Once again a small group from the UK attended this year. Sadly no veterans but we do hope to see some in September at our reunion then. The Mayor, Panagiotis E. Nikas, together with other civic dignitaries including Periklis Mantas, deputy governor of the Region of Peloponnese were in attendance. Plus the town band. Also present were military personnel and, of course, we were well supported by our ex-pat friends. As usual, our Man in Kalamata, and very good friend, Nikos Zervis, also joined us.
Janet Parkin, gave the welcome introduction saying how pleased we were to be there representing the Brotherhood 76 years after the 1941 Greek Campaign and bringing greetings from the Brotherhood and Frank Gill, our President. Janet also thanked the City of Kalamata for continuing to organise the Annual Service of Commemoration because it is so important that the sacrifices made are not forgotten. Jock Watt had been hoping to be with us because he particularly wanted to say a few words himself. However, David Sanderson (son of Eric Rockcliff Sanderson) said few words on Jock’s behalf.
Speeches were translated by Kostas Kontothanasis, the Mayor’s Press and Public Relations Officer. Kostas has become a good friend of the Brotherhood. The Mayor also gave a speech in which he promised that the 1941 Greek Campaign would always be commemorated. Laurel wreaths were laid by the Mayor and other dignitaries. Poppy tributes were laid by David Sanderson in memory of the Prisoners of War, Mrs Elizabeth Matthews on behalf of the Widows, Mrs Judi Jones in memory of Deceased members, Colin Pleavin on behalf of the Brotherhood and Mrs Diane Billinge on behalf of the Ex-Patriate Community.
We had press coverage in three local newspapers the following day as well as excellent coverage in Australia courtesy of Jim Claven, an Australian freelance writer and historian, based in Melbourne, who attended the service in Kalamata in 2016, and is the Secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee. Jim had an illustrated article published in Neos Kosmos, a Greek Community Newspaper, which covered both the service in Kalamata and a service in Melbourne later in May.
Some of our party later took the opportunity to visit one of the playgrounds which had been affected by the extreme flooding last Autumn and for which Brotherhood funds had been used for restoration.