Source: Neos Kosmos by Michael Sweet
Vevi lost soldiers dig begins
The Greek army has begun excavating the alleged unmarked burial site of Australian soldiers who died in April 1941 during the Battle of Vevi.
The dig, sanctioned by the Greek government after the intervention of Minister for Macedonia and Thrace, Theodoros Karaoglou, began last Monday in Vevi.
The location was first pointed out to a delegation of Australian veterans in 1991 who visited the village during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Greek Campaign in WWII.
More than 22 years later the first steps are being taken to finally ascertain the validity of the claim.
Newcastle school teacher Tom Tsamouras – who brought the alleged site to the attention of the Greek authorities – told Neos Kosmos that the excavation team, led by Brigadier General Panayiotis Stamatis of the 1st Army Corp, had experienced a number of ‘hits’ on metal detectors since the dig began on Monday, but no human remains had been found as yet.
“They are convinced that the area we photographed and supplied to them is ‘unusual’,” Mr Tsamouras told Neos Kosmos.
In recent months Mr Tsamouras has corresponded with Unrecovered War Casualties – Army (UWCA), the Australian Defence Force department responsible for investigating assertions of unrecovered war dead.
The department – that was due to open a case-file to examine evidence relating to the site – has reportedly expressed disappointment at the Greek military going ahead with the dig without it being undertaken in conjunction with Australian authorities.
Mr Tsamouras said that whilst he was delighted that the dig had begun, “I would have been more delighted if this was a joint venture with our own UWCA”.
Neos Kosmos understands that UWCA’s contact details were supplied to the Greek authorities before the dig began.
If remains are discovered that are believed to be those of Australian soldiers, it is the responsibility of UWCA to seek to identify the remains, and if identified, make funeral arrangements with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.