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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 JULY 2016 7 NEWS The successful Greek Australians of Queensland ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS Lambis Englezos AM with his wife Susanne (L) and children Sofia and Anthony. THE MISSING DIGGERS AND LAMBIS ENGLEZOS AM The Australian debut on the Western Front was a fiasco, a charge at dusk over open ground (no man's land) doomed to failure. But nearly a century later, there has been a breakthrough for the missing diggers from the Battle of Fromelles, with evidence finally backing claims that many were in fact buried by German troops in unmarked mass graves. And the discovery was in large part made thanks to the five-year indefatigable effort of Melbourne-based Greek Australian Lambis Englezos AM. With a keen interest in military history and an executive member of Friends of the 15th Brigade, he first discovered Fromelles in a book by Peter Charlton entitled Pozieres 1916: Australians on the Somme. It was then, in 1996, that he developed a theory that up to 200 Australian diggers killed at the Battle of Fromelles were still lying in an unmarked mass-burial on the outskirts of the French village. Having had the chance to meet with some of survivors in the 1990s, Mr Englezos, armed with a newfound respect for their bravery, set out to prove his theory with a view to seeing the diggers recovered and honoured. "Fromelles was a national disaster which should never be forgotten and we should do everything we can to recover our diggers from anonymous pits," he said. So after his second visit to The Man with the Donkey, Anzac 1915 by George Benson. than any other place on earth". From 16-28 July, the 48th Division lost 2,844 men, and 5,506 from 13 August . Meanwhile, the 1st Australian Division lost 7,700 men, the 2nd Australian Division 8,100, the 4th 7,100, and from July 27 to August 13 the 12th Division lost 2,717 men. Among the men who lost their lives at the Western Front while fighting with the Australian forces were eight Greek Australians, one of whom, Leonidas Manousos, died in action at Pozieres on 28 July, 1916. Fromelles in 2002, with the help of a few supporters, he started looking into rumours that there were mass graves at Pheasant Wood. At the nearby Victoria Cross Corner Cemetery, there is a list of 1,299 dead and missing Australians from the battle, though 171 bodies on the honour roll were never found. After examining aerial photos taken by the British just days after the battle ended, which show eight large pits, Mr Englezos found out that the Damassiet family, who today own the land, had never had much luck in growing a decent crop on the site. This discovery ignited his search even further, seeing him uncover more contemporary accounts of mass graves in the area. While it wasn't easy, met by a wall of discouragement, disbelief, and contempt, his persistence saw the gradual attraction of an unlikely alliance of supporters, media, and amateur historians. But as the potential enormity of the find dawned, in 2006 a private group led by lawyer Chris Bryett emerged from Sydney, and received an expert panel's approval to probe the surface of the site by battlefield specialist Dr Tony Pollard. Ensuring that he would be present, Mr Englezos made his own way to France, as Dr Pollard's team of six conducted a range of sophisticated tests, which quickly started to show support for the grave pits theory. A metal-detector scan soon unearthed two Australian medallions. Considering the fact that no Australians fought on the site, historians deduced that they must have come from either prisoners-of-war or dead bodies. Located in close proximity to one of the pit sites, it seemed more likely that they had fallen from bodies as they were being prepared for burial. The next phase was to dig trial trenches to establish beyond all doubt whether the bodies still remained there, and if so, how many. In was in 2008 that archaeologists finally confirmed Mr Englezos' longheld suspicion that the site near Pheasant Wood was indeed a mass burial ground. Showing their respect to their enemies, the German officers had offered a brief truce to allow soldiers in no man's land to be buried, however, when the offer was refused, the Germans gathered all the bodies, took their ID discs, individually bagged each item, and sent them home via the Red Cross. In July 2010, the last one of the 250 bodies was buried at the new Commonwealth Cemetery near the town of Fromelles – the only new Commonwealth Cemetery to be built in 50 years. Up to now the names of 152 of the 173 missing Australians have been identified through DNA. Since then, Mr Englezos' work into Fromelles has seen him awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM). But he hasn't stopped there. In the last four years his interest in Australia's missing soldiers has led him to turn his attention to the little-known Battle of Krithia of May 1915 on the Gallipoli peninsula, where he believes the remains of 143 Australians are buried in a mass grave. * Source: Greek Australians in the Australian Forces WWI & WWII by Steve Kyritsis. It's no secret that Australia is home to a number of successful Greek Australians, and journalist Nick Papadakis has made it his mission over the last three decades to ensure that they are honoured and remembered. In 1987 he released a book on the Successful Greek Australians of Victoria, followed by an equivalent for those in NSW in 1992, and this time around it's Queensland's turn. "Through this project, the aim is for the next generations to be able to see what the first comers from Greece in Australia have done, and to know how they educated their kids, acquired property, and everything else the Greeks have done in Australia," Mr Papadakis told Neos Kosmos. A self-funded project, his criteria for compiling Successful Greek Australians of Queensland was simple; at the end of each interview he would ask his subject who they identified as being a successful Greek Australian, which led to an impressive database to work with. "When I had three matches or more, I would contact them. So the people in the book chose the rest of the people," he explains. The book, which features 148 Greek Australians across the sunny state, is predominantly made up of first and second generation migrants, with their stories delving into how they ended up living Down Under, their back stories revealing the intimacy of their lives. "We also found a few third and fourth generation, and the first comers were in the 1900s. So they told us as much as they could about their great-grandparents, which was probably the most interesting part; learning about who the first ones were," tells Mr Papadakis. Officially launched last month at Brisbane's Greek Club, the event was opened by Honorary Secretary of the Greek Consulate in Brisbane, Tsambico Athanasas. A four-minute video was projected, showing the Patris on one of its many trips of the 1960s from Piraeus Port to Australia, before Professor of Ancient Greek Bob Milns took to the floor to speak about the impressive contribution Greeks have made in Australia. Vasiliki Papadakis also addressed those gathered, having worked alongside Mr Papadakis on the project as a coauthor. She praised the book as 'a university of life', having had the chance to meet a number of highly-qualified people through the experience, who despite adverse circumstances managed to thrive and excel. "Through your true stories, I felt the emotion - sadness, happiness, affection, love and respect. For all these feelings, I want to tell you that it was an honour to get to know you and to understand the true meaning of Australia's Hellenism," she said. To purchase Successful Greek Australians of Queensland, contact Nick Papadakis directly on 0410 383 535. Who are Victoria’s diversity heroes? Do you know an inspiring individual or organisation that has demonstrated extraordinary passion and commitment in promoting cultural diversity in Victoria? Presented by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Victoria's Multicultural Awards for Excellence shine a spotlight on people and organisations who are making a difference. From the fields of media to early childhood education, leadership to business, local government to community harmony, from the efforts of newly-arrived migrants and refugees to improvements in relations between police and communities - there are many ways in which these Diversity Heroes are making outstanding contributions to our multicultural community. Victoria's Multicultural Awards for Excellence 2016 will acknowledge achievements across 11 categories, including two new categories - the Youth Award and the Award for Community Innovation. Time to celebrate our Diversity Heroes - find out more and submit your nominations before 5.00 pm on Sunday 31 July, 2016.
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