Jim Claven, Australian author, historian and journalist has been working on the provision of memorial plaques at strategic sites across Greece. The plaques for Lemnos, Pylos and Methoni were installed in 2018. Further plaques, including one for Kalamata and one for Trachila, were due to be erected in 2020 but due to Covid and subsequent customs problems this has not yet happened. The plaques have now cleared customs. Jim had discussions with the Mayor of Kalamata this summer when he was in Kalamata and is due to see him again in Melbourne. The proposal is to have the Kalamata plaque placed on the waterfront, on a corner where the final engagement took place.The wording on the Kalamata plaque is as follows:
Battle of Kalamata Waterfront Memorial
To the memory of the servicemen of all nations who fell during the battle of Kalamata waterfront which took place near this spot on the morning of 28 April 1941, and to Captain Albert Gray of Red Cliffs in Victoria, Sergeant Jack Hinton of Colac Bay in New Zealand and the Australian, New Zealand and British troops who took part in the successful assault on the German position on this waterfront during the battle. For their bravery that day Sergeant Hinton was awarded the Victoria Cross and Captain Gray the Military Cross.
For our UK group, having missed the 2020 and 2021 services, it was absolutely wonderful to be back, once again, in Kalamata. The commemoration was held Tuesday 10th May at 11.00 a.m. at the Memorial in the Railway Park. The Mayor, Mr Athanasios Vasilopoulos, was unfortunately unable to attend, but was ably represented by the Deputy Mayor, Mr George Favas. Also in attendance was Captain Alex Bush, Defence Attaché from the British Embassy in Athens, as well as other civic and military dignitaries. The Deputy Mayor gave an address, followed by Captain Bush. Then Janet Parkin said a few words – once again reiterating that the Greek Campaign must not be forgotten, and thanked the City of Kalamata for continuing to be so supportive and for organizing “this important Annual Act of Remembrance”. Barry Parkin gave the oration. Laurel wreaths were laid by the Greek dignitaries and poppy tributes were laid by Captain Alex Bush and by the following Brotherhood representatives: Lorraine Gill in Remembrance of the Prisoners of War; Mrs Di Billnge on behalf of the Widows; Mrs Tricia Cruise In Memory of Deceased Members; Doug (Buster) Beckett on behalf of the Brotherhood of Veterans of the 1941 Greek Campaign and Jane Thomas on behalf of the British Residents of Kalamata. We were also joined this year by Mr Ronen Polovian who laid a wreath on behalf of the Jewish Pioneer Families Association. After the service we enjoyed refreshments in the Railway Park, generously hosted as usual by the Kalamata City Council. Many thanks also go to Astri Mavrea, Press and PR Officer at Kalamata City Hall for all her help and support.
The Brotherhood is pleased to announce the translation into English of Nikos Zervis’s book “Kalamata – Occupation-Resistance-Liberation”. With kind permission of the Zervis family, David Sanderson, Brotherhood Chairman, has arranged for this translation by Nigel Davidson and Vasiliki Kyriazopoulo.
Nikos was “Our Man in Kalamata” and he supported the Brotherhood at all its services held in Greece. Nikos was born and lived in Kalamata, witnessing first-hand the experience of occupation by Germany and Italy.
His book includes notices posted by the German occupiers, restricting hours of circulation by Kalamata residents, and the closure of shops. Private citizens were forbidden from coming into contact with English prisoners, or of supplying food to them, for which they would be shot. Any Greek hiding or protecting or who knew the whereabouts of any English soldier (which of course included any allied soldier) had to declare the fact to the nearest police authority within 24 hours, or face arrest and being shot. Fortunately many Greeks ignored these orders, despite the very grave risks involved. The Italians took over control of Kalamata from the Germans on 6th June 1941.
Nikos describes the difficulties of living with the occupiers with early evidence of it displayed in Autumn 1941 at the High School for Boys. A Zoology class had been asked to name the enemies of the hen. These were easily identified as the fox, predatory birds and other creatures, but a pupil then suggested that another enemy was the Italian soldier! This caused the pupils great hilarity, but for the teacher it was no laughing matter – if it got back to the Italian authorities – there could be severe consequences. A full enquiry into the incident had to be undertaken to avoid such problems.
Nikos outlines how organised resistance started as early as June 1941 with the birth of the New Friendly Company, formed by the people’s fighters, a communist group. News articles were published and distributed at great risk to the participants. The growth of the resistance parties is then described.
One hundred copies have been printed, and are available from our Chairman, David Sanderson, who can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com. The price of the book (UK mainland only) is £19.95 inclusive of postage. We hope to make copies available beyond the UK in due course. All profits made by the sale of the book will go to the Brotherhood of Greek Veterans so by purchasing the book you will be supporting the Brotherhood.
This year’s commemoration in Kalamata of the 1941 Greek Campaign has been scheduled for Tuesday 10th May 2022 (depending on Covid situation). Several airlines fly direct to Kalamata: Ryanair and Jet2 from Stansted, easyJet from Gatwick and Jet2 from Manchester. Some of us stay at the Haikos Hotel which we book directly. In addition, Thomas Cook offer package holidays to Kalamata. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us for the ceremony and/or would like more information.
Kalamata City Council will be marking the 80th Anniversary with two events this week.
The first event will be held today, Thursday 13th May with a commemorative evening including speeches and a lecture on “Historical Elements of the Battle of Kalamata” by Dr Marios Athanasopoulos of the Philology Department, University of the Peloponnese. David Sanderson, Chairman of the Brotherhood and Janet Parkin, Secretary, have been invited to participate by zoom and make short speeches. The Defence Attaché, Captain Alex Bush RN will be represented by Sqn Ldr Marcus Fountain. The event will be available to view live on YouTube and on Facebook 6.00pm UK time.
The second event will take place tomorrow, Friday 14th May with a wreath laying ceremony and speeches at the memorial in Kalamata. A speech prepared by Janet Parkin will given by Jane Thomas and a poppy wreath laid on behalf of The Brotherhood by Di Billinge. Sq Ldr Marcus Fountain will lay a wreath on behalf of The Government of the United Kingdom.
The second document is from The Municipal Council of Kalamata recommending that both Edwin and Sir Patrick ‘Paddy’ Leigh Fermor be awarded the Freedom of The City of Kalamata. This can can found at the foot of the section on Kalamata.
We had previously announced that this year’s service in Kalamata was scheduled to be held on Tuesday 18th May 2021. We had very much hoped that travel restrictions would have been eased by then so we could travel to Greece. Unfortunately not. Due to UK lockdown restrictions, international travel is not permitted until after 17th May 2021, at the very earliest. As a result, we will not be going ahead with our ceremony as planned. We are very sorry about this, not least as it is the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign. It is quite possible that the Mayor may arrange for a simple wreath laying service locally on that date. We will let you know if that is the case.
The date of this year’s service is planned for Tuesday 18th May 2021. We are hoping that travel restrictions will be eased by then and travel to Kalamata will be possible, and that arrivals in Greece will not have to self-isolate as they do at the moment. We should have a better idea by Easter and will update you when we know more. In the meantime, you should be able to check which airlines will be flying to Kalamata or Athens and also hotel options. We will keep you posted.
We are hoping to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign in Kalamata next May, week commencing 17th May 2021. We have heard from the Mayor of Kalamata that they are currently planning to hold the service on Tuesday 18th May 2021. However, everything will depend on how things develop with the pandemic here and in Greece. Please note that nothing can be confirmed at this stage. We will provide more information as and when we know more.
Jim Claven, Honorary Member of the Greek Veterans group, Australian Historian and Journalist, has been researching the Anzac Trail across Greece from the archives in Australia and also on the ground in Greece, with a view to having memorial plaques erected at appropriate sites.
Tens of thousands of Allied troops made their way across the Peloponnese in the latter days of the Greek Campaign on the mainland. This fighting retreat saw a number of deadly engagements – Corinth Canal, Tolos and finally at the waterfront at Kalamata.
The trail concept is to connect Greece’s existing Anzac-related memorials and work to erect new ones. Not only will this commemorate Greece’s link to Anzac but will also assist descendants and other commemorative travelers in their desire to walk the footsteps of the Anzacs in the First and Second World Wars.
Three plaques were unveiled as part of the Anzac Trail in 2018 – at Lemnos, Pylos, and Methoni. Six other memorials were due to be erected and unveiled this year – two at Corinth, two at Lemnos, one on the Kalamata waterfront to commemorate the battle fought on 28th April 1941 and one at Trachila, about 33 miles/53 kms south of Kalamata to commemorate the evacuation of allied escapers and evaders from the coastal villages of the Mani.
However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic these have been postponed until 2021. We are hoping that we will be able to co-ordinate our visit to Kalamata in May 2021 with the Kalamata and Trachila unveilings.