Veteran Story: Frank Gill

We are pleased to feature Frank Gill’s story this week. Frank was President of The Brotherhood of Greek Veterans for many years, until he sadly passed away last November, aged 101. As a veteran Frank survived the Hellas, was a prisoner of war, a founder member of The Brotherhood and author of the book ‘A Letter to my Daughter’. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Frank’s experiences. We also include a link to the Tribute posted on this website, not long after Frank passed away.

Read Frank Gill’s story

Tribute to Frank Gill, our President for many years

Veteran story: Jack Simmonds

As many of you are aware, one of the last known surviving veterans, Rifleman John (Jack) Simmonds 9th KRRC (1st Rangers) had his 101st birthday in February this year. In March 1941, 80 years ago this week, Jack arrived in Greece. It is only fitting that Jack’s story should be the first one we feature in this 80th anniversary year.  Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Jack’s experiences.

Read Jack Simmonds Story

 

Sharing veterans’ stories in the 80th anniversary year

We are pleased to say that the majority of our Archive (including a section on the Royal Navy) is now available to view on our website. For every veteran listed we have been able to provide a summary record. For others, we also have a copy of their POW questionnaire/debrief. For the rest, we have a comprehensive story comprising their time Pre Greece, during the Greek Campaign, Post Greece and sometimes a Post Script about their life after the war.

In honour of the 80th anniversary, we plan to publish a series of ‘posts’ during the rest of this year, featuring different veterans. Our aim is to introduce you to a whole host of amazing individuals and their (even more) amazing stories.

 

Breaking news: we are publishing the contents of our Archive on our website

As you may or may not be aware, our Archivist Noah Scott has spent the last few years building and curating The Brotherhood Archive. It is based on accounts from individuals who were involved in some way in the Greek Campaign, the majority of whom are (or were) members of the Brotherhood, supplemented by information from our research and other sources. In developing the Archive, Noah has captured – not just people’s activities as part of the Greek Campaign – but where possible, their whole stories. Typically we have gathered information as follows:

  • Registration Form
  • Foreword (including published works if appropriate)
  • Pre-Greece (UK training, passage to Suez, time in Egypt etc)
  • Greek Campaign (advance, withdrawal, evacuation, surrender)
  • Post-Greece (further military career or Prisoner of War)
  • Post-Script and Last Post

Our Archive currently consists of information on 540 Greek Veterans whose stories (in terms of detail) range as follows:

  • Basic information (as per the Registration Form for all veterans who are listed)
  • POW questionnaires and debriefs
  • Detailed and comprehensive stories

We are pleased to tell you that, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign, we have embarked on an extensive programme to publish the contents of our Archive on our website. For every single veteran listed on this website (where we have the information) we are adding their story. We are half way through this project and have uploaded information we hold in our Archive for surnames beginning A to L, namely Abbs to Lugg. 

To access the individual chapters of these stories, you will need to click on the person’s name to open up their Registration Form. Then scroll down until you come to STORY. Under this, you will find a short introduction and a series of headings/links which will take you to the relevant PDF files.

We will update you again when we have completed this (not insignificant) task. In the coming months we also plan to showcase key veterans and their stories to encourage people to explore and get to know these amazing individuals.

 

Books added to Resources section of the website

We have added more books to the Resources section – as recommended by our members :

Platon Alexiades, Target Corinth Canal 1940-1944, 2015

Stanley Casson, Greece Against the Axis, 1941

Robert Crisp, The Gods Were Neutral, A story of the Greek Campaign 1941, 1960

Roger Field, Geoffrey Gordo and N. Creed, Rogue Male, Sabotage and Seduction behind Enemy Lines with Geoffrey Gordon-Creed DSO, MC, 2012

Adrian Gilbert The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War 1940-42

Francis S. Jones, Escape to Nowhere, 1952

Francis S. Jones, Hit or Miss, The Adventures of Driver Randle Barlow, 1954

Michael Woodbine Parish, Aegean Aventures 1940-1943 and the end of Churchill’s Dream, 1993

Miles Reid MC, Last on the List, 1974 (first written in 1942 when events were still fresh in his mind).  Interestingly, there is mention in the book of a Trooper Cooper who turns out to be L/Cpl Francis Herbert (Sherry) Cooper 4th QO Hussars, later PoW, the husband of Dora and the father of Cyril. Cyril  has attended our UK Reunions regularly with Dora.

 

Jack Wentworth Ansell featured in BBC VE Day programme

Jack Wentworth Ansell, Royal Corps of Signals, PoW, Kalamata.

Jack was featured on the recent BBC VE Day programme where he was one of three WW2 veterans who gave lengthy interviews. He talked about his time as a PoW and about a book of poems by British Prisoners of War in Austria which he had put together, having found a typewriter which the Germans left behind when they left the camp on 8 May 1945 and the prisoners took control. “Whilst waiting, with several thousand other former British prisoners of war to be repatriated to the United Kingdom, I set up shop with my typewriter. Men came to me with these poems written on scraps of paper for me to type out”.  In 2002 Jack gave the original carbon copies to the Imperial War Museum who now hold it as a printed document in their Printed Books Department.  Jack’s interview was actually recorded in July 2019 as part of 3945portraits.com.  Sadly Jack died in January 2020 and so was not able to see the VE Day programme himself.

Two more SOE agents added to website

We have added two more SOE agents to our website (see section titled SOE in Greece).

Michael Ward SOE agent who endured a 500 mile trek in occupied Greece while gathering information on the enemy and divided partisans. (copyright The Times – taken from obituary column 11th April 2011).

Ronald Adolphus Haggar British NCO who served as wireless operator with Special Operations Executive in Palestine and Lebanon, 1941-1942; served aboard The Armadillo, No 14, Levant Fishing Patrol, Force 133 and Special Operations Executive in Aegean Sea, 1943-1944 (notes taken from Imperial War Museum Sound Archive interview).

We hope you enjoy finding out about these two extraordinary individuals.

 

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.

Seeking information on Major Doelberg

Ms Raine Bryant,  granddaughter of Major Julian Frederic Doelberg, Royal Engineers, Service number 18318, is seeking information about her grandfather who died on 29 April 1941. Raine believes he had been on a special mission to help delay the advance of the German forces during the Allied evacuation. As part of this evacuation, Major Doelberg and other allied soldiers had hired a Greek ship, loaded with hay, to evacuate to Crete. As they were trying to repair a broken engine, two German aircraft strafed the boat. Most soldiers jumped in the sea. Major Doelberg, along with six other soldiers, died and were buried by the villagers of Proastion (in southern Peloponnese) on the Kaminia (also called Delfinia) beach. The ship burned and sank. A year later the bodies were exhumed and buried in the local cemetery. In the Autumn of 1944 a British warship arrived at Kalamitsi beach, and a military chaplain, followed by a Cypriot interpreter, went to the village, where a service was held, the bones were exhumed again and were carried to the ship. The bones were finally laid to rest at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens. If you have any information, however little, please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com and we will forward it on. Many thanks.