UK Reunion 81st anniversary 10th September 2022

As previously advised, this year’s service will be held in the Greek Grove, National Memorial  Arboretum, Lichfield at 11.30am on Saturday 10th September 2022, or, if wet, in the chapel at 12 noon.  Arrangements at the Arboretum are the same this year as in 2021. All visits must be pre-booked – up to two weeks in advance.  If booking online the email address is http://www.thenma.org.uk.  If you are arriving by car, please note that one ticket is required per four wheeled vehicle (cost £4.00) and  all passengers are included in the ticket.  If you cannot book online, phone NMA 01283 245 100. Please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com if you would like to join us for a buffet lunch after the service. Lunch will be held at a nearby venue, for which there is a small charge per person, payable on the day.

 

Back in Kalamata for the 81st anniversary service

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.

 

English translation of Nikos Zervis’s book: Kalamata – Occupation – Resistance – Liberation available to buy

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 greekveterans@gmail.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.

 

Kalamata 81st anniversary service 10th May 2022

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 greekveterans@gmail.com if you would like to join us for the ceremony and/or would like more information.

 

Veteran Story: Jane Pugh

This week we are pleased to feature Jane Pugh. Jane was a Nursing Sister with the 26th British Military Hospital in Athens. Jane arrived in Greece in November 1940 and was there until April 1941, when she was evacuated from Megara to Crete and then on to Egypt. Jane joined the Territorial Army Nursing Service (TANS) in 1938 and went on to serve with Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) throughout the war as a Lieutenant. Here is an extract from her story: 

“Within days of the German invasion 26 General Hospital was the only functioning military hospital in Greece. Soon bed space was scarce, tents were erected in the grounds as extra wards, and these had neither water supply nor sluices. The nurses worked like machines, admitting patients, preparing them for surgery, washing, feeding them then evacuating them. German air attacks on the Thessalonica to Athens road increased, and the sound of guns could be heard at Kiffisia. In addition to wounded allied soldiers, wounded German soldiers were being nursed. Doctors operated day and night and wore revolvers all the time. There were air raids, but the hospital itself was never bombed, although being close to Menidi Airfield, bombs fell close by.”

We are very grateful to her son, David Grant, for Jane’s story from his family history website. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY to read about Jane’s experiences. 

Read Jane Pugh’s Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran Story: Len Abbs

This week we are pleased to feature Len Abbs.  Len was one of the early members of The Brotherhood of Greek Veterans. He joined the RAF in 1938 where he trained in RAF photographic work before being posted to 9 Squadron then to 211 Squadron. He arrived in Greece in November 1940 and was there when the Germans invaded in April 1941. He was fortunate in being evacuated to Egypt.

Len was later posted to Sumatra where he was captured by the Japanese and became a PoW. He was one of the lucky ones to survive. He married Betty in 1947, had five daughters and lived to be 93 years of age before he passed away in 2014.

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY to read about Len’s experiences as well as information on 211 Squadron. 

Read Len Abbs’ Story  

Len is also featured on the website ‘Heroes of our Time’  https://heroesofourtime.co.uk/len-abbs.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Noah Scott for the Brotherhood Archive

After many years as our Archivist, Noah Scott has passed on the baton.

We wish to thank Noah for all his hard work and dedication in building and curating our 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 research and other sources. 

As well as spending many hours over the last few years putting the Archive together, including thousands of pages of documents, Noah has also committed a lot of time to conducting his own research. In addition, for many veterans, Noah has personally developed their stories and acted as their author. While some veterans may only have a small record (as per the registration forms we currently show for our veterans on the website), there are also those whose ‘stories’ literally run to hundreds of pages.

Noah very carefully constructed the Archive by setting up a Folder for every single veteran (over 540 of them)  and within each folder separate files : Foreword, Pre-Greece, Greek Campaign, Post-Greece and Post Script and sometimes Last Post. This means that in whatever form content has arrived into Noah’s inbox over the years (be this photos, news cuttings, POW questionnaires, verbatim memories, books etc) Noah has deconstructed this content and then written/crafted it in order to populate each file correctly.

In developing the Archive, Noah has captured not just people’s activities as part of the Greek Campaign but, where possible, their whole stories. In order to help future researchers or family members, Noah has also pulled in content, where relevant, from other sources like Wikipedia or official accounts, in order to paint a picture and to tell the story, where possible, for many veterans.

To find out more about Noah’s approach to the Archive please click on the link below.

La Raison d’Etre by Noah Scott

As we have previously stated, Noah’s endeavours may well have gone unrecognised without the time Mary Peterkin (Sanderson) has spent this year, painstakingly taking Noah’s content and transferring the records and stories (literally piece by piece) onto the website.

This has been a major achievement, as it means not only is all of Noah’s hard work and dedication visible for all to see, but we also now have a very substantial and lasting legacy, not just for a few famous veterans who we know about or who have written books, but just as importantly many unknown and unsung heroes of this ill-fated campaign.

David and Mary Sanderson have now taken over the Archive function. Given that we are now receiving veterans’ stories from children and grandchildren, we have developed a couple of proformas which we are asking people to complete if they wish their relative to be added to the Archive. Please contact us at greekveterans@gmail.com if you wish to add a veteran to the Archive.

 

Veteran Story: Eric Sanderson

This week we are pleased to feature Trooper Eric Rockcliff Sanderson of the QO 4th Hussars, father of David Sanderson our Chairman. 

Eric joined the 4th Hussars in 1938. In early 1941 he found himself in northern Greece, and on 6th April 1941, the day after his 21st birthday, he woke to learn that Germany had invaded northern Greece. As a tank driver at the rear end of the retreat to the ports in the south, Eric was one of around 8,000 men left behind in late April 1941. He took to the Taygetos mountains where some 800 men attempted to make their way even further south hoping that a boat would come to take them to safety. Most of these “evaders” were caught pretty quickly. Eric did very well as he managed to avoid  capture for several months until late October, when he was captured by the Italians and taken as a PoW to Italy. Following the Italian collapse in September 1943, Eric was then taken by the Germans to Germany. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Eric’s  experiences. You will also find links to information about the QO 4th Hussars. 

Read Eric Sanderson’s Story 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kalamata and UK Reunions 2022 – 81st Anniversary of Greek Campaign

We do not yet have a date for the Kalamata Reunion in 2022 but we hope this will be held the week commencing 9th May 2022. Based on previous years, the ceremony is usually held on a Tuesday which would be 10th May 2022. We will publish an update when we know more.

The UK Reunion at Lichfield will be held Saturday 10th September 2022. More information will follow in due course.