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.
The 78th anniversary and UK Reunion of the 1941 Greek campaign will be held in the Greek Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum Saturday 7th September 2019. Further details will be published nearer the time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
The date of the Service of Commemoration for the 78th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign in Kalamata has been set for Tuesday 14th May 2019. We will publish more details nearer the time and look forward to seeing you there.
If anyone has information on Major Henry Hill, please get in touch with us via email at email@example.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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us for the ceremony and/or would like more information.
This year’s service will be held at the National Memorial Arboretum, Lichfield on Saturday 8th September 2018 at 12.30pm (not 11.30am as previously advertised) in the Greek Grove, or if wet, in the Chapel. As in previous years, arrangements will be made for a buffet lunch after the service to be held locally. In addition, some of us use the opportunity to meet up and make a weekend of it, staying at nearby hotel. Please email us at email@example.com if you would like more information.