The Hellenic Club, in conjunction with the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle of Crete & The Greek Campaign, hosted its annual ANZACs of Greece luncheon on Wednesday 24 April, this year commemorating ‘The ANZACs in Lemnos’.
In attendance was the Governor Designate of NSW, the Hon. Margaret Joan Beazley AO QC (who will take over as Governor in May), a representative from the office of the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, the Consul General of New Zealand, as well as Federal, State and Local government representatives, Greek community organisations, RSL representatives, families of service men and women and other distinguished guests.
The president of the Hellenic Club, Nikolas Hatzistergos, welcomed attendees to the luncheon and stated that for many years, service men and women attended the traditional lunch held at the Hellenic Restaurant after the annual ANZAC Day March. “We tip our hat to the many ANZACs and diggers who in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s used to congregate on the fifth floor of the Hellenic Club across the road at the end of the ANZAC Day march…We acknowledge all of them today, all the sacrifices that they made so we can enjoy the lifestyle we have today,” he stated.
Guest speaker, the Hon. Margaret Joan Beazley AO QC, gave a very insightful historical speech about the role Lemnos played in the ANZAC campaign and ended with a quote that “sums up the nurses experience in Lemnos by nurse Nellie Pike ‘we were all glad to be taking part in the great adventure. They were grim and tragic, but somehow inspiring days’. So I think with that spirit, not only ANZAC, but that spirit for Lemnos let us commemorate a very sad but significant time in Australian history, and in all commemorations as we have done with ANZAC, move towards reconciliation.”
The Hon. Anthony John Sidoti, Member for Drummoyne and Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans said that “Lemnos was where the ANZACs prepared for the ill fated Gallipoli Campaign. More than 50,000 ANZACs bound for the peninsula passed through Lemnos…which also became a place of temporary refuge for soldiers who needed a break from battle. The island is where 220 Australians and New Zealanders are buried. It has a significant role in history and the war…In honour and memory of the ANZAC service men and women let us all remember the brave people in Lemnos and the place in history as the island where an agreement was reached to stop fighting.”
Commanding Officer of HMAS Watson, Captain John Stavridis spoke about the ANZAC history which is particularly important to him, and the naval aspects which are less known about the ANZAC campaign. “During the campaign the Lemnians and the ANZACs formed very lasting bonds. There is an ANZAC museum in Lemnos and a simple sign that explains that bond. Despite the tragic outcome of the campaign, it reads ‘Australian and New Zealanders left Lemnos with noble memories of the kind treatment and assistance they received from the locals.’” He continued to state that “what you may not know is that on the 25th April, the ANZACs were being supported by our navy in the least likely of places, from under the sea in the submarine HMAS AE2…No doubt the sailors in AE2 saved many ANZACs.”
*All images by Nick Bourdaniotis Photography (Copyright)
Lemnos - The Anzac Heritage
Lemnos was the major base of operations for the Gallipoli campaign.
On March 4th, 1915, over 3,000 Australian soldiers, troops, nurses and medical staff landed on the Greek Island of Lemnos, which was provided as a base for Australian and New Zealand forces. It was the island where the Australian nurses and medical staff established their hospitals, where the sick and injured soldiers returned for treatment and where the soldiers returned for brief periods of rest.
Over 300 Australian nurses who were all volunteers, served on the island of Lemnos in over 10 hospitals. When Australian troops finally retreated from Gallipoli in December 1915, they returned to Lemnos to find solace and rest.
To this day, Lemnos is the site of two Commonwealth War Graves, where many Australians and New Zealanders are buried.
The people of Lemnos welcomed the Australians as allies and friends of theirs, allowing access to their land and resources for as long as they needed. For those brave soldiers that were wounded, Lemnos represented a place where they could recover and find joy away from the atrocities occurring around ANZAC Cove.
Through these times, the people of Australia and the people of Lemnos forged a bond which will last for all of eternity.
*History Source: The Lemnos