The Hellenic cry of bravo was heard in Albert Park last week as Cr Bernadene Voss, the City of Port Phillip Mayor, announced the naming of the site of the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park as Lemnos Square. She did so as part of her welcome to representatives of the Hellenic Armed Forces who paid their respects at the Memorial.
The announcement is the culmination of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee’s original proposal to name the location of its famous Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial.
Cr Voss said that given the strong connection between Port Phiillip, Lemnos, and Gallipoli it was an honour for her to announce the naming on behalf of the council. She pointed to the many diggers and nurses who had departed from nearby Princes Pier who served on Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign – diggers like Port Melbourne’s Corporal George Finlay Knight of Port Melbourne and nurses like Elwood’s Clarice Daley. Ms Voss also announced that a formal unveiling of the Lemnos Square sign will take place as part of the coming annual Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial commemorative service in August this year.
The announcement took place as part of a short commemorative service conducted by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee at the memorial. Committee vice president, Christina Despoteris, conducted the service which included speeches, the laying of a wreath at the foot of the memorial and a minute’s silence.
Both Ms Despoteris and president Lee Tarlamis explained the history of the memorial to the overseas guests and spoke of the significance of the location both as the departure point of the Anzacs for Lemnos in 1915 and the place of arrival for the waves of post-WW2 migrants from Greece – including their own parents.
The guests included Lieutenant General Konstantinos Floros (Deputy Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff), Lieutenant Colonel Christos Anastasiadis (Deputy Director of Public Relations Directorate of the Hellenic National Defence general staff), Cr Georgios Aerakis (the municipality of Maleviziou, Iraklion) and Cr Kostas Trigonis (the municipality of Maleviziou, Iraklion).
Lieutenant Floros laid a wreath at the base of the memorial on behalf of the Hellenic Armed Forces – being handed the wreath by committee member Deb Stewart who is the granddaughter of Sister Evelyn Hutt who served on Lemnos in 1915. This is the first time that such a visit by members of the Hellenic Armed Forces has taken place to the memorial.
Lieutenant Floros said that he was proud to be able to visit the memorial and went on to explain the significance of Lemnos – not only its vital role in the Gallipoli campaign and the part played by the Anzacs – but also its liberation by the Hellenic forces in 1912.
As secretary, I was able to explain the design of the memorial, including its Hellenic aspects from the face of the nurse figure having been inspired by a sculpture of the Greek god Artemis to the names of the Lemnian villages visited by the Anzacs cut into the memorial’s stone plinth.
Both Cr Aerakis and Cr Trigonis were also impressed by the memorial and expressed their desire to discuss the possibility of a future Lemnos Gallipoli display on Crete.
Lee Tarlamis expressed the gladness of all present and especially the members of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee at the announcement by the mayor.
“This is a very proud moment for all of us – and in the presence of such distinguished guests from Greece. The City of Port Phillip has proved itself a worthy custodian of the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial and the rich heritage connecting the area to Lemnos and Gallipoli.”
There was also universal support for the proposal to have a recipirocal naming acknowledging Port Phillip on Lemnos itself.
The service concluded with an exchange of gifts, the Committee presenting the Hellenic visitors with a small token of its appreciation for their visit, which included copies of the war memoirs of General Sir John Monash which record his time on Lemnos in 1915.
The service was attended by Tony Tsourdalakis of the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council, along with members of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee.