Return to Castellorizo


Many were to later return to Castellorizo after the disaster but others remained in Egypt or went elsewhere in Greece. Those returning were greeted with almost total devastation of the island through bombing, pilferage and the effects of the fire.


Katina Verevis (nee Simonides) tells what happened next:


After we had been in a camp in Egypt for a several weeks we returned to Castellorizo arriving there on December 3 1945.


The fire that caused so much destruction to the empty homes


Arthur Athans describes graphically the devasting scene on the return of the refugees to the once picturesque Aegean island.


I arrived in Castellorizo aged 14 years, with my mother, Triandafilia, and sisters Glykeria and Katina. The family’s treasured possession was the house key of the front door; but there was no front door nor was there a house standing. Like most of the other refugees we had arrived on the island with hardly any personal possessions.


Our biggest disappointment following the hardships of refugee life and the tragedy of the Empire Patrol disaster was the site of the near total destruction of our island. On the left side of the island (Kavos region), the few structures still standing were the mosque, the military quarters (kazarma) and the Council chamber. The once magnificent two and three storied houses were all in ruins. Only four or five partially destroyed houses remained in this locality.


High on the hill, near the windmill, the churches of Saints Nicholas and Dimitrios were erased to the ground. The Square at “Mesi Tou Yiallou” (mid point of the water front) were in the past sailing ships of all types berthed with their goods was now a mount of stone and ruble. Many well known trade locations and shops were no longer there.


Reurning to Castellorizo - The Homes and Businesses Guttered and Burnt Out


The Castellorizian spirit of generosity prevailed. Amongst the crowd who gathered at the water front to meet the devastated refugees was our family "Good Samaritan”. It was Mrs Kristalla A Kiosoglou who came to our rescue, having arrived in Castellorizo from Palestine in a previous contingent and fortunately being spared from the Empire Patrol disaster. Mrs Kiosoglou arranged temporary accommodation and provided for our family’s basic necessities including bedding and eating utensils. We were housed in her daughter’s residence, Mrs Ethel Z Xanthis who was in Perth, Western Australia.


For Arthur and his family life in Castellorizo starts again. Soon the Xanthis house would be the location of a happy event; the wedding of Glykeria to Panayiotis Stavrou ,a Castellorizian from Cyprus, who came to the island to meet his relatives. It is said this wedding was the first to take place in Castellorizo post war.


Wedding Photo Panayiotis Stavrou to Glykeria Athanassiou 31 July 1946 in Castellorizo


Gradually daily life proceeds on the island with work, schooling and social activities. The clearing and reconstruction process by the Council continues and this body and Customs provide part time employment to young Arthur and others. Schooling starts again at the partly destroyed Santrape building but now in Greek rather than Italian as during the war.


To keep the youth socially active Stavros Exindaris and Agapitos Venitis established Sea –scouts and Wolf-cubs, activities which proved very popular. Some actions by enterprising lads were not without danger. In particular dismantling live ammunition shells to extract the gun powder and sell to fishermen had tragic consequences including the loss of life.


A 1946 photo with seascouts exercising at Mandraki.

From left: Jack Venitis, George Houlis, Stefanos Papapetrou, Dino Houlis & Michael Houlis


Others, like Paul Boyatzis and his family did not return to Castellorizo:


Some of us with relatives in Egypt did not return to Castellorizo. My mother and I were taken by her brother to Alexandria. We travelled first by vehicle to Cairo and then to Alexandria by train. At the train station a French magazine was purchased and this acted as a source of reminder of the event, and my continued interest in the tragedy over the years. In a way it is also partly responsible for the book Nicholas Pappas and I wrote and for this website.


The French Magazine Purchased in Egypt by the Boyatzis Family


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