Cancelled: 79th anniversary and UK Reunion Saturday 12th September 2020

We are very sorry to announce that the 79th anniversary and UK Reunion of the 1941 Greek campaign in September has been cancelled.

The service was due to take place at 11.30am  in the Greek Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday 12th September 2020.

Government guidelines allow gatherings of up to 30 people (at present)  and the numbers at our service in the Greek Grove are always in excess of this. In addition, the Arboretum is not allowing any indoor events to take place, so the Chapel would not be available (in case of wet weather).

We are very disappointed that we will not to be able to get together as planned, but look forward to seeing everyone again at a future Reunion.

Update on 79th anniversary in UK: Saturday 12th September 2020

Currently, we are still hoping to hold the 79th anniversary and UK Reunion of the 1941 Greek campaign in September as planned. The service is scheduled for 11.30am  in the Greek Grove (or if wet, in the chapel at 12 noon) at the National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday 12th September 2020. Further updates and details will be published nearer the time.

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.

In the footsteps of the Anzacs

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.

Virtual commemoration held for 79th Kalamata anniversary

As previously posted,  we weren’t able to hold our usual service in Kalamata in May.  Instead, we held a virtual gathering on Tuesday 14 May by Zoom. There were 17 of us with representatives from UK, Greece and Australia. Our virtual ceremony included photos from last year, an oration, as well as the last post, silence and a reveille. And although there was no official commemoration in Kalamata, a wreath was laid by the Mayor Mr Athanasios Vasilopoulos and three other dignataries on behalf of the the Municipality.

 

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.

 

Records for 505 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 505 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.

Records for 500 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 500 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.

The planned commemoration in Kalamata for 79th anniversary has been cancelled due to COVID-19

We are very sorry to announce that the Service of Commemoration for the 79th anniversary of the  1941 Greek Campaign in Kalamata due to be held on Tuesday 12th May 2020 has been cancelled. We received an email from the Mayor of Kalamata this week. Here is an extract from his message.

“According to the information so far and the prohibitions applied to our country… we are not in the position of fulfilling this year everything we would wish to. Not being able to know the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic within the next two weeks, we have decided to cancel the ceremony for the 79th anniversary of the historic Battle of Kalamata. In honour of the people who lost their lives, a wreath will be laid by the Municipality. 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the historic Battle of Kalamata and we will ensure that this ceremony will cover this year’s cancellation. I hope you are well and soon positive information on COVID-19 treatment to be released.

Yours faithfully, The Mayor of Kalamata Athanasios P. Vasilopoulos “