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Memories of Lemnos

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Congratulates the Organisation of Hellene and Hellene-Cypriot Women of Australia (SA) for its efforts to commemorate the centenary of ANZAC with the Memories of Lemnos and the Australian Nurses and the ANZAC centenary ceremony on Sunday 19 April 2015, at Keswick Barracks;

2. Recognises the service given by Australian nurses on the Greek island of Lemnos during the Gallipoli landing;

3. Recognises Greece for supporting Australia ‘ s war effort through its support for Australian nurses stationed at military hospitals based on Lemnos island during the Gallipoli campaign; and

4. Considers a permanent memorial specifically commemorating the Australian women who served as nurses on Lemnos island be incorporated in the soon to be constructed Anzac Walk.

(Continued from 1 July 2015.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 22:04 ): I rise to speak in support of the motion that this council congratulate the Organisation of Hellene and Hellene-Cypriot Women of Australia to commemorate the centenary of ANZAC with the Memories of Lemnos and the Australian Nurses and the ANZAC centenary ceremony on Sunday 19 April 2015 at Keswick Barracks; recognise the service given by Australian nurses on the Greek island of Lemnos during the Gallipoli landing; recognise Greece for supporting Australia’s war effort through its support for Australian nurses stationed at military hospitals based on Lemnos island during the Gallipoli campaign; and consider a permanent memorial specifically commemorating the Australian women who served on Lemnos island be incorporated in the soon-to-be constructed Anzac Walk.

This motion specifically acknowledges the outstanding contribution of women during the Gallipoli campaign, as well as the generosity of the people of Greece as they allowed the British and Australian personnel to operate hospital facilities on their islands during the allied assault on the Dardanelles. The Hellene and Hellene-Cypriot Women of Australia recognised this joint contribution made by Greece and Australia in their ANZAC Day address earlier this year and the important contribution made by the 96 Australian nurses who served in the two Australian field hospitals on Lemnos.

The majority of the women arrived on the island over two days. The barren island afforded little protection from the extremities and the remote location made sourcing fresh food difficult. For many of the nurses this was their first trip out of Australia and they demonstrated great resilience as they worked in poor conditions to build and maintain under-resourced hospital facilities through which thousands of soldiers would pass.

Gallipoli was the first major campaign fought by Australian forces in World War I. As the closest land hospital to the Gallipoli campaign, Lemnos was the main assembly point for the allied Gallipoli invasion force and the site of the major land-based nursing stations during the campaign. Lemnos, therefore, was not only a safe transit harbour of military significance, it was also a place of healing and respite for soldiers from the horrors and disease of the Gallipoli peninsula. One would like to think that these early encounters between the Australians and the Greeks sowed the seeds for our strong and lasting relationship with the peoples of Greece, especially in South Australia.

Remembering the contribution that Greece made in support of Australia’s war efforts by commemorating the work of the nurses of Lemnos in the soon-to-be constructed Anzac Memorial Walk is, in my view, a respectful way to remind generations to come of the compassion and resourcefulness displayed by so many individuals, both Australian and Greek, who for a short time lived life side by side, but especially the work of the nurses who provided care and love to the wounded and dying men broken by the conflict on the nearby peninsula. I commend the motion to the chamber.

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