greece's world war commemorations

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A guide to Greece's World War commemorations

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  • Commonwealth forces fought in Greece during both world wars, leaving behind more than 18,000 dead. The commemorations to these casualties, cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, can now be visited chiefly in the Thessaloniki (Salonika) region, but also in and around Athens and throughout the Greek islands.

    This guide outlines the actions that took place in Salonika, Lemnos and beyond and describes what visitors can see at the cemeteries and memorials across Greece.

    The Salonika Front

    The Salonika Front was opened in 1915 to support Serbiaagainst the Central Powers Germany, Austria-Hungary andBulgaria. The British Salonika Force was one element in anAllied Army which contained Greek, Serbian, Montenegrin, Yugoslav, French, Italian and Russian troops. After the landing in October 1915 Allied forces pushed along the Vardar valley into Serbia but were then compelled to retire to Salonika, which was held as a fortified camp for a year.

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    An Allied offensive in the second half of 1916 established a line running from Monastir to the Gulf of Strimonikos, the British force holding the sector eastward from Doiran. This was to remain the Allied line until 15 September 1918, when the decisive break-out to the north led to the surrender of Bulgaria a fortnight later.

    The Second World War campaign in Crete

    Mikra British Cemetery

  • Bralo British CemeteryThe Salonika lines of communication were diverted through Bralo, Itea and Taranto towards the end of 1917 because of German submarine activity in the Mediterranean. The 49th Stationary Hospital was gradually transferred to Bralo and rest camps were established at Bralo and Itea.

    The cemetery was created in October 1917 and used until April 1919. A large proportion of the burials occurred following the influenza epidemic of 1918. The cemetery contains 95 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and seven war graves of other nationalities.

    Dedeagatch British CemeteryDedeagatch (now Alexandroupolis) was bombarded by an Allied squadron in October 1915 and occupied by Commonwealth forces in October 1918. A casualty clearing station (i.e. medical facility used to treat wounded soldiers) was posted in the town until the end of the year.

    The cemetery was used from October to December 1918. After the Armistice, 18 graves were brought in from other cemeteries, 13 of

    Doiran Military Cemetery Bralo British Cemetery

  • them from Kavalla Anglo-French Cemetery. Kavalla was a port of call for hospital ships in November 1918. The cemetery now contains 64 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. There are also two Second World War burials and 16 burials of other nationalities.

    Doiran Military CemeteryThis cemetery (originally known as Colonial Hill Cemetery No.2) was formed at the end of 1916 for the Doiran front. After the Armistice, graves were brought into the cemetery from the battlefields and from some small burial grounds. The cemetery contains 1,338 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, of which 449 are unidentified. There is

    Doiran MemorialThe Doiran Memorial stands near Doiran Military Cemetery in the north of Greece. The memorial serves the dual purpose of Battle Memorial of the British Salonika Force and place of commemoration for more than 2,000 Commonwealth servicemen whose graves are not known. The memorial was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, with sculpture by Walter Gilbert.

    Doiran Memorial

    also one French war grave and 45 Greek war graves.

  • Karasouli Military CemeteryThe cemetery was formed in September 1916 and used by casualty clearing stations on the Doiran front. At the time of the Armistice Karasouli contained about 500 burials but the total greatly increased once graves were brought in from other cemeteries. Karasouli Military Cemetery now contains 1,421 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

    Kirechkoi-Hortakoi Military CemeteryThe cemetery was very small until September 1917, when the 60th, 65th and 66th General Hospitals joined the area. In June, July and September 1918 other hospitals were brought in beside the Salonika-

    Lahana Military Cemetery

    Kirechkoi-Hortakoi Military Cemetery

    Karasouli Military Cemetery

  • Hortakoi road. The influenza epidemic then began, which raged for three months and filled three-quarters of the cemetery. The cemetery now contains 588 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 58 Bulgarian war graves. There are also 17 burials from the Second World War.

    Lahana Military CemeterySick and wounded men were brought from the Struma front to this area, which was formed in July 1916 for burials from the 27th Casualty Clearing Station. The cemetery was also used from June to August 1917 by the 18th Stationary Hospital. After the Armistice, graves were brought in from other small burial grounds. The cemetery now contains 279 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

    Mikra British Cemetery, KalamariaThe cemetery was established in April 1917 and remained in use until 1920. It was greatly enlarged after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from a number of burial grounds in the area. Mikra British Cemetery now contains 1,810 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, and 147 war graves of other nationalities.

    Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria

  • Mikra MemorialWithin Mikra British Cemetery stands the Mikra Memorial. The memorial commemorates almost 500 nurses, officers and men of the Commonwealth forces who died when troop transport and hospital ships were lost in the Mediterranean. Others who went down in the same vessels but were washed ashore and identified are now buried in Thessaloniki.

    Monastir Road Indian CemeteryThis cemetery comprises two plots and was made between 1916 and 1920. The northern plot holds the remains of over 200 Indian servicemen cremated in accordance with their faith and their names are inscribed on the memorial panels. Within the cemetery stands the Monastir Road Indian Memorial, bearing the names of over 150 Indian servicemen who died during the First World War whose graves could not be marked or moved.

    Monastir Road Indian Cemetery

  • Piraeus Naval And Consular CemeteryThe Commonwealth graves are mostly grouped around the monument to ten casualties from HM Ships Exmouth and Duncan, who died in December 1916. The Commission cares for 23 First World War burials and 12 non-war naval graves within the cemetery.

    Salonika (Lembet Road) Military CemeterySalonika (Thessaloniki) was the base of the British Salonika Force and at various stages was home to eighteen general and stationary hospitals. The cemetery, formerly known as the Anglo-French Military Cemetery, actually comprised Commonwealth, French, Serbian, Italian and Russian sections after opening in November 1915. After the Armistice, some graves were brought in from other cemeteries. There are now 1,648 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. The Commonwealth plot also contains 45 Bulgarian war graves and one Serbian war grave.

    Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery

    Piraeus Naval and Consular Cemetery

  • Sarigol Military Cemetery, KristonFrom April to June 1917, a casualty clearing station was established at Sarigol. This was later replaced by the 21st Stationary Hospital, which remained until December 1918. 150 burials were made in the cemetery from these two hospitals. The Cemetery now contains 682 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 29 war graves of other nationalities.

    Struma Military CemeteryThe majority of the cemetery, formerly known as the Kilo 71 Military Cemetery, consists almost entirely of graves brought in from churchyards, battlefields and small front-line cemeteries established by Field Ambulances or Battalions on this front. The Cemetery contains 947 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. There are also 15 war graves of other nationalities.

    Syra New British CemeteryMore than half of the graves in the cemetery commemorate men who drowned following a torpedo strike on a transport vessel that was travelling through the Aegean Sea. There are now 111 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 45 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate 11 casualties known to be buried among them.

    Struma Military Cemetery

    Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston

  • Lemnos

    The island of Lemnos played an important role in the First World War, particularly during the Gallipoli campaign. By early 1915, the fighting on the Western Front in France and Flanders had reached stalemate. The British government sanctioned a plan to attack the Ottoman Empire, which was fighting alongside the Central Powers, led by Germany. By sending Allied warships through the narrow straits of the Dardanelles to attack Constantinople (now Istanbul), it was hoped that the Ottomans could be forced out of the war.

    In February and March 1915, British and French ships attempted to subdue the forts which guarded the Dardanelles, but minefields and powerful shore batteries proved insurmountable. A joint Mediterranean Expeditionary Force landed on the Gallipoli peninsula to take control of the straits. Fought between April 1915 and January 1916, the campaign ended in failure for the Allies.

    Lemnos was occupied by a force of Royal Marines on 23 February 1915 in preparation for the attack on Gallipoli. It became a vital hub for men and supplies bound for the peninsula, and an important hospital centre for the treatment of the sick and wounded brought in from the battlefields.

    East Mudros Militar

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