This year’s annual Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial commemoration has been cancelled. The event was scheduled to have been held on Saturday, 8 August 2020, at the Memorial at Lemnos Square, Albert Park. This year’s annual event falls on the actual day that Australia’s nurses arrived on the Greek Island of Lemnos 105 years ago.

This is the first time since the unveiling of the Memorial in August 2015 that we have not held our annual service. We do so with a heavy heart but in recognition of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Now is the time for all of us to take care of each other by wearing a mask or face covering, practicing social distancing, and following all the restrictions now in place.

On Saturday, 8th August, I would ask that we all remember the service of those Australian men and women who came to Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign, as well as those local Lemnians who assisted them. The medical staff – doctors, nurses and orderlies – on Lemnos in 1915-16 cared for thousands of wounded and sick soldiers in trying circumstances, under the heat of summer and the wind and rains of winter – like medical officer Stanley Argyle, Matron Grace Wilson, Staff Nurses Evelyn Hutt and Lucy Daw, dispenser and orderly Henry Gissing and hundred’s more. This care saw the vast majority of those they cared for survive the ravages of war.

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In holding our annual service we honour the service of these medical staff. This year, we should also think of all our health care workers who are working so hard to keep us all safe as well as those who, while caring for those in our community, have contracted Covid-19. We all owe them a debt of respect for doing their important work at this difficult time.

Our Committee will be working towards the return of our annual service on 14 August 2021. I would like to thank both Christina Despoteris (Vice-President) and Jim Claven (Secretary) for the work they have already carried out on our annual commemoration.

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We are hopeful that our annual Armistice of Mudros commemorative service at the Shrine of Remembrance will be able to proceed as scheduled on 31 October 2020. However this will depend on what restrictions are in place at that time. We will advise further closer to this event.

In the meantime, our Committee continues to work to advance the commemoration of the Hellenic link to Australia’s Anzac story. Current projects include our proposals for the extension of the Gallipoli Medallion to cover those who served on Lemnos (and surrounding Islands and waters), the installation in the Shrine Gardens of a memorial plaque (and naming of a tree) honouring those Australians who served in the Salonika campaign, and the possible donation of George Petrou’s impressive painting of Grace Wilson to one of Melbourne’s major health facilities associated with Grace. We are also working on a range of activities to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the Greek campaign of 1941, including the publication of our Secretary’s new book on the latter.

Lee Tarlamis MP OAM, President, Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee