At least 57 men of Greek family served overseas with the Australian armed forces during the First World War. Two more appear to have served in the merchant navy. Six were killed in action and 18 were wounded or gassed. Two were decorated for valour and another was commended for a brave act. Of these men, 36 were Greek nationals, 22 of them born in Greece. Two others were Kastellorizians and one was a Cypriot, the rest were born in Australia of Greek parents. Bare details of their service are recorded in official archives, but sadly little personal account of their experiences has come to light. None of them became a commissioned officer. One – Nicholas Rodakis- reached the rank of sergeant and several others held corporal’s rank.
At least 43 served in infantry or machine- gun battalions. Four served in the artillery, three in the cavalry, and the rest in engineer, salvage, tunnelling or pioneer units of the AIF. Two others served with the Australian Naval and Military Expedition Force (ANMEF) sent to capture German installations in the Pacific in 1914. Their ages at enlistment ranged from 16 to 42. Fourteen were labourers and five were cooks. They also included restaurant keepers, waiters, clerks, commercial travellers, shop assistants, miners, engine drivers, motor –drivers and students and a gun-smith, a farmer, a carpenter, a musician, a postal worker, a barber, a fireman, a liftman, a barman, a railway worker, a baker and a miller’s assistant.
Some families provided more than one member. These included two Crocos brothers and a Crocos cousin (Henry, Harry and Alexander), three Vafiopoulos brothers (Constantine, Lancelot and George), two Manusu brothers (Leonidas and Gordon), two Jannese brothers (David and James) and two brothers Procopis (Leonard and Albert). Twelve men served on Gallipoli: Corporal Jack Mark, Lance –Corporal John Zavitsanos and Privates Constantine Aroney, George Cretan, Robert Crocos, Arthur Halkas, Percy Koukousakis, Leonidas Manusu, George Pappas, Peter Rado , Roy Ralph and Anastasios Rebea. George Pappas, a farm labourer from Tamworth, NSW serving with the 13th Battalion, was wounded in the head, mentioned in despatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for “great gallantry on 4 May 1915 near Gaba Tepe. He volunteered to go out to bring a wounded man under heavy machine gun fire and succeeded in carrying him to a place of safety”.
By far the greater number, however – at least 40- served later on the Western Front of France or Belgium, included the Gallipoli veterans. Four were killed in action.
This photographic exhibition is dedicated to them. Australians and Greeks Volume II: The Middle Years by Hugh Gilchrist