This Time Last Year – Part 12: Kalamata to Pyrgos

I get up at 5.30am. It was about this time on the 29th April 1941 that the thousands of Allied solders still in Kalamata, including my Dad, had no option but to surrender as agreed by the Brigadier. The account in To Greece by WG McClymont states: ” … swastikas were spread out on the beaches as a warning to the Luftwaffe to cease its bombing; the troops were assembled by the now exultant Germans; and for several days trainloads of prisoners were taken north to Corinth and to four unhappy years as prisoners of war.” Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 11: Anniversary of the Battle of Kalamata

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

April 28 2016 – Kalamata

The day dawns still and clear. There are few tourists at this time of year. It’s hard to imagine this day in 1941 with the beach, the streets, the wharves and the mole teeming with Allied soldiers and more in the olive groves where apartments now stand, even more in the hills. Thousands and thousands waiting for evacuation.

Looking from Hotel Ostria over the outer Kalamata harbour and beyond the mole, the bay.

Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 10: Corinth to Kalamata

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

April 27 2016 – Corinth to Kalamata

It’s time to farewell Corinth and head south like Allied soldiers did in their race to get to the evacuation beaches in 1941. We will be travelling fast on a comfortable KTEL bus from Athens to Kalamata that stops at the bus station opposite the Prime Isthmus Hotel. The bus is almost full and our seats are taken so we cannot sit together. I don’t have a window seat. I cannot take photos. Continue reading

This Time Last Year: Part 9 – Corinth Canal Crossing

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

April 26 2016 – Corinth

How do you arrange a transit from one end of the 6.34 km long Corinth Canal to the other when you don’t have a boat? It’s a question posed on many travel forums but the answers are always vague. I decided I would write to the Corinth Canal Port Office hoping the email wouldn’t go into the black hole most of my wine enquiry emails had gone into. I explained I was on a homage to my father who fought with the Allies in Greece in March & April 1941 and subsequently taken POW in Kalamata and that I would be at the Corinth Canal on Tuesday the 26th April, 2016 – the 75th anniversary to the day when the German troops parachuted into Corinth and the road bridge across the canal was blown up. Continue reading

This Time Last Year: Part 8 – The Corinth Cage

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

April 26 2016 – Corinth

At sunrise I walk to the canal and reflect on what happened here when the Germans attacked 75 years ago to the day in 1941,  As soldier/author Robert Crisp describes in his book, The Gods Were Neutral, ‘… first planes were heard shortly after 4am … scores of dots coming over the dark indistinct mass of Mt Parnassus … the air filled with the roaring of planes and deep detonations of the bombs punctuated by startled explanations of Bofors batteries and the rattle of small arms fire … then wave after wave of troop carrying planes disgorging hundred of parachutists so close to the ground that some of the parachutes could not open … the Allies did, in fact, inflict 285 casualties and they managed to blow the bridge.’ (NB: The charges on the canal bridge had been set by the 19th Battalion’s Wellington West Coast company some time earlier.) Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 7: Athens to Corinth

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

25 April 2016 – Anzac Day (continued)

I’m traveling for the next few days with Tom Phillips (a Kiwi living in London) and his partner Rowena. Tom’s Dad and my Dad were taken POWs in Kalamata. We had arranged the meet-up through the Stalag 18A Facebook page.

We take a taxi to Athens’ busy KTEL bus station hub in Kifisia because despite the amazing public transport systems in the city the intercity bus station is served abysmally. We pass an amusement park and I say, “I never saw that in any tourist guides.” Yeah, well, Athens is not the Gold Coast after all. Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 6: Greek Wine Tourism Planning

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

25 April 2016 – Anzac Day (continued)

Wine is a very important part of my visit to Greece in 2016. Last time, in 2013, my focus was following my father’s 1941 WWII journey through Greece but learning the Rapsani wine region on My Olympus was almost on route I was lucky enough to be able to arrange a visit thanks to the wonderful Lily at Tsantali who I connected with on Twitter – see The Road to Rapsani for my ramblings.

Since about December 2015 I’d been trying to organise wine region / winery visits Continue reading

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. Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 4: A Day in Athens

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

24 April 2016 – Athens

I wake up in Greece. It’s a glorious day. The Marina Alimos Apartments where I am staying are very close to the Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery at Phaleron where Anzac Day services will be held the next day. I get dressed and walk 200 metres along the much-in-need-of-repair footpath and I’m there.  Continue reading

This Time Last Year – Part 3: Going to Greece

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

23 April 2016 – Flight A3600 Heathrow to Athens 

I don’t know why the AirNZ Premium Economy checkin chick in Auckland wouldn’t tag my bags all the way through to Athens. They were checked all the way in 2013 – but that was with Cathay. I would have like to have stayed in transit at Heathrow instead I pick up my bags from the carousel, go through UK customs, look for somewhere to have a shower – can’t find anywhere, pack most of my NZ2 cabin bag junk into my suitcase, replace my soft cabin bag with a day pack, and lose my jacket.  Continue reading