Another successful UK reunion: 77th anniversary at Lichfield 8th September

Sadly, the weather wasn’t great so we held the service in the chapel and afterwards laid the wreaths at the altar in the Greek Grove.

Father John, with his wife Georgina, together with Marina from their church, attended.  As usual their singing was delightful and really added to the service.

We were delighted to welcome Captain P Koulouris, the Greek Defence Attaché; Major Chris Shaw, with his fiancée, New Zealand Defence Staff; and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Evans and his wife, the Department of Defence, Australian High Commission, who all laid wreaths.

Frank Gill, our President, who celebrated his 99th birthday in July, was with us with his daughter Trish and son-in-law Carl.

We were also very pleased to welcome, once again, Mrs Dora Cooper, 103 years old.  Dora is the widow of L/Cpl Francis Cooper of the 4th Q.O. Hussars, PoW, Stalag 18A.  Dora  was accompanied by her son Cyril.

Four standards were carried – thank you to Paul Hadwin, Thomas Morgan, Colin Pleavin and David Sanderson.

Janet Parkin, our Secretary, gave a welcome speech after which Carol Swinnerton read out a short poem which she had written and which is reproduced here:

“PETALS on the ground, they lie there fallen, like the men that went before. The past is done and gone, but someone’s FATHER, BROTHER, SON, when we think of them, they still live on.”

In addition to the wreaths laid by our special guests, see above, poppy tributes were also laid by Frank Gill – in memory of Fallen Comrades; Buster (Doug) Beckett – Prisoners of War;  Elizabeth Matthews – Widows; Mary Peterkin – Deceased Members and Mark Buttery on behalf of the Brotherhood.  Geoff Swinnerton gave the oration.  Len Cook, bugler, played the Last Post and Reveille and Barry Parkin acted as Parade Marshall.

Many thanks to you all for your contribution.

Kalamata 2018 – 77th anniversary ceremony, another memorable occasion

The ceremony took place on Tuesday 8th May 2018. This was attended not only by the Mayor, Panagiotis E. Nikas and members of the City Council but also Mr Konstantinos Cotsilinis, Honorary Consul General of New Zealand and Mr Andrea Biggi, Deputy Head of Mission, from the Australian Embassy, Athens.

Also a group from Israel attended, the Jewish Pioneer Corps whose ancestors fought in Greece as part of the British Expeditionary Corps. They were accompanied by Captain Zvika Shahar, Defence and Military Attaché of the Embassy of the State of Israel. Also present were military personnel, the town band, ex-pat friends, local people including a group of students and of course, our Man in Kalamata, and very good friend, Mr Nikos Zervis.

Janet Parkin gave the welcome introduction and passed on greetings from our President, Frank Gill . This was translated by Mr Kostas Kontothanasis, the Mayor’s Press and Public Relations Officer. The Mayor gave a speech, the content of which is below and at the end he paid a very pleasing tribute to Nikos Zervis.

“Dear representative of Australia, Dear representative of New Zealand, Dear representative of Israel, Greek officials, Dear representatives of the Brotherhood of Veterans, Dear representatives of Greek Diaspora organisations, Dear visitors from Israel, Australia and Great Britain, I welcome you all to Kalamata, on the occasion of today’s Service of Commemoration, in honour of the fighters and the victims of the Battle of Kalamata. Seventy seven years have gone by since April 28th, 1941, the time when 58,000 British, Australian, Jewish, Serbian, Greek, New Zealander and Cypriot soldiers, fought the final battle against the Germans, on mainland Greece, in an attempt to escape to Crete and Egypt. It is true that this important event does not occupy the place it deserves in the history of World War II, despite the books that have been written and the efforts of many veterans. Still, we must try to keep the memory of this event alive in our memory. We owe it to the fighters, we owe it to those who gave their lives in the great struggle for the freedom of all peoples. May their memory live forever! Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Nikos Zervis for his contribution in organizing this ceremony and for being the “bridge” with the Veterans.”

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, Mr Roger Hadwin in memory of Deceased Members, Mr Doug (Buster) Beckett on behalf of the Brotherhood of Veterans of the 1941 Greek Campaign and Mrs Di Billinge on behalf of the expatriate community. The band played the appropriate national anthems. After the service we had refreshments in the park, hosted by the City Council. Once again, a very memorable and successful occasion.

77th anniversary Kalamata 2018 update

The date of this year’s service is Tuesday 8th May 2018. Some of us stay at the Haikos Hotel which we book directly, while Saga offers packages staying at the Filoxenia Hotel. Saga’s telephone number is 0808 252 2808. Flights direct to Kalamata are available with British Airways from Heathrow, Easyjet from Gatwick and Thomas Cook from Manchester. Please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com if you would like to join us for the ceremony and/or would like more information.