The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, announced recently the funding of $4.9 million in the 2022-23 budget for the Lemnos Remembrance Trail to honor fallen heroes of the Gallipoli campaign.
The Lemnos Remembrance Trail will honor the service of Australian doctors, nurses and other service personnel, who served on the Greek island of Lemnos during the First World War.
The forward base for the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915-16, Lemnos was home to thousands of ANZACs and became the last resting place for 148 Australians.
The creation of the Remembrance Trial was first announced back in April 2018 by Melbourne’s Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and the Prefecture of the Northern Aegean.
With important groundwork completed since 2019, when the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the project now heads towards implementation.
“The women and men who serve this nation in uniform make incredible sacrifices for our country and we are ensuring that we repay our debt to them by providing the support they, and their families, need,” the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Andrew Gee, said.
Lemnos was chosen because of its strategic location
Lemnos was chosen as the main base for the Dardanelles campaign because of its strategic location at the entrance to the Dardanelles and its large deep harbor.
The Greek government led by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos offered the Allies use of Lemnos as a naval base and offered three divisions of Greek troops to help the allies capture the Gallipoli peninsula.
Because of its position, the island of Lemnos was destined to play an important part in the campaigns against the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. It was the obvious staging post for the Gallipoli campaign – its harbor being one of the best in the Aegean with its location close to the peninsula (with other smaller islands nearby).
Only 80 kilometers from the entrance to the Dardanelles, Lemnos, therefore, became the main assembly point for the allied Gallipoli invasion force with subsidiary bases at the islands of Imbros, Tenedos, and Skyros.
The first troops to arrive on Lemnos was a force of marines on February 23, 1915. Thousands of troops, nurses, and support workers would arrive in the coming weeks and months to turn Lemnos and its main port Mudros into a considerable Allied camp.
Lemnos would play a vital role in the eight and half month Gallipoli campaign as a key transit point for troops, housing for large hospitals, and the location for convalescent and rest camps.
The Gallipoli Campaign was the first major battle undertaken in World War I by Australia and New Zealand and is often considered to have marked the birth of national consciousness in both countries.
Anzac Day, April 25th, remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day. The participation in the Gallipoli Campaign was the beginning of the forging of national unity in Australia.