Yesterday was ANZAC DAY!
Australia and New Zealand’s major day to recognise the Military and the Service people that that have served their countries over the years.
Of course, this year was very significant as we also celebrate 100 years since the first World War ended.
Picture above: AUSTRALIANS gathered across the world to honour the nation’s fallen on Anzac Day yesterday — from London to the fields of France, from the beaches at Gallipoli to the streets of suburban Sydney.
The Anzac Memorials and the celebrations we attend on this momentous day are just a reminder of our brave past. It is a time when we think of the courageous, bold spirited Australian and New Zealanders. Those brave boys and men, young and not so young women as well, who sacrificed their families and love ones to spend time on the battlefields fighting for their country and world peace. We also remember the brave family’s, sweethearts and friends they left behind, who suffered loss and grieved for the ones that never came back to their beloved country that they so sacrificially served.
We have many a story of those days; I have many also that have been passed down to me from my family members that were part of the War effort.
However, I came across this one today and I thought it a touching story that just adds a little more colour to our Anzac history.
Lemnos Island is a Greek Island in the Northern part of the Aegean Sea. Most Australians would not know its history and the part that it played in the lives of many of our Australian Anzacs.
“Thousands of Australians travel to Turkey to see Gallipoli every year, but so few of you know the role Lemnos Island played in that campaign for the Anzacs. “We were the ones actually taking care of you, not trying to kill you, and yet we’re forgotten!” related a local guide from the Island.
His words are thought provoking! — Lemnos is one of the closest Greek Islands to the Turkish coast — which played a pivotal role in the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.
On March 4, 1915, about 3200 Australian soldiers landed on Lemnos. By April 21, about 200 ships had gathered at Mudros Harbour, the main port, and then left the island on the evening of April 24 for the dawn Gallipoli landings.
Lemnos was the place where the troops practised the landings, where the Anzacs disembarked for Gallipoli, where Australian nurses and medical staff established their hospitals, and where the sick and injured returned for treatment and other soldiers returned for periods of rest after the horrors of battle.
It’s also believed that Simpson’s donkey, which carried the wounded from the Gallipoli battlefront back to the medical services, came from Lemnos.
During the nine-month campaign, more than 50,000 Anzacs passed through Lemnos. It’s also where 148 Australians and 76 New Zealanders are buried in the two military cemeteries on opposite ends of the island, at East Mudros and at Portianou.
You don’t need to look too hard to see the pride the Lemnians have in their Anzac heritage — there’s an Anzac Trail along Anzac Street, an Anzac Pier, an Anzac display at the History and Maritime Tradition of Mudros Museum, and numerous commemorative stones across the island. This year for Anzac Day, a new plaque will be unveiled at Anzac Pier, which was built by the Diggers during their stay.
“So why is it so few of you even know about us?” the guide asked. “We’re so proud to have that connection between Greece and Australia, but it seems to have been overlooked.”
Lemnos’ role in history has been overshadowed by the carnage that happened at Gallipoli. With the eventual decision to abandon the Gallipoli campaign, troops were evacuated, and by early 1916 the last Australians departed Lemnos, with most then sent to northern France.
On October 30, 1918, Lemnos was again on the frontline of history when it was the location for the signing of the armistice between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies. Later this year, the centenary of the end of WWI will be commemorated in Lemnos
A trip around the island brings the history to life, you will see the Mudros Harbour Pier, the old Anzac Cafe in Portianou and open fields along the waterfront. Pictures of the Anzac troops in the same locations 100 years ago are presented to contrast the past and present. It does a bold job of vividly bringing history to life at each spot.
“The Lemnians treated the Anzacs like friends and allies, offering them a relaxing time and a safe place from the horrors that were going on only 50km away,” the guide continued. “That’s a relationship we’ve never forgotten.”
For all the magnificence of its history and its role in a defining era of Australian history, the island itself — an easy 45-minute flight from Athens — is one of the most stunning locations in the eastern chain of the Greek Islands. with the added bonus of a wealth of intriguing history.
Lemnos is the eighth-largest of the Greek islands. Gallipoli is only 50km away, but Aussie visitors who wish to see the tales that bind us closely together would best access the Turkish battlefields from Athens or by ferry from the mainland. *
* This information was soused from the link below.
By Yvonne Gentle, Secretary, Rise Up Australia Party