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.

Records for 474 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 474 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.

Seeking information on the Greek Tug ‘Zoodochus Pigi’

Bob Young, son of Able Seaman William (Bill) Patrick Young is seeking information on the Greek Tug Zoodochus Pigi on which his father served in 1941. The Zoodochus Pigi was sunk in Mikrolimano, next to the main port of Piraeus, by a Luftwaffe air attack, on 17 April 1941 and Bill managed to survive and escape imprisonment, after the fall of Greece to the Germans. Bob would like to know more about the circumstances surrounding his Dad’s service on the tug. If you have any information please email us at greekveterans@gmail.com and we will pass it on.

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.

New section on SOE in Greece added to website

We have added a new section on ‘SOE in Greece’ to our website. Drawing from a range of sources (which we reference), we have put together a few pages describing the exploits and endeavours of SOE agents who were active in Greece during the Second World War.

Alan Ogden’s book “Sons of Odysseus – SOE Heroes in Greece” published in 2012 by Bene Factum Publishing Limited is the best book to date on the SOE in Greece. Ogden describes the history of SOE in Greece as “controversial and convoluted” and he notes that no official history exists. We hope you enjoy reading about these extraordinary – and invariably maverick – individuals.