The sinking of the Empire Patrol on 29 September 1945 forms a significant part of the history of Castellorizo and relates to many thousands of descendants of Castellorizians residing in other parts of Greece, far away Australia and many other countries.
The ill fated British ship returning refugees from Palestine back to the island at the cessation of hostilities after the second World War caught fire and sunk in the Mediterranean with the loss of 33 lives , mainly women and children, and huge devastation to some 500 passengers who were subsequently forced to leave their home of birth and migrate to other lands. This spelt the devastation of this geographically picturesque isle which for many years remained practically deserted save for the recent rejuvenation and interest shown by the small remaining population and those descendants from far away lands.
Castellorizo ( often spelled with the letter "K" and at times referred to by its ancient name "Megisti" ) is the most south easterly part of Greece , situated only 2-3 kilometres from the western Turkish coast. Considering its tiny size of only 8.88 square kilometers the island played a significant part in the Second World War and caught the attention and military strategies of the leaders of the major powers, let alone the relentless bombing by the German air force.
In the early part of the twenty century Castellorizo enjoyed a period of immense wealth and prosperity with a resident population of 9000 to 10000 and another 5000 or so Castellorizians residing permanently on the opposite coast of Anatolia. With a lamentable comparison soon after the sinking of the Empire Patrol there were a mere 200 to 300 residents remaining .
In our local Perth scene due to chain migration before and after WW2 a large Castellorizian fraternity was established and maintained by subsequent generations of descendents. It is significant to record that the Castellorizian Association of Western Australia arguably is the oldest ongoing such body in the world and will be celebrating its 100th year of establishment in 2012.
For a detailed history of the island and its past he reader may well find it of interest to refer to the book by Nicholas G. Pappas Castellorizo An Illustrated History of The Island and its Conquerors. On the antiquity aspect of the island's history Dr Norman G Ashton has researched extensively and recorded his findings in his book Ancient Megisti – The Forgotten Kastellorizo.
The story of the sinking of the Empire Patrol can only be brief and sketchy in this presentation . Its main purpose being to underline the human interest of the scenario. A more detailed account and documentation can be found in the publication of Dr Paul Boyatzis and Nicholas Pappas Embers on The Sea---The Empire Patrol Disaster, 1945.
The 50th Anniversary of the sinking of the Empire Patrol was commemorated extensively in Perth Western Australia by survivors of the tragedy with representations from other states including Mr & Mrs Nicholas Pappas. We were particularly honoured to be blessed with the attendance of his Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis who represented the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos. His Grace assisted by the Very Reverend Father George Litas celebrated the Liturgy and the Memorial for the repose of the souls of the 33 who perished in the tragedy.
The events relating to the above were extensively reported in the Australian media and overseas. The organizers were delighted with the response of Castellorizians , friends and other interested parties. Of particular significance was the contact made by rescuers , sailors and submariners who assisted significantly in those tragic days. Their accounts and the material that came to hand since Embers on The Sea was written prompted the production of this Website. We trust you will find it of interest and informative.