Amidst the classical columns and architectural features of Melbourne’s iconic Shrine of Remembrance, we witnessed the commemoration of the centenary of the Armistice of Mudros on Wednesday 31 October.
Organised by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, as a new addition to the Shrine’s annual program of commemorations, this service was the first of what will be an annual event, acknowledging the role of the island of Lemnos and its great Mudros Bay as the location for the signing of the Armistice between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, an island that had played a key role in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
The service was preceded by an historical presentation in the Shrine Education Centre by myself, in which I explained in words and pictures the story of the negotiation of the Armistice and its significance.
The service in the Sanctuary featured the laying of wreaths and the reading of the Ode, culminating at noon, the exact hour 100 years ago that the Armistice came into effect.
At this time, the guns fell silent across the various battlefronts of the Ottoman Empire – from Syria and Mesopotamia, to Thrace and the waters of the northern Aegean. The First World War was now over for hundreds of thousands of soldiers – including thousands of Australian soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses – and thousands of Allied prisoners of war would begin to make their way home.
As we remembered the signing of the Armistice aboard the great British warship HMS Agamemnon – named after Homer’s great Achaean King who had besieged Troy – we looked up at the classical columns and reliefs of the Shrine, based as it is on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. What better location for such a service, recognising this important but little known part of the Hellenic link to Australia’s Anzac story?
Lee Tarlamis, OAM, President of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, addressed those in attendance in the Sanctuary, noting that on this day we commemorate the service of all service men and women of all the nations who fought across the Middle East and beyond, from Syria to Mesopotamia, and from Thrace to the shores of the Aegean, those who died and those who were wounded, their loved ones at home, and we acknowledge the upheavals and sorrows experienced by millions of civilians across the region..
The Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee has also been assisting the authorities on Lemnos with their services commemorating the centenary of the Armistice of Mudros which will be held in early November. Ms Christina Despoteris, Vice-President of the Committee is representing the Committee at these commemorations.
The Committee looks forward to its next Armistice of Mudros commemoration, which is scheduled to be held in the Shrine Sanctuary at 11.45am on 31 October ,2019, and hopes that many will be able to attend this function and those into the future.
*Mr Jim Claven is a historian, freelance writer and Secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee.