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.

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.

77th Anniversary UK Reunion 2018 updated time

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 greekveterans@gmail.com if you would like more information.

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.

Joe Burke, another great veteran has passed away

We are very sad to announce that Joe Burke has also passed away, quietly and peacefully, on Tuesday 10th January 2019. Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends.

We understand that a remembrance service is planned for 1st February 2018, although we do not have any details at present. If you wish to get in touch, please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com.

Joe was a lovely man, a very committed and generous member of the Greek Veterans and a real character. He will be greatly missed.

Robert ‘Jock’ Watt sad news

We are very sad to announce that Jock Watt passed away, peacefully, on 5th December 2017. Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends.

Jock’s  funeral will be held in Leicestershire on Thursday 4th January 2018. Should you wish to attend, send flowers or make a donation to the family’s chosen charity, please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com.

In the New Year, we will post an article to celebrate and commemorate Jock’s long and eventful life. Jock was an amazing man, truly ‘one of a kind’ and will be greatly missed by us all.