Australian holidaymakers visiting southern Europe next month are being invited to take time out in the north Aegean island of Lemnos to hear how it played a key role in the Gallipoli legend.
The Municipality of Lemnos, in conjunction with Australia’s Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, have created what organisers plan to be a regular event, with the 2013 and 2014 conferences set to raise the profile of Lemnos’ link with Gallipoli, and to focus activities on the island leading up to the Centenary of Anzac in 2015.
Lemnos was the key base for the Anzac campaign in the Dardanelles in 1915 – the location where the Diggers embarked for Anzac Cove and where Australian nurses cared for the injured in the doomed campaign.
As well as the base for thousands of Australian and British Commonwealth service personnel, the mortal remains of over 140 Australians remain in Lemnos’ war graves.
The conference next month will hear presentations from international guest speakers, including Australia’s Dr John Yiannakis, Dr Haluk Oral, the celebrated author on Gallipoli from Istanbul University, and Victorian MP John Pandazopoulos.
The conference will bring together government, tourism and community leaders on Lemnos to begin preparations for the Centenary of Anzac in 2015, and will include a tour of key Anzac sites on Lemnos, led by Conference Organiser and Anzac historian, Mr Jim Claven.
Organisers says the conference will provide a unique opportunity to commemorate and discuss this historic link between Australia, Lemnos and Greece, as well as an opportunity to plan for a new era of commemorative tourism on the island.
Mr Claven told Neos Kosmos that as the Gallipoli Centenary approached, it was essential for Australians to understand that without Lemnos as a base for Allied troops, there would have been no Gallipoli campaign.
“Australia and Greece share an Anzac and Gallipoli heritage. This is what will be explored in detail as part of the Conference as Greece prepares for the Centenary of Gallipoli,” he said.
President of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, Mr Lee Tarlamis, MP, who will attend the conference, said that for decades the Lemnian-Australian community has worked to ensure that the story was not forgotten.
“It’s now our role as Australians to take the next step and reunite ourselves with our forgotten history,” said the Victorian MP.
Fellow parliamentarian John Pandazopoulos pointed out that Lemnos was the missing link of the Gallipoli story, and that without its recognition, “we can never be true to our history, and the 50,000 Anzacs who were there and those Lemnians who enthusiastically supported the campaign.
“As Australians and Kiwis make pilgrimage at Gallipoli, Lemnos will play its role as well.”
The conference will be held at Portianou Cultural Centre, Lemnos, between 11 and 13 July. The cost of attending will be nominal, with free admission for students and young people.
Those interested in attending should contact Jim Claven at [email protected]