Father John took the service, which was held at the National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday 10th September 2016 with the help of Father Theodoros and members of his church and choir. Around 70 people attended the service and as this was the 75th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign we were delighted that the following three gentlemen could also join us: Brigadier Evan Williams, New Zealand Defence Adviser from the NZ High Commission, Captain Charalampos Zisimopoulos, Defence Attaché from the Hellenic Embassy and Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Tsamis, Australian Defence Staff from the Australian High Commission.
Our party included three 97 year-old veterans – Frank Gill, our President, Jock Watt and Joe Burke. Standard bearers included Jock Watt, Alec Hamilton, Thomas Morgan, Colin Pleavin , David Sanderson and Gerry Shaw.
In addition to the wreaths laid by our special guests, poppy tributes were also laid by Elizabeth Matthews, for the widows; Phil Evans for the Prisoners of War; Frank Gill for Fallen Comrades, Mark Buttery on behalf of the Brotherhood and Geoff Swinnerton for Deceased Members. Len Cook played the last post and reveille and Barry Parkin acted as Parade Marshall.
Many thanks to all the above for their contribution.
Our group this year numbered 32 from the UK – including two veterans – Frank Gill and Jock Watt. Also present, were 12 people from Israel, family descendants of the Palestinian Pioneers who served with the British Army and who were taken prisoner in April 1941.
Others who attended the ceremony on Tuesday 24th May 2016 included: the British Ambassador and the Australian Ambassador from Athens accompanied by their Defence Attachés, together with an 8-person contingent from the Australian Federation Guard; various military personnel, civic dignitaries, the town band and the usual very supportive group of expats.
We must thank the Mayor of Kalamata Mr. Nikas Panagiotis, and his Assistant and Press and Public Relations Officer, Mr Kostas Kontothanasis for all their kind hospitality and invaluable support. Not forgetting Nikos Zervis, ‘Our Man in Kalamata’ who was also present giving us his usual, most welcome help, advice and support.
On this special anniversary, Frank Gill, President of the Brotherhood presented the Mayor with a Brotherhood plaque “Presented to the Mayor and People of Kalamata for their generous support over the years. 75th Anniversary of the Greek Campaign. May 2016.” The Mayor reciprocated by presenting Frank Gill with a copy of the Seal of the Senate of Messinia.
Laurel wreaths were laid by the Mayor and other dignitaries. The Ambassadors laid wreaths and our contingent laid seven wreaths: Frank Gill in memory of Fallen Comrades, Noah Scott on behalf of the Prisoners of War, Mrs Diane Billinge on behalf of the Widows, Phil Evans in memory of Australian Prisoners of War and their Fallen Comrades, Alec Hamilton of behalf of the Royal Tank Regiment, Geoff Swinnerton of behalf of Deceased members and the Brotherhood of Veterans of the 1941 Greek Campaign and Alan Stevenson on behalf of the Expatriate Community. Jim Claven also laid a wreath on behalf of the Battle of Crete and Greek Campaign Commemorative Committee.
We are pleased to announce that we will be holding the 75th UK reunion at the National Memorial Arboretum Saturday 10th September 2016. Weather permitting, the service will be held at 11 am (time to be confirmed) in the Greek Grove. If it rains, we will hold the service in the Chapel (as we did last year) followed by the laying of the wreaths at the Greek Grove. For more information please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are planning to travel to Greece next year for the 75th anniversary, this is to let you know that easyJet flights from UK to Kalamata for May 2016 are now open for booking.
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
2016 will be the 75th anniversary. Clearly, this will probably be the last ‘significant’ anniversary that our surviving veterans (now well into their 90s) will able to attend. We are very keen to make contact with as many veterans and their families as possible, including those from Australia and New Zealand and other Allied Forces, to join us and take part in what will be a very special and unique event.
We are pleased to announce that the date for the 75th anniversary ceremony in Kalamata will be Tuesday 24th May 2016. We are in discussion with officials regarding the arrangements for this very special event and will publish details in due course.