Anzac Centenary Commemorations on Lemnos and Athens
The Centenary of Anzac events were held in Greece and were the most extensive ever held. They included many events held on the Island of Lemnos - the forward base of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, where Australia’s nurses served throughout the campaign and where 148 diggers remain buried - as well as on Anzac Day itself in Athens. The Melbourne-based Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee (LGCC), along with the NSW-based Lemnos 1915 group, assisted organizing and actively participated in many of these events. They collaborated with the Australian Embassy in Greece, the Embassy of Canada, the Royal Australian Navy and HMAS Success, Commonwealth War Graves Commissions, the Athens War Museum, Hellenic Navy and the Lemnos Friends of Anzac.
These events included:
- The unveiling of the new nurses memorial at Portianos Military Cemetery, the result of much lobbying and effort by his Excellency Robert Peck, ambassador of Canada to Greece, along with the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- A viewing of Australia’s Anzac Girls docu-drama at Portianou
- The involvement of the ship’s crew of the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success, in Mudros Bay - the first visit of an Australian warship into the bay since 1918.
- Major wreath-laying ceremonies at east Mudros and Portianos Military Cemeteries, as well as at the Anzac Memorial at Mudros harbour, with representatives of our Committee laying wreaths at these event
- A major military and community parade at Mudros
- The historic re-enactment of the famous 1915 football match on Lemnos - re-enacted by teams from HMAS Success and the Hellenic Army based on Lemnos
- The presentation by Lemnos 1915 to the Lemnos authorities of a reproduction of the famous painting – The Lemnians by Sir William Russell Flint– held by the Art Gallery of NSW
- A folkloric dance event was held at the Myrina Theatre, representing the dances of Asia Minor refuges who came to Lemnos after WW1
- Assistance to the Canadian Embassy and the descendents of the 3rd AGH’s Matron Grace Wilson in touring of the key Anzac sites
- Anzac Day dawn service on HMAS Success at Piraeus, Athens
- Anzac Day Wreath-laying ceremony at Phaleron Military Cemetery, Athens, followed by a reception at the Australian Embassy
- Anzac Day Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee photographic exhibition and presentation at the Athens War Museum.
Sailors from HMAS Success who took part in the Anzac services on Lemnos and in Athens
The Lemnos1915 WW1 Commemorative Committee (Lemnian Association of NSW) together with the GreekConsul General Sydney, Dr Stavros Kyrimis created the following commemorative Anzac/Lemnos story events.
- Lemnos1915 Commemorations for the Anzac Centenary began on 4th March with a dawn service at the Cenotaphat Sydney’s Martin Place. It was 100 years to the day that the first Australian Anzacs arrived on Lemnos. The dawn service was supported by the Australian Defence who provided an Army Band and Catafalque Party. Attendees were from various Consular Corps, Canada, New Zealand Great Britain, and state and federal politicians.
- The State Library of NSW featured a photographic exhibition of Cheryl Ward and Bernard DeBroglio’s “Then and Now” images of the A W Savage photos from 1915 (see above ) . The Greek Festival presents Cheryl Ward’s play ‘Towards Lemnos’.
- A Special event was held at The Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney to commemorate the departure of the Allies on 24th April 1915 from Mudros Harbour.
- Photographic exhibitions featuring Life of Lemnos from the State Library of NSW W Savage Collection occurred at Rockdale Town Hall, Homebush and Waverley Libraries.
- Lemnos1915 program was promoted in the Sydney’s Greek Festival;
- The Hellenic Lyceum produced 1915 Commemoration Concert featuring guest dance groups from the Lyceum in Lemnos and Kavala, Greece.
- Ms Claire Ashton and her contingent of Australian and NZ nurses traveled to Lemnos in September 2015 to re-enact the march of the Anzac nurses in 1915.
“Then and Now” image of Portianos Military Cemetery. Original photo by A.W. Savage | The firing after the Burial. Lemnos Island, c. 1915 | Courtesy of the State Library of NSW
The Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial was unveiled in Melbourne’s Albert Park following over three years of fundraising and raising awareness by Melbourne’s Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee. The date was chosen because it was the centenary of the arrival of Australia’s nurses on Lemnos. The Memorial was designed and created by one of Australia’s best known commemorative sculptors, Peter Corlett, OAM. It features the figures of a nurse, standing protectively over a sick or wounded soldier. The statues stand and rest on the stone plinth, the colour of the stone of Lemnos’ ancient amphitheatre at Hepheastia, with the words Gallipoli and Lemnos as well as the names of many of the villages visited by the Anzacs in 1915. The Memorial is completed by an information board telling some of the storyof Lemnos’ link to Anzac. The Memorial is located near Port Melbourne’s famous piers from which Australia’s diggers and nurses departed during the First World War. It has been gifted to the City of Port Philip for their care and on-going maintenance. The Committee will continue to hold commemorative services at the Memorial in future years.
11 November - Remembrance Day
Australia’s most famous Indigenous officer, Captain Reg Saunders, was honoured at the Australian War Memorial with a new gallery bearing his name. Captain Saunders served in Greece, Crete, and New Guinea in WWII, before fighting in the Korean War. It was the first time a room at the War Memorial was named after a person. The ceremony was witnessed by his extended family and members of the Cretan and Greek communities.