Sadly our dear friend Nikos Zervis has passed away

We very saddened to hear that our very dear and great friend in Kalamata, Nikos Zervis, died on the 15th February, aged 92. We will publish a proper tribute to Nikos in due course.  However, in the meantime, we are in the process of trying to organise a short service for Nikos, to pay our respects in May, when we will be in Kalamata for our annual commemoration of the 1941 Greek Campaign. If you would like to know more or wish to join  us at this service please get in touch at greekveterans@gmail.com

Very sorry to announce death of (David) Allan Slocombe

(David) Allan Slocombe – RE, 292 Army Fld Co, PoW 5266, Taken at Kalamata. Marburg 2 years, then on farm in Austria for  2 years.  Man of Confidence, who died on 22 November 2018, aged 99. Allan was a very active member of the Brotherhood, having been a regular, with wife Peggy, at both the UK and Kalamata reunions and he usually carried the standard at both ceremonies. He was a lovely man with a great sense of humour and will be greatly missed.

Improvements to The Greek Grove, National Arboretum

A major programme of works has now been completed to renew and upgrade ‘The Greek Grove’ at The National Memorial Arboretum.

This included: gravel being replaced by premium turf; paving stones replaced by limestone slabs: poles cut down to ground level and ground out;  the willow dug out and the stumps ground out; and twelve cupressus sempervirens planted around the perimeter.

We have been very fortunate in that these improvement works (ground preparation, removal of posts and gravel, laying of turf, tree planting, watering in of turf) have come about through the sheer hard work and dedication of large number of volunteers and Arboretum staff.

The improvement works, although desperately needed, have proved to be quite costly. And at the time of writing this entry, this cost is being underwritten by one of our  members. If you would like to make a donation to The Greek Grove improvement works  or would like to sponsor a tree please get in touch with us at greekveterans@gmail.com

New book on SOE in Greece: The Extraordinary Life of Mike Cumberlege SOE

We are pleased to recommend a fascinating new book involving the SOE in Greece: The Extraordinary Life of Mike Cumberlege SOE by Robin Knight. This is the  first ever biography about Lt Cdr Mike Cumberlege DSO & Bar, Greek Medal of Honour, who was murdered in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp some time between February – March 1945. Mike Cumberlege served on the staff of General de Gaulle in London and in a number of undercover roles in Crete and Greece, before being captured during a second attempt to block the Corinth Canal in 1943. Robin Knight has gathered together unique material from Cumberlege’s family and others, to tell the story of Cumberlege’s life. Containing a good selection of photographs, our own archivist Noah Scott is credited with a contribution, along with many others. 163 pages. Hardback published by Fonthill Media LLC.

Records for 483 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 483 Greek veterans on our website, supplied from our archive. See the section headed ‘Greek Veterans’ for a list of all the names and links to their records. Please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com if you would like to know more about the veterans listed or you would like to provide us with information on these or other veterans (not mentioned here). We will forward all requests and any new information to our Archivist Noah Scott for his attention.

Seeking information on Major Henry Hill

If anyone has information on Major Henry Hill, please get in touch with us via email at greekveterans@gmail.com. His daughter is conducting research into her father’s time in Greece and Turkey.

Major Henry Hubert Hill was commissioned on the 1st July 1938. He was with the Royal Fusiliers. He volunteered for SOE and joined them in June 1943. He was parachuted into Greece on the 11th August 1943. He worked ferrying food etc. which was brought in from Turkey in caiques up to the fighters in the mountains. Later he was transferred up into the mountains.

 

Memorials unveiled in Pylos and Methoni

Also in May 2018, the Municipality of Pylos Nestor and the Pylos-Methoni WW2 Memorials Organising Committee of Australia arranged for the unveiling of two memorials commemorating and honouring those who lost their lives as a result of submarine attacks on two ships, which were taking allied PoWs from Libya to Italy, off the coasts of Pylos and Methoni in 1941 and 1942.

The ceremonies took place in Pylos and Methoni on Sunday 6th May and were well attended, including members of the Brotherhod who were in Greece for the annual Kalamata ceremony. 

These memorials form part of an initiative, supported by Jim Claven, an Australian journalist and historian, by Melbourne’s Panpyliaki and Pammessinia Brotherhood to develop a commemorative trail of memorials to Anzac troops at a number of locations across Greece.

Joe Burke

Joe (Joseph) Burke, RASC, PoW, died 10 January 2018, aged 98. The following notice was sent to us by Joe’s son.

Unclassified Report – For general circulation

Joseph Patrick Burke, Pte 134496. reported in dispatches from the far North as having successfully escaped to a better place on Tuesday 10th January 2018. Whilst his departure appeared to have been unplanned, and despite increased close personal observation, Pte. Burke was able to slip away quietly and peacefully at 0200 hours GMT. 3 Now believed to be happily reunited at an undisclosed location with his commanding officer and lifelong companion, code name Betty. Final debrief and remembrance planned for 1st February 2018 – further details to be announced. END

Joe was a great character. Generous, good company, wonderful sense of humour. He joined us in Kalamata a couple of times and Lichfield on several occasions. He never failed to make us laugh. Another man we feel very privileged to have known.

Jock Watt

Jock (Robert/Bob) Watt, 3rd RTR, died on 5 December 2017 and his funeral took place on 4 January 2018.

Jock was 98 years old and would have celebrated his 99th birthday in January 2018.

Several members of the Brotherhood attended his funeral in Leicestershire, including Father John and his wife Georgina, who sang the kontakion, which is from the Memorial Service we hold at the Greek Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum each year. His coffin was borne by ‘tankies’ and standards of the Nottingham Branch Royal Tank Regiment Association, 5 RTR Association and the Brotherhood of Veterans of the 1941 Greek Campaign were carried.

Jock had been a member of the Brotherhood since its early days. He regularly participated in both the Kalamata and National Memorial Arboretum Comemmoration Services and whenever he was present he always carried the Brotherhood standard.

In his retirement years Jock had become a prolific author and there was still a lot of books he planned to write. He was well known and much respected in Kalamata and following his death, messages of condolence were received from Nikos Zervis – our “Man in Kalamata” and Kontothanasis (Kostas) Konstantinos from the Mayor’s office.

Apart from the eulogy given by the priest who conducted the service, a tribute to Jock was also given by Brian Rogers, Secretary of the Nottingham Branch of the RTR Association, written below:

“Jock Watt, a long serving member of Nottingham Branch Royal Tank Regiment Association, our Vice President, a leader, adviser and a man of no nonsense. Highly respected… Jock was 3RTR through and through, rising from trooper to RSM, the youngest RSM in the British Army in WW11.

Jock served in France, Greece, and Crete & North Africa between 1937 – 1946 finishing as a Lieutenant, with the Military Medal and Mentioned in Despatches and was presented to our Colonel in Chief, Her Majesty the Queen more than once, a great honour for a great soldier.

But you know Jock, he had his lighter side, on one occasion in Cambrai, Jock asked where the toilet was; he was directed to the Town Hall where he was sent up the central staircase and looking around saw a fellow Tankie at the end of the corridor, ”Ah”, he thought “I’ll ask this chap”. As he advanced he realised he was talking to himself, it was a large mirror with his own reflection. However he eventually found his destination OK and loved to tell this tale and laugh at his own expense.

Over the past few years we have lost all our WWII veterans to the green fields but typically Jock was “last man standing” we would expect no less of him, would we? In recent times, Jock had not had the best of health but still enjoyed life and his writing, “A Tankie’s Tales” amongst other books, and he gave me a short poem, which I shall read:

“How wonderful it is just to be alive I cannot see to read and my writing is a scribble, But I feel the sun, hear the birds and really have no quibble, The pangs of hunger when I yawn tell me I’m still here, I just face the world of daily life and really have no fear, I burn my fingers, spill my tea, drop marmalade on the floor, But any problems causing stress, I just show them the door. “Jock Watt

Robert Jock Watt, thanks for everything. A great friend. A great man. A great Tankie. Rest in peace in the Green Fields, good soldier. Fear Naught.”

The eulogy says it all. There is no need for us to say any more, except that we all feel very privileged to have known Jock. The Brotherhood will miss him.