“So I experienced the great earthquakes”. A shocking personal testimony. (First part)

We live in Europe’s most seismic area and this is something that does not change. That’s why we’ve learned to live together with the groom. As familiar and, of course, the awakening of the legendary leader of the Giants disrupts us and sometimes scares us. As happened with the recent powerful earthquake that hit our neighbouring island of Zakynthos or the earthquakes of 2014 in Lixouri. And if these last earthquakes caused only material damage due to the strong anti-seismic shielding of our islands, it did not happen in 1953 with the earthquake of that year to mark forever the social and economic structure of the southern Ionian islands.

Today, 66 years later, poulatakefalonias has the honour of publishing a shocking, unpublished, almost autobiographical narrative of that period, as a silent protagonist lived. Mr. Constantinos Sarantidis from the village of Mesotopos, Lesvos, who served his Royal Navy and was found from the very first moment in the earthquake Kefallonia helped to relieve the people affected.

(Mr. Sarantidis in 1953 and today)

This is an extremely interesting text with fascinating details published for the first time, along with photographs from Mr. Sarantidis’ personal record.

First of all, we would like to thank Mr. Sarantidis, who trusted us his manuscripts, Professor and writer Academy Award winner Fotis Vasiloglou for his valuable help and our fellow professor Nikos Nikolopoulos for his kind meditation .

The text, due to its scope, will be published in three consecutive stages. Good reading!

Earthquakes of the Ionian Islands – August 1953

Direction Sheet I was
at the then Royal Navy and current Naval Station with engineering specialty, as I was a Merchant Marine Engineer. In the morning call, it would be March month, the gunman says to me: “Go to the office and wait.” He comes to the office of motion and gives me a roadmap for the Royal Ship “Fighter”. The mooring position of the ship was the port of Piraeus in Akti Miaouli, opposite the Megaro Vathi and Saronikos café.

When I arrived from the naval station in the position where the roadmap was written, the ship was missing. In the Saronic Cafe which I sat for coffee, he told me that the ship was leaving and will come tomorrow night at 10 and I will come in the morning. The runway I took was for Wednesday and I went to the ship on Friday morning.

The National Foundation & Sea Cruises
Under the name National Institute, located at 18 Filellinon Street in Athens and President Queen Frederick, was a body to say so, which had apprenticeships schools for boys and girls and did various other recreational activities .

The “Fighter” was disarmed by the heavy artillery of bow and stern guns, from side guns, with a reduced crew consisting of officers, officers and sailors seconded to the National Foundation by the Royal Navy force and by security armor.

Because then the world did not have money to make sea excursions, the National Foundation to help, made the ship available for travel. Every Wednesday for schools, usually high schools and universities and every Saturday for workers’ unions in OLYEN, Tram, fertilizers, etc. The trips were to Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Amorgos, Hydra, and so on. We left Piraeus with about 200 passengers at 3 in the afternoon and went to Tinos on Sunday morning for church in the Church of Our Lady. At 11 o’clock in the morning we left and went to Syros and from there we left at 4 o’clock in the afternoon for Piraeus where we arrived at 9-10 o’clock in the evening depending on the weather.

On the front deck that had come off the gun, it had become a track and on all the decks around benches sitting six people with the loudspeakers sounding the then music. Gunaris, Swagul and “Ton you bam” were giving and taking. Dance and music until sunset, because in the bow, when the ship is at sea, lighting is forbidden.

The excursion coordinator was the Piraeus Labor Force for Workers, and the Federation of Universities together with the Ministry of Education for High Schools, who, in consultation with the National Institutes, planned the trips.

The reputation of the warship “Fighter” for traveling on the entertainment of workers was spread and the Macedonian-Thrace Labor Party asked for a share, that is to travel for the workers of Macedonia and Thrace as well. At that time, there was a Ministry of Northern Greece and the Minister sent a letter to Queen Frederick directly, describing the workers’ request, which was immediately accepted, and the War Ship was ordered to go to Northern Greece. It must have been the last days of June and at 10 am we arrived at the port of Thessaloniki where we were welcomed. The Deputy Minister of Northern Greece, officers of the workers’ unions, the municipal authority, the Metropolitan and other authorities.

The Royal Navy personnel were segregated into leftist and leftistoichi, in order to have a smooth operation in the service. On the day we arrived, the exit row had left-handed. The Mayor of Thessaloniki organized two dance parties on the roof of the White Tower for the crew of the “Fighter” and then began traveling from Thessaloniki to Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, Kyra Panagia and Volos, as well as to Alexandroupolis, Lemnos, Samothraki, Thassos and Mount Athos in Dafni and Vatopaidi but only for men.

The first signal for the earthquakes
On 9 August at 8 am we left Alexandroupolis for Kavala where we arrived at noon. At midnight we would leave for Thassos and then Alexandroupolis. In Kavala all the passengers went out and at 6pm we went out of the 12 to 6 shift as the shifts were six hours.

Where we were going, our residents welcomed with cordiality and kindness. Five the number or company. Me, another engineer, the electrician, the manager and the signalman. The coffee shopkeeper had also served at the Royal Navy and watched us. Then we ate the mousse and drank the ouzo, one for each person, the whistle of the ship whistled a call. The most likely cause for us to return to the ship was a fire. We arrived on the ship and heard from the loudspeakers command for machine preparation. We surprised what happens, and the passengers turned to the ship in the Port Authority jeep the phone telling me from the loudspeakers to return.

The news that changed the program was that the islands of the Ionian Sea are earthquakes and we would go there. 
The signal taken by the radio was:

Time of pick-up: 19:40, 
Day: 09/08/1953, 
To Ship: “Fighter” 
Attention: Mr. Governor, 
Priority: Emergency.

After the end of this signal, stop present scheduled ship voyages STOP – Your urgent STOP actions – You have landed at all times in Piraeus and receive instructions, supplies and personnel to provide immediate assistance to residents of Kefallinia, Zakynthos and Ithaca STOP – For further information, we will constantly update you via STOP.

Traveling for the earthquake-stricken islands
And since everyone, crew and passengers entered the ship at 11 o’clock in the evening, depart from Kavala to Alexandroupolis and at 8am on the 10th of August from Alexandroupolis direct Cavo Doro. As a newcomer to the Merchant Marine, the August month cruise of the whole Aegean Sea with fresh Bianco Mare meltemi or the white sea, which the Italians say, was an experience for the ship. Name and fighter thing. Thick seaside right seaside mask and the bow to be lost in the wave. By far the machines and tremors weather would go over 20 miles an hour.

In Piraeus we received shovels, shovels, sanitary material and 250 people, ie doctors, nurses, scouts, and others who were staffed by the National Foundation to inform it. Also food for passengers and drinking water. All the tanks of the ship were filled.

We left Piraeus at 4 o’clock at midnight. As long as the Aegean Sea was a storm, a night with an August moon in the Peloponnese round we did but the day the sea oil. Paper to write. Destination of the ship Nafpaktos. In Nafpaktos we arrived, it would be midnight on 11th to 12th August, we got General Iatridis, Commander – First Army Corps Chief who took over the coordination of first aid to earthquake victims. General Iatrid received this mission on the orders of Queen Frederick.

(To be continued…)

Source: www.poulatakefalonias.gr

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