23 April marks the centenary anniversary of the death of Rupert Brooke on Skyros.
Skyros Municipality and Central Greece (Sterea Ellada) Regional Authority in cooperation with the British Embassy honoured the memory of the great English poet Rupert Brooke with a series of events on Skyros.
Brooke died on St Geroge’s Day (23 April) 1915 in a French hospital ship, at anchor in Treis Boukes Bay, Skyros. He was heading towards Gallipoli, when he fell fatally ill with septicemia.
On 23 April Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw led a memorial service at Rupert Brooke’s grave at Treis Boukes. In a moving atmosphere, the British Ambassador, John Kittmer gave a brief address- - and the representative of the Rupert Brooke Society, Neil Maybin, read one of Brooke’s fragmentary poems from 1915. Revd Canon Bradshaw spoke about his short but rich life.
Ambassador Kittmer, the British Defence Attaché Captain Richard Blackwell, the Regional Governor Costas Bakoyannis, the Deputy Regional Governor Fanis Spanos, the Mayor of Skyros Miltos Hadjiyannakis, and Neil Maybin, laid wreaths, alongside representatives of foreign missions in Greece. A Hellenic Airforce unit was present and a bugler from the Hellenic Airforce played the Last Post and Reveille.
In the evening the Ambassador opened an audio-visual exhibition entitled “Rupert Brooke on Skyros: an Aegean corner of a foreign field” at the Skyros schools complex. The exhibition will run until 1 September. Admission is free. Rare photographic material has been provided by the Imperial War Museum, the Rupert Brooke Society and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Visitors have an opportunity to learn about Rupert Brooke’s poetry and the historic aspects of the Great War, from the Gallipoli campaign to the Macedonian Front, events that radically changed the map of Europe.
In his short address the British Ambassador stressed:
The exhibition we are inaugurating here is an expression of our duty to educate new generations about the sacrifices of our grandparents. I hope that everyone who visits it, leaves with a renewed commitment to remember - to remember for ever those who gave their tomorrow for our today.
Mayor of Skyros, Miltos Hadjiyannakis added:
This great poet was born and raised in Britain but died and was buried here in Skyros; thus he became the link between Skyros and Britain up to the present day. It was his destiny, it seems, to leave his last breath here at such a young age, serving his country during the Great War during which both British and Greeks fought side by side against their enemies. I would like to thank the British Ambassador, his support and contribution made today’s events and particularly this interesting exhibition possible. The exhibition which will run for the next few months will be a point of interest for Skyros residents and visitors.
There were also addresses by the Deputy Regional Governor Fanis Spanos and the President of the Central Greece Regional Council Mina Papanastasiou while the Vice President of ‘Manos and Anastasia Faltaits Museum’ Anna Faltaits made an interesting speech about Rupert Brooke’s strong links with Skyros and the beautiful statue at Rupert Brooke Square.
The exhibition is part of a series of events that the British Embassy is planning, through to 2018, to mark the centenary of the First World War. In addition the British Embassy participates in other commemoration events. On 18-19 April the Ambassador was on Lemnos participating in remembrance events for those fallen during the Gallipoli campaign. On Saturday 25 April he attended the memorial service at the Phaleron War Cemetery in honour of the ANZAC forces who lost their lives during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.