A less known to most page of modern Greek history unfolded during the A’ World War in Lemnos, the island of northeastern Aegean. Lemnos was chosen as the basis of the Allies by Winston Churchill, one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century, as he appreciated its decisive geographic position – as ancient Greeks had done since the campaign of Troy.
Churchill spent some time in Lemnos, and today, in the village of Portiano, there is the house that hosted him, while in the folklore museum of the village one can see the armchair where he loved to sit. The Englishman understood the strategic importance of the island and set up his headquarters there in order to plan a strategic move: In 1915 the Allies moved their forces from Lemnos to Kallipolis, on the opposite coast of Asia Minor, aiming to occupy Dardanellia. The Allied Army and Fleet, British, French, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers had camped in Moudros waiting for the operation to start on April 15th.
The invasion of Kallipolis was a major defeat for Winston Churchill, and in the battlefield many soldiers were injured or killed. The wounded were treated in Lemnos while the dead were buried in the two cemeteries of the Allies, one in Moudros and the other in Portianou.
More than a 100 years passed since the invasion where the forces of ANZAC, namely the Australians and New Zealanders, sacrificed themselves for the greater good. Both countries honor the anniversary as a day of memory for the fallen. In 2015 ceremonies and events were held that lasted four days, with country ambassadors, local authorities, and many people.
The events took place in the two cemeteries of the Allies, Portianou and Moudros, on 17-20 of April. The events started with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to honor two Canadian nurses who were buried there in 1915. During the events, the traditional lyricist of Lemnos, Nassos Kotsinadellis, played his own, mournful melody in honor of the lost lives. A “Run For Peace” road race was also held at a distance of 19.5 km, between the two cemeteries where a crowd of people participated. At the same time, a football match took place between the Navy teams of Greece and Australia.
The celebration was also attended by the Australian warship HMAS Success, as well as two ships of the Greek fleet, anchored in the beautiful bay of Moudros, “waking up” memories of 1915 …
The events were supported by The Lemnos Association of Friends of Anzac, the volunteer group that contributed to the excellent performance of the celebrations and the effort to promote the role of Lemnos during the Kallipolis campaign. The campaign “ANZAC : The Next 100 Years”, was concluded in 2016. These events, including photographic and film events, were based on the International Conference which took place in Lemnos on 26-28 June 2015, titled “Anzac Day and the promotion of the role of Lemnos in this historical subject”, with the Participation of Greek and international historians and academics from all over the world. This conference was co-organized with the Region of the Aegean, and the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, as well as a number of Greek and international community organizations (EOT, KEDE, XEE, HABC, etc.).