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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 August 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 AUGUST 2017 21 GREECE The Australian Pier today, looking out to Mudros Bay, Lemnos PHOTO: DIMITRIS BOULOTIS 2017 The gravestone of Private Alexander Jones, the first Australian to die and be buried on Lemnos. East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos. PHOTO: JIM CLAVEN 2015. they would have to construct, including piers. The soldiers commenced the erection of the first of these around the 10 March. It was referred to as ‘a new, rough stonework pier’ and ‘a stone approach to [the] new landing pier’ and was completed by the end of March. The Australians also constructed a new road from new pier to the main road leading into Mudros Town. The pier would soon be joined by another erected to the south of Mudros Town, the construction of which was started by British Royal Naval Division soldiers on 16 March. And as they completed their work on the pier, the first Australian field hospital arrived in Mudros Bay and began to land its nearly 200 tons of equipment by rowboat most probably at the same jetty and set up their hospital in an area near the 9th Battalion camp, to the north of Mudros Town, photographs from the time confirm. This all-male hospital, the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital – with a staff largely trained in South Australia - would be the sole army hospital on Lemnos prior to the arrival of the other hospitals in August later in the year. All this work was done while Lemnos was swept by bad weather. Hurricanes blew down structures; rain fell across the island and gales from the north created such swells in the harbour that communication between the ships became impossible. Most of the troops were confined to their ships. The poor weather would bring the first of what would become thousands of patients to the staff of the Australian hospital, mostly suffering from the deadly influenza. The first Australian to die on Lemnos was Private Alexander Jones of the 9th Battalion, who was buried at East Mudros Cemetery on the 11 March 1915. He had succumbed to the effects of an overdose of self-administered medication taken in a desperate effort to clear his congestion. Four other Australian soldiers died and were buried on Lemnos prior to the Gallipoli landings, their deaths caused by influenza or pneumonia. These soldiers were the first of a huge multinational army that would come to Lemnos throughout 1915. They interacted with its people and transformed the island’s infrastructure. The name of the pier is re- vealed in a survey map of Mudros Bay completed by British Royal Navy officers in 1916. Located to the north of Mudros Town, near the outline of a small chapel, was drawn a solitary pier jutting into the bay – a pier named the Australian Pier! And miraculously the pier remains to this day. No doubt it has been improved and reinforced, but its stone foundations were laid here by those Australian soldiers from Queensland in March 1915. The little chapel of Agios Pavlos stands nearby. Walking on this pier today you can imagine the first Australians who came ashore on Lemnos, bent against the rain and wind, as they set about creating the beginnings of the Anzac camps and hospitals on Lemnos. This connection between Lemnos and Australia through Lemnos’ Australian Pier will be in many minds of many Hellenes and others who will gather at the coming Lemnos Gallipoli commemorative service to be held in Albert Park next weekend. This will be the first service to be held at the recently re-named Lemnos Square, the location of the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial. Following my submission on behalf of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, and with the support of the City of Port Phillip, the Victoria government’s geographic names authority has approved the formal naming of Lemnos Square. This is the first time since the naming of Lemnos near A Google Earth map of Mudros, Lemnos clearly showing the pier on the shoreline to the west of Agios Pavlo. Shepparton in north-east Victoria in 1927 that a location in Australia has been named in honour of the role of Lemnos at the birth of Australia’s Anzac tradition. And so from Lemnos’ Australian Pier to Melbourne’s Lemnos Square, the Hellenic connection to Anzac has achieved greater recognition. The naming of Lemnos Square in Albert Park will take place at 11.00 am on Saturday, 12 August as part of the annual commemorative service held at the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial, Foote St, Albert Park, VIC by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee. All welcome. Jim acknowledges the assistance of Dimitris Boulotis in the preparation of this article. “Lemnos Nov. 1915. In the foreground the tents are those of ‘Sarpi’ the Australian Rest Camp. In the background can be seen No. 2 (?) AGH at Turk’s Head. Detail from British Royal Navy survey map of Mudros Bay, Lemnos, 1916. Held in the British Library, London.
29 July 2017
12 August 2017