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JoMH

Smyrna

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JoMH

Some months ago, I happened upon this at TNA:

FO 369/1817

"Smyrna, 4th July 1922

Sir, With reference to my despatch No 15/37 of 9th June 1921, relative to the proposed erection in the Courtyard of this Consulate, of a Memorial Tablet recording the names of those members of the British Community of Smyrna who lost their lives in the great war, I have the honour to report that this tablet has now been received and erected and was formally unveiled and dedicated on the 24th ultimo.

A photograph of the Tablet, showing the manner in which it is inlet into the wall, in the position indicated in paragraph 4 of my despatch under reference, is enclosed herein for transmission, if approved, to His Majesty's Office of Works.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Harry Lamb

Consul General.

To His Majesty's Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Office, London."

When Smyrna was destroyed by fire in September the same year, the British Consulate was part of the area destroyed. I do not know if the consular building itself was totally destroyed, but the old vicarage of the English church operates as British Consulate in current-day Izmir.

Does anyone know if the memorial survived and, if so, whether it is in the same place? Perhaps it was moved, or a new one was erected elsewhere? I would be interested to know what names were on this memorial and whether it comes under the CWGC.

Any ideas or information about this would be greatly appreciated. Failing that, I will contact the Anglican church and the British Consul there, though the former has been notably unresponsive to my previous enquiries on other subjects.

Thank you, Joanna

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Terry Denham

It is not a CWGC memorial.

It sounds as though all the names would have been civilians.

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JoMH

Thanks for clarifying that, Terry.

During the war, residents of Smyrna were repeatedly imprisoned for periods. Some POWs came back through Smyrna after the war, many in very poor health, but whether those who died would have been included on this memorial, I don't know. I imagine that some members of the British community of Smyrna would have been away fighting and dying though.

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David_Underdown

Joanna, I happen to know the Diocesan Secretary of the Diocese of Europe, which I think extends to Turkey, I'll try to ask him if there's any chance of sending a message through his channels next time I see him.

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JoMH

Thank you, David.

I will PM you to clarify things. I did meet the Diocesan Secretary, very briefly, a couple of years ago, though he probably won't recall the occasion. The office was very helpful in letting me look through their Diocesan Gazettes of the time.

Joanna

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JoMH

I have discovered some names of soldiers buried at Smyrna in 1918. It's possible that these were prisoners of war. Any information on any of these men would be very much appreciated.

These men are unlikely to be the ones commemorated on the Memorial, and I will edit the title of the topic.

The names are:

Pte S Mcanly

Paradise camp, died in Red Crescent hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Pte D Smith

21

Paradise camp, died in Red Crescent hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Rifleman E Roe

21

Paradise camp, died in Red Crescent hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Pte E Reynolds

28

Paradise camp, died in Karantina hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Pte W Mausley

Paradise camp, died in Karantina hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Pte C Barker

Paradise camp, died in Karantina hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Pte W Griffiths

Paradise camp, died in Karantina hospital

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

Corporal R Westrope

Paradise camp

1918

In camp ground Paradise. W H Brett

From Smyrna Register of Baptisms and Burials MS 29744 (LMA or Guildhall Library?)

W H Brett was the Chaplain at Smyrna, and Paradise was a suburb of Smyrna.

Joanna

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apwright

With the exception of Mcanly (possibly McAuly/Macauley etc.?) there are some likely-looking CWGC matches for these names - all dying within a 2-week period in October 1918 and all apparently now buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

680603 Pte D[ennis] SMITH, 22/London, died 15/10/18

572908 Rfn E[rnest] ROE, 17/London, died 13/10/18

50148 Pte E[ustace Revell] REYNOLDS, Imperial Camel Corps, died 11/10/18

200448 Pte William Thomas MOUSLEY, 1/4/Northants, died 7/10/18

651166 Rfn Charles William BARKER, 2/21/London, died 7/10/18

240848 Pte W[illiam] GRIFFITHS, 5/RWF, died 7/10/18

201391 Cpl W[alter] WESTROPE, 1/4/Northants, died 3/10/18

Or is this merely coincidence?! Seems strange that they would be moved all the way to Baghdad rather than, say, Istanbul.

Adrian

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apwright

The service record of 2638/240848 William Griffiths survives (search with Griffiths and 2639).

Image #116846 includes the following information:

Prisoner of War 1/11/17

Rank at Death: Pte

Date of Death: 7/10/18

Place of Death: Smyrna

Cause of Death: Cause not stated. ?Popular [wonder what this means! killed by a mob?]

Discharge in consequence of: Death whilst Prisoner of War

Adrian

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JoMH

Thank you Adrian,

That is very puzzling. Perhaps the bodies were moved to Baghdad specifically to be 'reunited' with their comrades from certain regiments. I haven't seen the original register myself at the Guildhall, but found the list of names on levantineheritage.com - a useful, but hard to navigate site with a good deal of information about Smyrna. The transcription on the site has the name Mcanly, but your suggestions sound possible.

I have some more information about Paradise and POWs at Smyrna - also the Memorial Tablet - which I will add later.

Pondering on new meanings of the word 'popular'....

Joanna

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JoMH

During the war, and again in September 1922, the nurse who ran the English Nursing Home in Smyrna kept diaries - her name was Grace Williamson. The diaries can be viewed under 'Genealogical/Testimonial'.

The following extracts are interesting:

9th December 1917

"There is a rumour that the English Government is trying to arrange for the exchange of prisoners. Let us hope something will be done, though we can't believe anything will be done."

27th May 1918

"This week there is great excitement amongst the Belligerents as the governments are making arrangements for exchange of prisoners!"

22nd September 1918

"English prisoners have come and some are lodged in the American College [there was an American College at Paradise where the men on the list were originally buried], and some in the town in different institutions. They are in a very poor condition, and have hardly any clothing. The English ladies are making shirts as hard as they can, and every one is doing their best to send comforts. But there are so many, and it is a drop in the ocean what we can give. What revelations they will make!"

6th October 1918

"The past month the prisoners have been coming from up country in batches of 50 or 60. Sometimes the poor fellows are very ill and dying. One lot journeyed for 5 days with nothing to eat. Several have died since coming. It is dreadful to think of the suffering they have gone through. Their numbers have been reduced from thousands to hundreds. One Company, 370 men is now 39 only. All the officers' faces look sad. They are not allowed to talk politics or say anything of what they have been through. Some of the Civilian English are allowed to visit them, but there is nearly always someone near listening and also they have given their parole. So nothing much can be heard, but they will have awful things to reveal some day."

Later in October 1918

"The English prisoners keep on arriving, there are nearly a thousand men now and about 40 officers."

Joanna

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JoMH

I have discovered information about a Memorial in St John's, the Anglican church in Smyrna on the Levantine Heritage site. Details can be seen here.

Because the dates of death go right into 1919, and the tablet of my original query was dedicated in 1922, it may be that this memorial commemorates the same men as the one erected at the British Consulate.

If so, it would be interesting to know if the memorial in St John's is the same one as was dedicated in 1922 or if a new one was made after the fire. Alternatively, it could be a different memorial to a different group of men.

Joanna

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JoMH

Some may have made this connection already, but I have just discovered the thread: Gallipoli POWs - where might they have been imprisoned? Post # 6 describes how, in the early 1920s, bodies of POWs were taken from the Anatolian railway camps and re-interred in plot XXI Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetery.

Joanna

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FGT

My grandfather, John Still, spent about two months (September,October 1918) in Smyrna after he left Afion, prior to being repatriated from Phokea (Foca) on 1st november. He was part of an exchange of prisoners arranged under the Berne Convention. The prisoners were selected for exchange (somewhat arbitrarily) on the grounds of ill health.

In the relevant pages of his book [A Prisoner in Turkey] he doesn't give much information about other people. He refers to the British chaplain (no name given), Dr Machlachlan (Canadian principal of the International College)and Mr Reed (American, deputy head of the college) but other people are nameless.

About his time in "Paradise" (Şirinyer) he writes:

We began by using a few rooms of the main building, and ended by filling the whole establishment, even the chapel. For parties were coming in almost daily from all over Turkey. At first they were nearly all sick men, some of them at the very point of death. We lost sixteen men in Smyrna, who died before they could be exchanged....

We waited on and on. The college was filled to overflowing, and another camp was started in another part of Smyrna.

I'm afraid that, as you see, John Still does not shed much light on your search other than to suggest that the list you have, with the date of death as October 1918 and the place of death as either Paradise or Karantina, is probably a match to those who arrived in Smyrna ill/wounded/exhausted/under-nourished and who there perished. I assume that the second camp he mentions was "Karantina" which I believe to have been on the coast, south of Konak, between Karataş and Göztepe, presumably near the district now known as Küçükyalı.

I used to live and work in Izmir, and still live quite close. I have attended the Anglican Church in Izmir on many occasions, including Remembrance Day services and, from memory, the names listed on the memorial tablet in the church in Alsancak are of those from the Levantine community who were from Smyrna and volunteered for war service. You could try contacting Ron Evans, the Anglican priest there or Willy Buttigieg, the British Consul.

There are two other possible avenues you could try:

1) The International College in Paradise (Şirinyer, Buca) subsequently became the American High School and has relocated. I believe the school keeps some archives but have not seen them myself. You could try contacting their PR officer whose details follow: Aydan Tezcoşkun YAKIN (ACI ’89), Communications and PR Coordinator, e-mail: ayakin@aci.k12.tr

2)The International College campus in Paradise (Şirinyer) is now used as the NATO HQ. There is a small plaque on the entrance to a theatre/lecture hall there that I have seen that refers to the POWs that were lodged there but has no names/details. You could try contacting someone there. I believe that there is no longer a British presence there but you could try writing to the Padre or the commanding officer. I have not been able to find any names or an actual address but I think NATO, Şirinyer, Izmir, Turkey would probably work.

Please let me know if you need any help in person. I am only a couple of hours from Izmir and have some contacts there.

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JoMH

FGT,

For now, this is just to say thank you so much for the information and suggestions. I will get back to this and reply in a day or so.

Joanna

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frev

My grandfather, John Still, spent about two months (September,October 1918) in Smyrna after he left Afion, prior to being repatriated from Phokea (Foca) on 1st november. He was part of an exchange of prisoners arranged under the Berne Convention. The prisoners were selected for exchange (somewhat arbitrarily) on the grounds of ill health.

Hi FGT

Your grandfather John Still doesnt happen to mention in his book which ship took him back to England does he? (I assume on the 1st Nov)

From an Australian newspaper article in 1935 I have the following quote:

On October 31, 1918, after the armistice with Turkey, the Kanowna had the happy task of repatriating from the Gulf of Smyrna 900 of the British prisoners, including 50 Australians, from Turkey.

From another Australian newspaper in Jan 1919:

The Kanowna left Lemnos on October 28 for London with repatriated British prisoners of war and convalescents from Turkey, ……….

From "Stoker's Submarine" (AE2)- Able Seaman JH Wheat, who had been a prisoner in Turkey (Afion Kara Hissar) was selected for a Prisoner exchange in October 1918 - and he "made his way to Smyrna (Izmir) where he wrote that he was 'overjoyed to see the Australian hospital ship, Kanonwna'. It took him to Alexandria then to London, before returning with its load of prisoners of war to Australia."

I'm working on a history of the hospital ship Kanowna - and I'm trying to pin down her movements more accurately.

Cheers, Frev

PS: Im guessing your grandfather would have to be the same John Still that wrote The Ballad of Suvla Bay brilliant piece!

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FGT

frev -

Yes, he was repatriated aboard the "Kanowna"; and, yes, he was the author of "The Ballad of Suvla Bay". That and his other poems were smuggled out in a hollow walking stick and published in a book entitled "Poems in Captivity".

Of The "Kanowna" he writes:

At last the ship came, and lay off Phokea, outside the Gulf of Smyrna.

We went off in tugs, out of that lovely bay, more beautiful, to my mind, than the bay of Naples, and we went on board the Australian hospital ship "Kanowna", where they gave us a royal welcome.

This was the 1st of November, 1918.

August the 9th, 1915 - November the 1st, 1918.

They had many cots prepared, expecting many sick and cripples. They asked as we came aboard where the sick were, and we replied that they were dead.

....There our last sun set on Turkey, and we steamed away to the south.

"Phokea" is the old name for Foça which has two settlements, now known as "Eski Foça" (old Foça) and "Yeni Foça" (new Foça) which is misleading as, in the medieval period and beyond, Yeni Foça was the more important of the two. EskiFoça is about 43 miles north of Izmir whilst YeniFoça is about 50 miles north. The distance between the two, winding around the coast, is about 12 miles. I do not know to which my grandfather referred but I have always imagined it to have been EskiFoça. There is now an important Turkish military base there where commandos are trained and I imagine there would also have been a military presence there in the past, which would make it logical as a point of departure for POWs.

Incidentally, it was people from ancient Phokea who founded Marseilles.

My grandfather's book, "A Prisoner in Turkey", is available online at http://www.archive.org/stream/prisonerinturkey00stiliala#page/n0/mode/2up see page 249 for the "Kanowna" reference.

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frev

Thank you so much for this FGT.

Nothing like a primary source to settle on an accurate account of time & place!

Thank you also for pointing out that your grandfather's book is available on-line - I'll definately have to have a look at it.

Cheers, Frev

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JoMH

FGT & Frev,

Grace Williamson, who was in charge of the English Nursing home opposite the Point Railway Station, made some more interesting entries in her diary of the time, relating to the prisoners and a ship, I assume the Kanowna, which left on November 1st :

October.

The English prisoners keep on arriving, there are nearly a thousand men now and 40 officers. You can imagine the excitement in the town. All the shopkeepers grin from ear to ear. And English money is flying. Oh how happy we all are, but have not realized it yet. Most of the English families have taken in some English officers. And of course they are not very comfortable in their quarters at the American College in Paradise. They are so crowded there. Some who can afford it have taken rooms at the Hotel. (...) Last night two officers missed the train for Paradise, and Carmaelo, the ticket puncher at the station brought them over to us. Poor fellows, they were so shy and shabby. But we soon made them feel at home. Having Mr Beard here, they were soon made comfortable. We gave them hot baths and clean beds and they did enjoy themselves. To one it was the first civilised bath and bed he had got for three and a half years. He danced in the bathroom for joy. The other was a flying man who was brought down the coast eighteen months ago.

1.11.18.

Yesterday evening we suddenly heard that the ship which is to take the prisoners has come to Foca and that all who wish to go must be ready by 7 o'clock the next morning. Some people said they were only going to take the military. However, as our two girls were very anxious to leave, they packed up till the small hours of the night and were ready by 7. Such a commotion and excitement. We were all sort of hanging out of the door, and again we were told no civilians allowed. However, we went on to the railway pier which was entirely in the hands of the English. And a Colonel who knew the girls told them to come along and they would be taken. Hurrah. How glad we were that we went on to the pier. A glorious day, and the small launches, six of them, went off with a lot of hurrahs and shouts of goodbye. So lovely. Herbert and a small party went with them in the General's launch, they will return in the evening. Perhaps tomorrow some more launches will leave with the rest of the prisoners and the civilians, but one is never sure from one day to another. So it is just as well the girls got off. One of the officers sat on the bows of the General's launch and as they moved off he put his foot over the side and dusted the soles of his shoes with such a disgusted face. Everyone roared with laughter.

Joanna

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JoMH

FGT,

Thank you so much for the information in post # 13 - my apologies for taking so long to get back to you.

I did write to the British Consul in Izmir some weeks ago, but did not have his name, and I imagine that my letter did not get through to Willy Buttigieg personally. So, initially, I will try him again, as well as Ron Evans to see if they know whether the plaque in St John's is the same one that was dedicated at the British Consulate in 1922. Thank you for your other suggestions which I will follow up if the above prove unsuccessful.

The main reason for my curiosity is that my grandfather, Charles Dobson, was chaplain to St John's from April to September 1922, and it is highly likely that he was involved in the original dedication ceremony that year. In researching his time there I find it useful to try to build a picture of the people he had contact with.

The names on the memorial in St John's are:

William Reginald Epstein, Captain.

Richard Norman Keyser, Lieutenant.

Clifford Wilfred Elliot, 2nd Lieutenant.

Eric Cuthbert Elliot, Lieutenant.

Alfred Edward Holton, Lieutenant.

John Arthur Holton, 2nd Lieutenant.

Rowland Donald Pengelley, 2nd Lieutenant.

Cecil Pierce Rice, Corporal.

Ralph Max Warren, Lance Corporal.

Edward Robert Burn, Rifleman.

Lionel H. C. Vedova, Private.

James Sandford Murray, Private.

Some of these family names are familiar to me from other accounts related to Smyrna - for example, 'Epstein', who was in Malta as a refugee with my family in September/October 1922.

I have found an on line copy of your grandfather's book, 'A Prisoner in Turkey', which I will read with great interest in due course.

It's fascinating that you know current-day Izmir well, and that you have such a connection with its past. I hope to visit the city myself next year - if all goes to plan.

With many thanks again,

Joanna

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Pighills

FGT, thanks for posting the link to your grandfather's book, I have started reading it and find it most interesting (as is the whole of this thread!).

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FGT

Joanna -

re the names on the memorial:

A cursory glance suggests to me that the duplication of two surnames would imply two sets of brothers. It would be too much of a coincidence that POWs shared surnames so I think these must have been Levantines. Presumably you've looked on the Levantine Heritage site?

Have you read the book "Paradise Lost" by Giles Milton? It is all about the Levantines in Smyrna and, although unsatisfactory in some respects (for example, he only uses the old names - there is no connection made with modern Izmir; the book has no maps etc), is a very insightful book if you are interested in that place and time. Another book on a similar subject is "Twice a Stranger" by Bruce Clark though this covers a wider geographic region and is concerned more with the population exchange.

I have an e-mail address for Ron Evans (priest) which I am reluctant to publish here but could pass on to you if you wish.

Please let me know if and when you visit Izmir. I would be interested to meet you and could perhaps help with language etc.

Frances

PS I am not a Levantine, my only connection with Izmir/Smyrna (other than through my grandfather) is that I lived and worked there for about 15 years and still live in Turkey (Ayvalik).

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JoMH

FGT,

Yes, I think those are the names of Levantines and in fact I got the list from Levantine Heritage. By the way, I think the chaplain at Paradise your grandfather referred to was very likely to have been Reverend Brett.

About the two books you mention: -

I have read Giles Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. One of his sources (listed as one of the 'characters' of the book) was Charles Dobson, the Anglican chaplain, who was my grandfather. He wrote two reports on what he had witnessed in September 1922, and two years later gave evidence for a trial held in London to determine whether insurance claims should be met. As you say, the book concentrates on the Levantine community. A contemporary map would have been very illuminating, though it is very difficult to find one.

Another book on the subject of the Smyrna fire (which you probably know, but others might be interested to hear of it) is Marjorie Housepian's 'The Smyrna Affair', which concentrates on the events from an Armenian angle, and uses a number of American naval sources.

Also, Bruce Clark's 'Twice a Stranger' is invaluable in presenting the larger picture and how the repercussions of the population exchange continue. I notice that the first chapter starts with your town of Ayvalik.

It's very kind of you to offer to help me when I visit Izmir, and I think your knowledge of the city and language would make a trip that I feel rather nervous about a great deal more rewarding.

I will send you a Personal Message via this site about Ron Evans' e-mail etc. [Edit: have just tried sending you a message, but it would not go through. Perhaps your inbox is full?]

Many thanks again.

Joanna

Kim, The way this topic has developed is marvellous. I start out with one basic question about a memorial tablet, and all these other pieces of information, large and small, start falling into place.

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frev

FGT & Frev,

Grace Williamson, who was in charge of the English Nursing home opposite the Point Railway Station, made some more interesting entries in her diary of the time, relating to the prisoners and a ship, I assume the Kanowna, which left on November 1st :

1.11.18.

However, as our two girls were very anxious to leave, they packed up till the small hours of the night and were ready by 7.

Thank you for the extra info Joanna. From your reading of the diary does it give any indication as to whether the two girls were nurses (non military), other staff, or her own daughters?

Cheers, Frev

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JoMH

Hello Frev,

I think the 'two girls' were non-military nurses, and that perhaps they had been working at the nursing home. I'm fairly certain that they were Ethel and Evelyn Perkins.

Grace wasn't married, and her diaries were written for her sister while they were cut off by war, so her manner is very chatty and presumes the reader knows who she is talking about. Here are some more extracts from 1918:

August

The Belligerants have hopes of leaving but as yet things are not settled. Turks take such a long time and the girls are impatient to be off. Since they have heard that the Pengelley girls are working in Rome it has made them long more than ever to be off and working themselves. Though what Ethel will do I can't think as she is not strong or capable. Evelyn is all there and can accomplish what she makes up her mind to do.

[Pengelley is one of the names on the memorial in St Johns.]

September 22nd

The Perkins girls are quite ready to leave as soon as the ship comes to take the exchange of prisoners.

October 6th

The two Perkins girls have been so busy and useful to the prisoners who are sick in the hospitals. Some were taken to Boudjah and there Ethel and Evelyn worked hard giving them comforts. Evelyn was allowed to nurse them. One Englishman died and they were so unhappy over him. They had to do everything for him, lay him out and put him in his coffin. Now Evelyn goes once a week to all the hospitals in town where sick are scattered about. We hear the ship is to come in fifteen days time, but we are not sure whether it will or not. So many times we have been disappointed.

Let me know if you find any further trace of them!

Joanna

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frev

Thanks again Joanna - fascinating stuff! I'll be sure to let you know if I come across any other mention of them (pity they didn't have more 'unusual' names - might be easier to trace!).

Cheers, Frev

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