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.

 

Records for 468 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 468 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.

UK Reunion 76th anniversary at Lichfield 9th September 2017

This year we had an excellent turn out with 70 people attending the service. Fortunately, we had booked the chapel as the weather was very much like April – sun one minute and showers the next. After the service, between showers, we were able to take wreaths to the Greek Grove and lay them at our altar.

Father John and Father Theodoros conducted the service, accompanied by three other members of their church. All very moving as usual, and beautifully sung. We were delighted to once again to welcome representatives from the Australian, Greek and New Zealand Defence staff: Major David Rocco, Australian Army; Major Kostas Farmakis, Greek Army and Commander David Crossman, New Zealand Navy.

Our party included two 98 year old veterans – Frank Gill, our President, and Joe Burke. Jock Watt had planned to attend but, unfortunately, due to ill-health, was unable to join us. We were also very pleased to welcome a very sprightly 102 year old Mrs Dora Cooper, widow of L/Cpl Francis Cooper, of the 4th Q.O. Hussars, PoW, Stalag 18A.

Standards were carried by Alec Hamilton, Thomas Morgan, Colin Pleavin and David Sanderson. In addition to the wreaths laid by our special guests (see above) poppy tributes were also laid by Elizabeth Matthews, – Widows; Joe Burke – Prisoners of War; Frank Gill – Fallen Comrades; Geoff Swinnerton – Deceased Members and Mark Buttery on behalf of the Brotherhood. Geoff Swinnerton gave the oration. Len Cook, the bugler, played last post and reveille and Barry Parkin acted as Parade Marshall. Many thanks to all for their contribution.

Before they were famous …

As we continue the process of identifying the many brave and forgotten veterans of the 1941 Greek Campaign we have found quite a few famous names; individuals who went on to achieve great things after the war. Roald Dahl, Clive Dunn, Paddy Leigh Fermor and Donald Swann are just some of the people we have unearthed. If you know of any more please get in touch at greekveterans@gmail.com and we will add them to our website.

Records for 459 Greek veterans now on website

We now have records for 459 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 defenders of Kalamata of 1941 honoured in Greece and Australia

Jim Claven is a good friend of the Brotherhood and what follows are extracts from a recent article by Jim, published in Australia.

 By way of background, Jim is a freelance writer and trained historian holding both Bachelor and Masters Degrees from Melbourne’s Monash University. He has researched the Anzac trail in Greece across both World Wars, and especially the Hellenic connection to Anzac through the role of Lemnos in the Gallipoli campaign. He has been Secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee since its creation and is a member of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council. Jim can be contacted at jimclaven@yahoo.com.au

The defenders of Kalamata of 1941 honoured in Greece and Australia

” In May of this year, events were held in both Greece and Melbourne to commemorate the battle of Kalamata that took place in April 1941, the last engagement on the mainland of the Greek campaign.

As you drive down through Kalamata, one thing is true – all roads lead to the water. Indeed one of the attractions of Kalamata is its magnificent waterfront, with its views of the large bay to the south and the stretching arm of the Mani coast, almost tapering out to infinity.

Standing on the waterfront today it’s hard to imagine the scene we would have witnessed in late April 1941. We would have seen hundreds – indeed thousands of Allied troops – making their way along the city’s main north-south thorough-fares to the waterfront. Most would have made their way to their allotted assembly or rest areas on the outskirts of the town. The Anzacs among the throng would have made off to olive groves on the eastern end of the town. You can still see some of the surviving olive trees to this day.

You would have heard lots of languages and accents – along with the Aussie’s and Kiwi’s with their distinctive accents, British troops from across the United Kingdom and volunteers from Palestine were all there. And of course, those who came all the way from Cyprus to defend Greece would have been seen conversing with the Greek troops and locals.

The archives and memoirs are full of accounts of the welcome these poor soldiers received as they made their way through the town. People cheered them as they passed, older women offered the tired soldiers cake and retsina. And this made many of the soldiers sad and emotional.

For they had come to Kalamata’s waterfront at the end of a campaign that had seen many of them travel the length of Greece, only to fight a dogged retreat from Macedonia in the north, through the passes of central Greece and into the Peloponnese. And now they would await evacuation – most to Crete, some on to Egypt.

Thousands were evacuated, and yet thousands remained, facing either captivity or the uncertainty of evading capture. And only after they had fought and defeated the German advance guard that entered the city, hoping for an easy victory.

The events commemorated the battle that took place on the waterfront at Kalamata on the evening of the 28th April 1941, a battle that saw Australian, New Zealand and British troops defeat their German opponents. Amongst the honours awarded to the soldiers that night one– New Zealand’s Sergeant Jack Hinton – was awarded the Victoria Cross and another – Mildura’s Captain Albert Gray – the Military Cross for their bravery on that day. The commemoration also honours the role of Kalamata as one of the main embarkation points for Allied troops escaping capture and the support of the local population for their Allied defenders. Thousands were evacuated but thousands were captured when Allied ships could no longer safely embark troops from the harbor as the German forces approached…..

In May, the Kalamata authorities held a service at the Kalamata Memorial to the Greek campaign, which stands near the waterfront where the battle took place 76 years ago. This memorial was erected by the Brotherhood of Veterans of 1941 Greek Campaign (the Brotherhood) in 1994 and has been the location of the service for a number of years. I was fortunate to attend last year’s service. The Memorial inscription reads:

“In memory of the allied forces and the Greeks who fell at the Battle of Kalamata 28 April 1941 or who were taken prisoner or who escaped to fight again that the world might be free. Dedicated by the veterans of the campaign 17 May 1994.”….

This service in Kalamata was followed by a similar service at the Australian Hellenic Memorial organized by Melbourne’s The Society of Kalamata “23 March” and supported by the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council.

This service was also well attended. The convenors of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Greece – Mr. Steve Dimopoulos MP for Oakleigh and Mr. Murray Thompson MP for Sandringham – both took part in the commemorations, as did representatives of the Australian military, the Hon John Panadazopoulos (World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Union), Cr Kris Pavlidis (City of Whittlesea), Ms Christina Despoteris (Vice President of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee), various Greek community organizations and a number of descendents of Greek campaign veterans – including Ms Shirley Devery (daughter of Tom Devery of the 2/6th Battalion), Mr. Aron Segal (nephew of one of the Palestine Pioneers who served in the Greek campaign) and Mr. Peter Ford (son of Frank Ford of the New Zealand forces who took part in the campaign).

Mr. Sam Vlachos, Society of Kalamata Treasurer, delivered a presentation outlining the Greek campaign of 1941 and the battle of Kalamata , the last major engagement on ther Greek mainland of that campaign.

Mr. Peter Andrinopoulos, Society of Kalamata Public Relations Officer, thanked all for their attendance and reiterated the importance of holding this annual commemoration:

“The people of Kalamata welcomed the Anzacs to their city in April 1941, offering them their hospitality, all the while knowing that the campaign was drawing to an end. Many diggers wrote later over how moved they were by the kindness shown to them by the people of Kalamata. On this day Australians and Hellenes come together to honour both the Anzacs who fought to defend Greece and the people of Kalamata who aided them.”

Both services concluded with the reading of the Ode from Lawrence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen” which ends with the words “We shall remember them” – appropriate given the services that continue to be held in Melbourne where many Anzacs came from and in Kalamata where they served.