War through Hellenic eyes
Ex-warrant officer Peter Adamis shares with us his personal account of what it’s like to be a Greek Australian soldier fighting for your country and what the spirit of ANZAC means to him
So it was for me trudging along these Papuan New Guinea mountain highlands keeping my courage and endurance up by the thoughts not letting the old ANZAC spirit down. At times we would sit amongst the shallows in the ground to rest from the heat and the millions of insects that hovered above us. Only when we lay down exhausted did we realise that we were lying on a grave of an Unknown Japanese soldier. This was often evidenced from the helmets and other equipment found protruding from their earthly resting places. These shallow graves were always found to be quite still with nary a sound emanating from them as if they were silent guardians of those whom they held in their embrace below the surface. Many years later I would read of a Japanese soldier who returned back to Papua New Guinea and collected as many of the bones of his comrades to be returned back to Japan.
He ended up being called the Bone Collector who left behind a monument to commemorate the Japanese soldiers who had also died there.
Many Australians’ never forgave the Japanese because of how they treated their mates when they were prisoner of War and the atrocities that accompanied them. Others like Weary Dunlop found the courage to do the exact opposite and expressed his forgiveness even though he was a prisoner of war himself and knew firsthand what it was like to suffer at the hands of his captors.
Still like his ANZAC forebears of the WW1 at Gallipoli who also fought a formidable and well entrenched foe, the Turkish soldier, found the time to forgive the Japanese. It is this forgiveness of one’s foe that makes the story of ANZAC Day have a greater meaning other than just one of remembrance. The nations of Australia and Turkey had buried their differences many years ago and there is now mutual respect of each other’s fighting abilities. Likewise recently the Japanese Government apologised to the Australian people for the atrocities caused by a nation embedded in the art of warfare and now the healing is becoming a reality.
ANZAC Day origins can be attributed to a Catholic Priest who conducted the first dawn service at Albany, WA. The priest is buried at Herberton North Queensland. From these small sparks, arose a huge bonfire of grief and relief for those who had lost their young ones in the prime of their life. The simple ceremonies soon took ablaze and it was not long before to find that they were being duplicated on a massive scale across the Australian nation, healing the unseen wounds of grief and sorrow.
On a personal note, ANZAC Day to me means a time to Remember those that have fallen to Revere their sacrifice, Respect their courage and valour and to Reflect that War is not something to celebrate.
This is the true meaning of ANZAC Day to me, remembrance, for those who gave their all for a freedom they would never see. Loyalty, sharing the load, burdens of responsibility and hardship as cobbers can only understand as well as a respect and forgiveness for one’s foe after the battle has been won or lost.
A legacy all ANZACS leave behind is that those they leave behind to carry on, a mateship that would test the challenges of life and time. It is not about glorifying war, about flying the flag or dying for it, but a true love of life and living according to ones code, beliefs and doing the right thing.
Like the Ancient Hellenes (Greeks as the Romans called them) who created a legend some 2400 years ago at Thermopylae against overwhelming odds, the Persians; so is Gallipoli one place that is forever etched in the minds of all Australians’, no matter what their origins are. All are in agreement that ANZAC Day holds a special place in the hearts and minds of all Australians.
The legacy forged in blood in Gallipoli has never dimmed and generations of our military have carried the torch, be it World War One or Two and subsequent campaigns since 1945. In short, from ANZAC to the current operations in Afghanistan
The battle of the Kokoda Track during WW2 built on the glory of the original ANZACS (who fought against the formidable Turk) by delaying the indomitable Japanese soldier long enough to bring up reinforcements and drive them back to the sea and thus creating a legend of their own being called The Australian Thermopylae. While 2400 years ago, the Greeks with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians at Thermopylae fought a struggle to the death, Australians of Hellenic Heritage also fought at Gallipoli alongside their Australians cobbers. The names of the Australians of Hellenic heritage that served at Gallipoli and became a part of the ANZAC legend are as follows:
Corporal Jack Mark – 3 Battalion (Kephallonia, Greece)
Lance Corporal John Zavitsanos -18 Battalion
Private Constantine Aroney - 24 Battalion – (Kythera, Greece)
Private George Cretan – 3 Battalion – (Crete, Greece)
Private Roy Ralph – 5 Battalion – (Ithake, Greece)
Private Anastasios Rebea - 27 Battalion - (Kogaga, Greece)
Private Robert Alexander Krokos (Crocos) - 10 Light Horse
Private Arthur Halkas - 27th Battalion
Private Leonidas Manusu - 4th Battalion (Lesvos, Greece)
Private Georgios Pappas DCM, – 13 Battalion
Private Peter Rados – 3rd Battalion
During WW2 the number of Australians of Hellenic heritage who served in the Australian Defence Force was in excess of WW1 volunteers and while those who were unable to serve as servicemen and women, were placed in the volunteer battalions and employed in essential service areas that supported the war effort.
- Register Now
- Golden Dawn's Australian aspirations uncovered
- More Greeks calling Australia home
- Paedophilia charge for Greek Australian
- Greek Adelaide church in hot water again
- Fans make the Wanderers a good investment
- Do it like the Greeks says German consul
- Sixth place for Alcohol is Free
- Tailor made coffee
- AFP show support for Cyprus
- Turkey condemns NSW's genocide recognition
- 8 May 2013 | 12 Votes
- 3 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 15 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 8 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 13 May 2013 | 7 Votes
- 30 Apr 2013 | 6 Votes
More from this Section
- Political history in the Arts
- Marxist reporter won praise for his work
- Eurovision 2013: The kitsch and the high notes
- Myth versus reality: Athens during the peak of the crisis
- The Constantinople spirit
- The outfit says it all
- Unravelling Greece's crisis
- Crossing into the unknown
- Tall tales
- Paying tribute to old masters' paintings
Community involvement will save dwindling programs like Ancient Greek says Professor K.O Chong-Gossard.
A contentious anti-racism bill appeared to be causing an ever-widening rift within the fragile coalition government.
34,100 Greeks moved to Germany in 2012 with a 43 per cent jump
Coach Tony Popovic has repeatedly stressed the Wanderers' need to continue to improve next season
The 4.2-billion-euro installment is expected on Friday
Star players like Del Piero, Ono and Rojas all made the fan pick, but many could be poached to play for the Socceroos in the East Asian Cup finals
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has mounted a passionate defence of Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme and branded dissident Liberal backbencher Alex Hawke
Open to the general public, the lecture by professor Vrasidas Karalis is a highlight in the Brisbane lecture series
Former Defense Minsiter Akis Tsochatzopoulos is in court over laundering kickbacks from procurement contracts
Moving through protests, strikes and tons of graffiti, she finds the embattled capital still shows glimmers of hope.
NSW government donated of $29,450 to the Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of the Holy Apostles
The Australian Embassy in Athens marked Anzac Day by laying wreaths at the Australian Memorial Moudros Harbour
Moyne mayor Jim Doukas says the State government has unfairly dumped permit approval on Councils
Greek Australian artist Anna Pappas took part in 2013 Art-Athina, determined to aid long-term Greek Australian cooperation in art
Telling stories through a lens has become a life's work for artist Ellenor Argyropoulos, and has placed her in the finals of Tourism Australia's best job
The new law overturns what had been a guarantee of a job for life for workers in Greece's notoriously bloated civil service.
Local and international artists that express Greek themes and ideas through their art will be showcased at the Colours of Greece on Parade, held by Festival Hellenika.
Costas Iordanidis gives his opinion on Greek PM Antonis Samaras' visit to China, and the bilateral ties he plans on making there