This Time Last Year – Part 5: Anzac Day in Athens

Part of a series of posts that cover my travel to Greece and the USA in April/May 2016.

25 April 2016 – Anzac Day

My alarm is set for 4.55 am. I’m joining Graham Fleeton and his Battlefield History Tour group for an ‘unofficial’ dawn service at the Phaleron Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. It’s a small but moving service on the 101st anniversary of the fighting at Gallipoli but we also pay tribute to the second Anzacs who fought in mainland Greece and on Crete in 1941 especially those who died and are buried in this very cemetery.

Phaleron Commonwealth Wars Graves Cemetery just before dawn 25 April 2016

We sing the Australian and New Zealand national anthems and listen to the Greek priest sing the Greek one. The Last Post is played on a cell phone and someone hands out paper cups and pours us each a tot of rum.

After the service I lay an RSA poppy at each 18th Battalion soldier’s grave (the CWGC website provides the casualty details). My Dad was in the 18th Battalion. These men were colleagues and friends.

A 18th Battalion (2NZEF) soldier’s grave at Phaleron CWCG

The official Anzac service at 11am is hosted by the Australian Embassy and there are many dignitaries there. But I’m disappointed it’s so Aussie-oriented and so WWI oriented in this resting place of WWII Anzacs. New Zealand does get a mention when the consulate is called to lay our country’s wreath.

The NZ Anzac Day tribute in the centre.

It’s time to head back to my hotel for a lunch of rice crackers, ham & cheese and my much anticipated meeting with Sissy Tzelepidou.

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