The Greeks in Australia: More of the Story
Phil Kafcaloudes, a writer, journalist and broadcaster, has written a novelised treatment of the wartime life of a remarkable woman, his maternal grandmother who was a kind of Greek, Nancy Wake. I launched this story, entitled Someone Else’s War, at Dymocks, George Street Sydney, today.
I reflected again on the heroism of the Greeks and their resilience in extraordinary suffering. Under the German occupation which commenced in April 1941, they were a nation being starved and tortured. Their resistance to the Italian invasion had been heroic and, when the Germans came, the 16 000 strong Australian army could not have had a higher level of civilian support waging their doomed campaign at Churchill’s insistence. The campaign ended with the evacuation of Australian troops; the poor Greeks were left to suffer.
With few confirmed facts Phil tells how Olga ran espionage and survived her arrest and imprisonment. Just to confirm the Nancy Wake analogy, she was part of a team that made it out of Greece back to England. From there she was sent to work with the French resistance. She then resurfaces in 1946 working as an interpreter for the British King’s Regiment and later for the Americans. She returned to Australia in 1952. A remarkable story and one that we are only vouchsafed glimpses of, given the paucity of material.
We must be grateful to Phil Kafcaloudes for excavating what he could and exploring it, giving us another insight into the interaction of Greeks and Australians in the war and after.