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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 September 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2018 23 HISTORY Putting names and faces to the Battle of the Atlantic An open call for anyone who wants to contribute to a new academic project ALEXANDER BILLINIS the end of four years of terrible war that wreaked havoc across the world. We acknowledge the service of all those who served on the various fronts across the Ottoman Empire, especially those who died or were wounded and their loved ones at home. We acknowledge the relief that must have been felt by the survivors of the war. We acknowledge the upheavals and sorrows experienced by millions of civilians across the region. And we also acknowledge the important role of Greece in this important part in the story of the First World War. Greece's Lemnos island had played a key role as the advanced base for the Gallipoli campaign. Hellenic volunteers had fought alongside the Anzac and British troops on the peninsula and the people of Lemnos had shown their hospitality to the tens of thousands of Allied soldiers who had come to their island in 1915. Even the donkey used by Australia's Private John Simpson at Gallipoli was one of many sourced from Lemnos, with a memorial to both erected in the grounds of the Shrine. And one hundred years ago Lemnos played host to negotiations that would end the war across the Ottoman Empire. The first commemoration It might be pointed out that October is a significant month in the history of Lemnos. Not only was the island joined to Greece in 1912 during that month but Lemnos was liberated from German occupation in October 1944. The Armistice of 1918 should be yet another important date in Lemnos' commemorative calendar. As far as my research can tell, the Armistice of Mudros has never been commemorated – in Australia or in Greece. Its signing was no doubt over-shadowed by that of 11 November. This year we will correct this commemorative anomaly. And we will do so every year from now on. Please join us in commemorating this important occasion in the Hellenic link to Anzac and the First World War. In coming months, Melbourne and Lemnos will witness the first ever commemorations of the signing of the Armistice of Mudros in 1918, which ended the First World War across the Ottoman Empire. The Melbourne commemorative service has been organised by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and will be held at the Sanctuary of Melbourne's magnificent Shrine of Remembrance on Wednesday 31 October. Master of Ceremonies for the service will be Lee Tarlamis OAM, President of the Committee. The service will be held on Wednesday 31 October – 100 years to the day when the Armistice came into effect in 1918. It will commence at 11.45 am and be followed by light refreshments. The service will be preceded by a short presentation by myself in the Shrine's Education Centre, commencing at 10.30 am. All are welcome to attend both the service and presentation, although bookings are essential for the latter (to make a booking call (03) 9661 8100 or book online at https://www.shrine.org. au/Visit-the-Shrine/Talksand-Events/Centenary-of-the-Armistice-of-Mudros). A series of Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe, Royal Navy, photographed earlier as a flag officer. commemorative events on the Armistice of Mudros will also be held on Lemnos itself, between 2 and 4 November. Details of each day's events are yet to be finalised. When confirmed these will be advertised on the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee website: https://lemnosgallipolicc. blogspot.com/ * Jim Claven is a trained historian, freelance writer and has been Secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee since 2011. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org several years. This is truly one of the best publications in the diaspora, and I have been pleased to add my perspectives to the pool of ideas and thoughts that make up our remarkable Greek diaspora. Most of my articles have centered on either the diaspora, or the Balkan/Byzantine legacy found in Greece and other Balkan countries. I am now shifting my emphasis. It is with great pleasure that I announce that I have been accepted, though just shy of my half century mark, to attend Clemson University's (South Carolina, USA) Department of History as a master's degree candidate. I also have the distinct honour to be an instructor on campus (though the undergraduates under my tutelage might think otherwise). Among the classes I am taking, my digital history class has taxed my very limited technological skills to the hilt, but a round table discussion with my fellow graduates as to what our digital history project ought to be, brought forth in me a burst of clarity: I must do my digital history project (and perhaps my master's thesis) on a topic relating to the Greek Merchant Marine! I have to do this. For any number of reasons. First, what is more emblematic of diaspora Hellenism than the Greek and Greek-owned ships plying all the oceans of the world? To discuss the Greek diaspora one must, of necessity, speak of the Greek merchant marine legacy. But there is more. I am the son of a son of a sailor. Both sides of my paternal line were sailors. My paternal grandfather, from the Vatika "finger" of the Peloponnesus, was one of many sailors in his family, and I have found his relatives from Mozambique to Australia to South America, to the US. My maternal grandmother was the daughter of a Hydra captain, an island that needs no introduction in terms of its maritime tradition. My uncles by and large were at sea, in roles from captain to (the most common) I have had the pleasure of writing for Neos Kosmos on occasion for the past engineer, to deckhand. Many of my cousins were, or married, merchant mariners. We are a naval family. But there is still more. The man who I am named after, the man who inspired my second book (a tale, in part, about my grandfather's grandfather), my grandfather, Alexandros Billinis, was killed in 1942 in the Battle of the Atlantic, that titanic struggle to supply the European battlefields. He went down several hundred nautical miles from the capes of North Carolina, killed by a shell from a UBoat after his ship had been torpedoed. A 48-year-old cook, my grandfather had spent well over half his life at sea and a couple of years in America, cooking for countless crews, and sending vital foreign currency home to a Greece shattered by the Asia Minor Disaster. He left a widow and four children; men like these provided their families with a livelihood during the chaos of post-World War One Greece. Almost 2,000 other Greek sailors met the same fate as my grandfather in the cold waters of the Atlantic. Honour is due. It is time to put names and faces to these statistics, and to resurrect their stories which helped to safeguard the freedom that we as Americans and Greeks hold dear. These were the carriers of victory, generally unsung for their sacrifices, and well worthy of our attention. This is only the first step in my "Maritime Shift," there will be more and other steps. Given the very human dimension to the Battle of the Atlantic, I want your stories. I plan on making the project interactive, where relatives of those who participated can provide both pictures and stories, so that this is truly a collective history of Greeks who served on the seas as their ancestors had for thousands of years. With this in mind, in addition to welcoming your stories after the site is live, I am happy to hear your stories and see your pictures of relatives who served in this awesome venture, and with your permission, to include them in our historical journey. Please contact me at email@example.com to provide your stories, to honour their role in this epic clash.
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