more than ordinary.
The countless lives that were saved, the untold tragedy that was avoided, has meant that Anzac didn’t end as a story that we remember bitterly.
Many Australians and New Zealanders died here. The Anzac story did not.
Lieutenant Chapman’s story did not finish at Gallipoli. In Egypt, Duncan Chapman was present when General John Monash paraded the troops on the first Anzac Day in 1916.
Even at the time, Monash knew the importance of those first soldiers who fought at Gallipoli in the coming Western Front Campaign.
In a letter home, Monash recorded that "Every man who had served on Gallipoli wore a blue ribbon on the right breast, and every man who, in addition, had taken part in the historic landing on 25 April 1915, wore a red ribbon also ... Alas how few of us are left who were entitled to wear both."
Promoted to Major, Duncan Chapman sailed from Egypt to France with the newly-raised 45th Battalion and entered the massive theatre of warfare on the Western Front.
On 6 August 1916, German shellfire killed Duncan Chapman at the battle of Pozieres, the centenary of which we commemorate this year.
He was 27.
Less than three weeks after Duncan Chapman’s death, his father wrote to the Minister of Defence.
"It is a great blow to me in every way as he was my sole support. Still I gave him freely for the cause… still we are human and would almost grudge what we gave. My heart is not very strong being 73 years of age."
Duncan’s father died soon after.
Each year we remember the beginning of the story of Anzac here at Gallipoli. But while it began here we cannot forget where it has taken us.
It is a story that continued on the Western Front: at Fromelles, at Pozières, at Passchendaele, at Villers-Bretonneux.
It is a story that continues wherever Australian or New Zealand service men and women are deployed today.
It is a story that continues in us, those who gather every year to remember.
Lest we forget."


Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

25 April 1941 - Lemnos occupied and major Allied evacuations commence from Greece - Porto Rafti and Nafplio

Anzacs awaiting embarkation from Greece at Megara, April 1941. AWM
On this day 75 years ago, today James Zampelis and his unit - 2/2 Field Regiment - departed from Megara on mainland Greece for Crete.
The Germans occupied the Island of Lemnos on this day, Anzac Day 1941 - the former base for the Allied Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
German troops marching through Myrina, Lemnos' capital, 25 April 1941.
Allied Commander, General Wilson and his Headquarters arrive at Miloi from Athens.
Allied troops begin the evacuation of the Greek mainland.
5,700 troops, including Anzacs, are evacuated from Porto Rafti by HMS Glengoyle and HMS Calcutta.
6,685 troops are evacuated from Nafplio - the first capital of an independent Greece - by HMT Ulster Prince (which was then damaged and had to be abandoned), HMS Glenearn, HMS Pheobe, and HMS Hyacinth - and the Australian ships HMAS Voyager and HMAS Stuart.
The few remaining Royal Air Force airplanes in Greece are evacuated.

 Australian Unit Locations - 25th April
16th Brigade HQ - Miloi
17th Brigade HQ - Kalamata
19th Brigade HQ - Megara
2/1st Battalion - Kalamata
2/2nd Battalion - Miloi
2/3rd Battalion -Karatiane
2/4th Battalion - Megara
2/5th Battalion - Argos
2/6th Battalion - Corinth
2/7th Battalion - Miloi
2/8th Battalion - Miloi
2/11th Battalion - Megara
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Argos
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council 


Alphington Grammar - Anzac Day Assembly - More Photos

Dignitaries, including veterans families - Judith Gunnarson, Deb Stewart and Catherine Bell - as well as the representatives of the Hellenic Defence Force, with school representatives.
This post contains more photographs from Friday's great commemorative assembly held at Alphington Grammar. Thanks to Kostas Deves for providing these great photographs. Enjoy.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council


I was very proud to receive this award from Lieutenant General Gatzogiannis.
LGCC members with Principal Vivianne Nikou and Catherine Bell.
 


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Digger of the Day - Vale Hawthorn FC player Lance Bombardier Jack Drake


Former Hawthorn FC Player, Lance Bombardier Jack Drake. NAA
On this day 75 years ago, Lance Bombardier Jack Drake of the 2/2nd Field Regiment was fatally wounded defending the Brallos Pass in central Greece.
Jack was born in Perth but had an aptitude for Australian Rule Football. He would play for Melbourn's Hawthorn Football Club in its 1926 season.
Having moved to to Hawthorn, he enlisted in the Australian Artillery at the recruitment centre in Hawthorn.
Jack was part of the artillery defending Brallos Pass as the German's pressed their invasion of Greece south. The guns of the 2/2 played a key role in inflicting serious damage on the German forces crossing the Sperkios River and advancing up into the Brallos Pass. A number of gunners were killed and wounded.
Jack was fatally wounded on the 23rd April. He was 37 years old.
He is buried at Phaleron Military Cemetery in Athens.
Jack is one of three Aussie Rules footballers we know who died in the battle to defend Greece and Crete.
This weekend as we commemorate Anzac Day and the Anzac Day football games are played, we should remember Jack Drake, an Australian sportsmen who was fatally wounded 75 years ago in Brallos pass, Greece. Vale Jack Drake.
Jack Drake's grave in Athens. Photo Liza Koutsaplis 2016

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council

24 April 1941 - Final Day of the Battles of Brallos Pass and Thermopylae - Former Hawthorn FC player Gunner Drake fatally wounded

Brallos Pass, Greece, Painted by William Dargie, 1946. AWM
On this day 75 years ago, German forces engaged the Australian diggers at Brallos Pass on the final day of the battle. 
The Defence of Brallos Pass and the Australian withdrawal
This was the fourth day of the German attempt to force their way south through the Anzac's defending this vital pass. The Anzacs successfully defended the pass and then extracted their forces to continue the withdrawal south, saving the guns and ammunition of the 2/2 Field Regiment.
The battle began in the early morning, with German trucks with infantry advancing over the repaired bridge over the Sperkios River below. German infantry then began advancing on the Australian defenders. The Australian defenders included elements of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion and three infantry battalions - 2/1st, 2/4th, 2/8th and 2/11th.
By the late afternoon. German mortars were showering the Australians, killing or wounding many of the 2/11th. Further German infantry advances - including to the west of Gravia on the western flank of the Australian defenders - resulted in the decision to withdraw most of the Australians by late in the evening.
The withdrawal saw the a detachment of the 2/8th Battalion move up to defend Brallos village.
At 8.30pm the 2/2nd Field Regiment - with the help of the 2/1st Field Company equipped only with hand tools, air compressors and a limited quantity of explosive - successfully removed its remaining guns and ammunition. As the roads were blocked, they did so across a track made by the Australian engineers some three miles long from Brallos north-east over very rough country to the gun positions. The track was then demolished by the engineers who had so recently made it.
While the withdrawal was in progress Vasey was anxious lest the enemy troops who had been moving round the western flank and appeared to be in Gravia should reach the Ano Kalivia road junction before the brigade had passed it . Three carriers were sent to block this possible German flanking movement along this southern road. The Germans never came, delaying their advance
There remained one other rearguard to the north of the force at Erithrai - the 2/5th Battalion group in position just west of Levadia covering the road leading through Delphi . Untroubled, the 2/5th moved out from its positions at 3 a .m. and drove south to rejoin (it hoped) the17th Brigade to which it belonged.
Thus, by the early morning of the25th the whole of "W" Group had moved through the rearguard at Erithrai and, again, miles of cratered roads separated it from the advancing German army.
One of those who fought at Brallos was St Kilda-born Gunner James Zampelis. James was a digger of Greek background, his father having been born on Lefkada.
Another was 37 year old former Hawthorn Footballer, Lance Bombardier Jack Drake. He was fatally wounded at Brallos.Thermopylae
Meanwhile German tanks crossed the Sperkios and advanced east towards the Kiwi defenders at Thermopylae. Despite destroying 12 German tanks, the New Zealanders successfully withdrew south.

Australian Unit Locations - 24th April
16th Brigade HQ - Eleusis
17th Brigade HQ - Thermopylae
19th Brigade HQ - South of Brallos
2/1st Battalion - Megara
2/2nd Battalion - Elefsis
2/3rd Battalion -Elefsis
2/4th Battalion - Amfiklia
2/5th Battalion - Levadia
2/6th Battalion - Mandra
2/7th Battalion - Elefsis
2/8th Battalion - Elefsis
2/11th Battalion - Megara
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Levadia
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council 

Friday, 22 April 2016

23 April 1941 - Third Day of the Defence of Brallos and the Battle of Thermopylae begins

Thermopylae, April 1941. NZ
On this day in 1941, the battle to control the Brallos Pass continued into its third and final day, while the battle to defend the coastal plain at nearby Thermopylae commenced.
Thermopylae
The defenders at Thermopylae in 1941 were the New Zealand 24th and 25th Battalions, with the 26th Battalion in reserve. The two battalions were supported by a medium regiment, four field regiments (three New Zealand, one Royal Horse Artillery), two anti-tank regiments and a light anti-aircraft battery .
The battle began at 2pm with German infantry, tanks, motor cyclists and cyclists approaching the defenders. By 5pm the Allied artillery had destroyed many tanks.Despite this success, towards the end of the day penetration to the rear of the 25th Battalion became threatening. After dark, drivers drove boldly along the road past the destroyed German tanks and picked up the gallant crews of those guns that were now in front of the infantry. During the day enemy air attack had little effect on the fighting, though it made movement difficult behind the front.
Brallos
The gun positions of the Australian 2/2nd Regiment were severely attacked by German aircraft on this day. The commanding officer, Colonel Cremor, ordered that the guns be moved at night to new positions to the rear, but that camouflage nets be left over the old pits. These pits were in the area now occupied by the Australian 2/11th Battalion,
Meanwhile on the left flank, high in the hills, the Australian 19th Brigade had also felt the weight of the German attack. The Australian 2/11th Battalion, 2/1st Battalion, 2/4th Battalion and a group of one officer and 48 men of the Australian 2/8th Battalion now were in position to defend the valleys and passes around the Brallos area, to the east of road leading through the pass, including the tracks leading through Kalothronion to the right rear of the Australian 2/1th Battalion's position.
One company of the Australian 2/1st Battalion under Captain Embrey, was detached to cover demolitions in the defile at Gravia through which ran a road from Amfissa, towards which German troops from Epirus were reported to be advancing. The Australian 2/4th Battalion was in position astride the road five miles south of Brallos.

Australian Unit Locations - 23nd April
16th Brigade HQ - Brallos
17th Brigade HQ - Thermopylae
19th Brigade HQ - North of Brallos
2/1st Battalion - Thermopylae
2/2nd Battalion - Kanlini
2/3rd Battalion -Amficklia
2/4th Battalion - Brallos
2/5th Battalion - Brallos
2/6th Battalion - Thermopylae
2/7th Battalion - Brallos
2/8th Battalion - Amfiklia
2/11th Battalion - Megara
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Levadia
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council







Anzac Day Address - Alphington Grammar honors Sister Evelyn Hutt of Lemnos 1915 and Gunner James Zampelis of the Greek campaign 1941

Photo Alphington Grammar 2016
Today Alphington Grammar held its Anzac Day Assembly.
At the invitation of the Principal Dr Vivianne Nikou, I made a presentation on the Hellenic link to Anzac through the story of two Anzacs - Sister Evelyn Hutt who served on Lemnos in 1915 and Gunner James Zampelis who served and sadly died during the battle of Greece in 1941.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
Alphington Grammar is also hosting our Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition, as well as another photographic exhibition on the Battle of Crete (which I have created and produced for the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council).
A feature of the Assembly was the presence of our two visiting Hellenic Defence Forces representatives - Lieutenant General Konstantinos Gatzogiannis and Lieutenant Colonel Konstantinos Vasilopoulos.
Photo Jim Claven 2016
The assembly was honored by the attendance by representatives of two veterans families - Judith Gunnarson and Deb Stewart from the family of Sister Evelyn Hutt (who served on Lemnos in 1915); and Catherine and James Bell from the family of Private Syd Grant (who served on Greece and Crete in 1941).
I pointed out how both families have made available to the public the amazing unique photographic collections from the wartime service of their Anzac veterans. The Assembly acknowledged their presence and the service of their family members by acclamation.
Photo John Pandazopoulos 2016
The ceremony included an introduction by Dr Nikou, an address by Lieutenant General Konstantinos Gatzogiannis, various readings and performances by the students of Alphington Grammar.
The Assembly concluded with the reading of The Ode and the playing of the Last Post and the Revielle.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee members in attendance were President Lee Tarlamis, Vice President Christina Despoteris, Member Ange Kenos and Member Arlene Bennett.
Ange Kenos showing LG Gatzogiannis our Lemnos Gallipoli Photographic Exhibition. Photo Jim Claven 2016
President of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council, Tony Tsordourlakis, and Michael Houdalakis, President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand. Former Minister, the Hon John Pandazopoulis, also attended.
To read more about the address, click here to go to the Alphington Grammar website report.
Congratulations to Alphington Grammar in hosting this commemorative event.
Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

22 April 1941 - Second Day at Brallos and the Kiwis prepare to defend Thermopylae

Australian artillery in action, Greece, April 1941. AWM
On this day, the Australian gunners of the 2/2 Field Regiment defend Brallos Pass for the second day and the New Zealand defenders of Thermopylae face the German assault on the coastal road.
Brallos
After holding up the German advance from Lamia to the Sperkios River the previous day, the 22nd April would see the Australian gunners - with two guns - suffer incoming artillery shelling and the advance of the German infantry - over an 8 hour battle.
Despite holding back the infantry with direct line of sight barrages, the Australian guns would be destroyed or disabled by late afternoon.
The Australian commander - Lieutenant Anderson from Brighton in Victoria - stayed with his men until the last gun as disabled. Along with Sergeant Ingram, formerly a physical trainer from Albert Park and Sergeant Lees, formerly a butcher from Prahran, Anderson was able to get one of the disabled guns to operate.
The German guns now opened fire with deadly accuracy. One man was killed and another wounded on the hillside some distance above the guns; then, at the guns, five men were killed and three wounded, one fatally, leaving only eight men unwounded, including Anderson.
At dusk, after the wounded men had been carried out, Lieutenant Anderson and Gunner Brown, a former tram conductor from Coburg,returned to the guns and brought away the sights and striker mechanism, and the discs and pay books of the dead. These brave Australian gunners had held up the German advance for two days.
Thermopylae
The defence of the Thermopylae Pass was left to Barrowclough's New Zealand 6th Brigade.The four companies of the New Zealand 25th Battalion were in position overlooking the road and the river, the New Zealand 24th Battalion astride the road at Ayia Trias, and the New Zealand 26th Battalion in rear of it astride the road at Molos . Seven artillery regiments (four field, one medium, and two anti-tank) were in support—a formidable array.
Forward were sixty men of the New Zealand 22nd on the left of the main position, sixty of the New Zealand 23rd Battalion at the bridge over the Sperkios River and the carriers of the New Zealand 5th Brigade which were to patrol the flats north of the road at night.
On the night of the 22nd the New Zealand 5th Brigade, having destroyed much of its heavy gear, moved to Ayia Konstantinos, and the New Zealand 4th Brigade to the covering position at Erithrai .
Meanwhile, 23 Allied vessels are sunk by German air attacks over the 21-22nd April and in Athens Allied
General Wilson issues the orders for withdrawal from Greece.

Australian Unit Locations - 22nd April
16th Brigade HQ - Brallos
17th Brigade HQ - Kalivia Ano
19th Brigade HQ - Brallos
2/1st Battalion - Lamia
2/2nd Battalion - Kanlini
2/3rd Battalion -Amficklia
2/4th Battalion - Brallos
2/5th Battalion - Brallos
2/6th Battalion - Thermopylae
2/7th Battalion - Brallos
2/8th Battalion - Amfiklia
2/11th Battalion - South of Brallos
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Annakleva
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council 


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

21 April 1941 - Volos falls and Australia's Gunners stop the German advance at Brallos Pass - First Day

The Brallos Pass, April 1941. AWM
On this day, 75 years ago, Australia's gunners commenced their defence of the Brallos Pass, while their Anzac comrades from New Zealand came into position the plains of Thermopylae below, to defend the coast road south.
This defence was part of the continuing Allied withdrawal south through Greece, to ensure that as many Allied troops were able to be evacuated from mainland Greece to continue the fight against the Axis invaders on Crete and beyond.
On the morning of the 21st April, two guns of the 2/2nd Field Regiment were sited on the heights of the Brallos Pass with a open view of the Sperkhios River and valley below, supported by the 2/4th Battalion and its observers 400 yards further up the slope.At 6pm the first German vehicles emerged along the straight road from Lamia, it was stopped and forced to retire by the Australian gunners.
Meanwhile Vasey's 19th Australian Brigade (then including the 2/5th Battalion), Savige's 17th Australian Brigade (then comprising 2/6th and 2/7th Battalions) and the remnants of Allen's 16th Australian Brigade (two weak Battalions) moved into position to defend the roads and tracks leading out of the Brallos Pass area.
General Wilson's Headquarters moves to Thebes, Australian General Mackay's to Avia Marina and New Zealander General Freyberg's to Longos. In Athens, Allied Commander-in-Chief of Middle East forces - General Wavell - meets with the Greek Government.
Meanwhile Volos is captured by the Germans.

Australian Unit Locations - 21st April
16th Brigade HQ - Brallos
17th Brigade HQ - Kalivia Ano
19th Brigade HQ - Lamia-Brallos Road
2/1st Battalion - Lamia
2/2nd Battalion - Thermopylae
2/3rd Battalion -Amficklia
2/4th Battalion - Brallos
2/5th Battalion - Brallos
2/6th Battalion - Thermopylae
2/7th Battalion - Brallos
2/8th Battalion - Brallos
2/11th Battalion - Brallos
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Annakleva
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council