Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW hold moving ceremony to honour Battle of Vevi fighters

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By Panagiotis Diamadis.

The Battle of Vevi, 11-12 April 1941, fought around the village of Vevi in the Florina district of Macedonia was the first engagement between ANZACs and Nazi troops in the Greek Campaign. They fought for control of a strategic pass over the mountains and behind the defensive lines of the Hellenic Army.

It was a milestone marked by a commemoration at the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney, an excellent initiative by the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW which will hopefully become an annual event.

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
All photos copyright The Greek Herald.
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw

Emceeing the event was Themis Kallos, whilst the keynote speaker was Craig Collie, author of ‘Where the flamin’ hell are we?’, an excellent book about the Greek Campaign of 1941. For some members of the audience, childhood memories were awakened as Mr Collie showed a series of photographs of the Florina district, where they were born and raised.

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
Keynote speaker Craig Collie.
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw

As youth from the Papapetros’ Aristotelian Dance Academy stood proudly dressed in traditional Greek costumes, the National Anthems of Greece and Australia were recited and a number of speeches were given.

The Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Yannis Mallikourtis said it was important to honour not only Greece’s history but Australia’s as well because it was the Battle of Vevi that united Macedonia and Australia during that time.

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw

President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW, Anastasia Karakominakis offered her thanks to all those who supported the event, and welcomed the specials guests and keynote speaker.

“We must honour our past and inspire and educate our community,” Ms Karakominakis said. 

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW, Anastasia Karakominakis speaks.
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
Photo supplied by Vasilis Vasilas.
Photo supplied by Vasilis Vasilas.

A centrepiece of the commemoration event was the Requiem (Mnimosino) chanted by Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Fr Irenaeus of St Sophia & Three Daughters Greek Orthodox Church in Surry Hills.

The Bishop’s voice in particular resounded off the marble walls and floors of the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park, a monument built by the people of NSW to honour the sacrifice of their soldiers buried overseas during World War One.

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw

As Peter Tsigounis, President of the Greek Ex-Services League, recited in The Ode, ‘Lest We Forget.’ It is the duty of every Australian Hellene to remember the ANZACs and the Hellenes who fell or who served and survived in defence of Australia, New Zealand, Greece and Cyprus.

battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw
battle of vevi pan macedonian association of nsw

The final part of the commemoration was a wreath laying and Star Ceremony, where attendees cast paper gold stars with the names of fallen ANZACs in to the Well of Contemplation. The centrepiece of the Anzac Memorial is the sculpture named Sacrifice, three female figures carrying the lifeless body of a fallen warrior.

The Anzac Memorial Hyde Park is a tribute to the Anzacs with Hellenic influences and links throughout. Most significant are the five soil samples from five battlefields around Hellas (Greece) – namely the Mediterranean Sea, Cape Spada (the north-western corner of Crete), Vevi (Macedonia), Tempe (Macedonia/Thessaly) and Rethymnon (Crete). Every Australian Hellene and every visitor from Hellas and Cyprus should include the Anzac Memorial on their itinerary.

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