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Newsletter Archive > March 2012

19933: Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 04.03.2012

March 2012

Dear Friends of Kythera,

a couple of days ago I received an email from Michaela Davis, a Year 12 student at the Tuncurry Campus of the Great Lakes College. She's conducting an investigation for her Society and Culture HSC course on the topic "Does the traditional rite of passage of the "Debutante Ball" still hold significance and purpose in Australia's society today?" The questionnaire is just below this article. If you've ever attended the annual Kytherian Associations of Australia's Debutante Ball and like to help Michaela with her project, just copy the questions below, put them in a new email, answer them, and send them to this address: rfdavis@optusnet.com.au

We know from past enquiries that the Kythera-Family.net website is a great source of information for students from around the world. It provides not only the obvious material about the Kytherian community but is also a treasure-trove for those searching for less obvious knowledge and stories. Such as about "Debutant Balls". Or pictures of Mediterranean flora and fauna. I might have mentioned in a previous newsletter that the cow's tooth in the Natural History Museum section on the site brings in dozens of visitors each month - ours must be one of the few sites in the world with a decent picture of one. 80 000 pages of material are viewed on the site each month, which makes 960 000 each year. It's obvious that the site is being visited by people who have no ancestral connection to the island and are perhaps discovering it for the first time on the internet. Hopefully it will inspire them to visit.
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I’m currently on the plane back to Berlin after spending 10 days on Kythera - the 3 hours of flight offer an excellent opportunity to finally put this newsletter together. The weather on Kythera fluctuated between Siberian temperatures, spring-like sunshine, torrential rain (the cisterns are all full now) and gale-force winds. It was also pretty-much deserted. Most of the Albanians had left the island to find work in Turkey and many of the elderly who have family in Piraeus or Athens go there for the coldest months. Despite the un-summery conditions, I enjoyed every moment. But then I enjoy Kythera even when I’m not there.

How? Kythera can be therapeutic. Not just when we are lying on a beach there, or enjoying a summer dinner party. Our island can provide us with relief even when we’re not there.


The tranquil beach at Paliopoli.

I remember many years ago when I was suffering from repetitive strain injury (RSI), my hands constantly aching. I was practicing the clarinet a lot, typing on a keyboard all day, and holding books up and open half the night, reading them while I was lying in bed. The RSI was so intense I had to stop doing all three activities. I visited many doctors, some of whom wanted to operate, others said it was psychosomatic, but their suggestions got me nowhere. Until I visited one general practitioner who thought he was a gifted psychologist as well. He informed me that I obviously hated my work – which was not the case – and that this was the cause of my problem. He sought to prove it to me with a simple exercise. He told me to close my eyes and think of being at work, miserably stressed, not enjoying myself. I thought of my work, how much I enjoyed it, and how excited I was when I could help one of our candidates get a job (I had started a recruitment business). Then Dr. Freud told me to think of a most calm and peaceful place, somewhere I really wanted to be. I automatically thought of Paliopoli beach on Kythera, gliding underwater in silence along it’s endless flat sandy floor. And I noticed how my shoulders dropped 5 centimetres. Thus I realised that my problem was being caused not by stress or overuse of my hands, but by carrying my shoulders high when I was excited and enthusiastic about my work or music. The quack of a doctor had inadvertently led me to the solution. And the thought of Kythera had been a key element. (To end the story, for those of you interested, the real remedy to my ailment was not only consciously and constantly dropping my shoulders to their relaxed position, but also to go to the gym twice a week to build up my back which also relieved the tight muscles around my neck and shoulders which were crushing the nerves leading to my arms. In other words, my wrists hurt but the problem was in my shoulders).

But back to Kythera. The point I am trying to make is that, whether you’ve been to Kythera or not, it represents something to you which I hope is positive and relaxing. And we can go to that place in our mind’s eye and enjoy the thought whenever we want to, a bit like how we can gain joy by picturing our loved ones. Just as important, when we're not there, is the thought of returning there. It reminds me of the way some people of a religious persuasion dream of visiting Mecca or Jerusalem. It has a spiritual dimension.

Dad – who’s never been to Kythera or Greece by the way – used to tell me the story about my yiayia raving about how much better everything had been on Kythera, where she had spent the first 25 years of her life. The lemons were more fragrant, the water sweeter, the soil richer, the people friendlier, the culture more developed... Kythera Kythera Kythera. It drove Dad mad. Being an ex-pat myself I can identify with yiayia. It is almost automatic to compare positively the place you come from to the place you’ve moved to. Dad’s favourite part of the story was when my yiayia finally went back to Kythera in the 1960s after an absence of 35 years. She was supposed to stay for six months but returned to Australia after three. Apparently she was shocked by the primitiveness of Kythera – the lack of flush-toilets and hot running water, the ubiquitous donkeys and absence of widespread motorized transport. Australia had developed a great deal in those 35 years, while Greece had not. Yiayia didn’t mention Kythera much after that. And when, at the age of 18, I visited her siblings in Sydney – themselves born on Kythera – for advice about what I should do on my travels to Greece, they told me that I needn’t go to Kythera as it was a barren rocky backwater full of hillbillies.

The Kythera we know now lacks none of the modern amenities, except public transport. We can enjoy cappuccinos, hot showers and flush-toilets (as long as we put the paper into a separate bin), along with the sun and sea and hospitality which Kythera is famous for. We can use our own images of that Kythera – a blue island sky, peaceful pebble beaches, splashing fresh-water springs, extensive fir-tree forests, church-bell chiming Sundays and fresh island food – to escape to when we need a break. Try it. Close your eyes, think of your favourite place on Kythera, and ... drop your shoulders.

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Flying Again
During my visit to Kythera I managed to fly once more around the island and collect the final missing pictures for the "Kythera from Above" book of photographs, which should be available before Christmas at the latest. A special guest author from our community has written a beautiful piece for the introduction and I'll be hard-pressed to put together a layout for the book worthy of it. Here are a couple of shots from last Friday's flight.

The village of Logothetianika with the water of the West coast behind it.


Dragona, the island off the coast of Avlemonas


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The Crisis Report
The financial situation in Greece weighs heavily on the population there. Not knowing what is in store for them makes it particularly testing. Some have decided to act: a very elderly woman with a large handbag stood in front of me at the bank in Potamos and asked the teller for €120 000 in cash from her account. Panayoti, my friend the bank teller, asked her if she wanted it in notes or coins. The whole bank fell apart in laughter. The run on the banks began long ago, and the common notion in Greece that all the money from the EU sent in to "rescue" Greece is really going to French and German creditors is quite false: it is the Greek banks which are in most need of propping up. It is true that some Greek banks are subsidiaries of French ones, but the former would have run out of money long ago if not for active funding by the EU and IMF.

Most Greeks I've spoken to don't seem to have come to realisation - rationally nor emotionally - that there is a good chance that Greece will return to the drachmae in the foreseeable future. I guess that most people pulling their savings from the banks are doing so out of fear that those banks will go bust, not because they want to avoid waking one morning to an account full of devalued drachmas. Why don't the other Europeans impose an orderly default on Greece sooner rather than later? Perhaps they are waiting for the winter to pass so Greeks don't freeze because they can't afford heating oil (at least until next winter), or are they waiting for Italy and Spain to shore up their economic situation so an official Greek default doesn't take them down with it? In Greece the reintroduction of the drachma appears to be a taboo subject amongst the leading politicians - at least in public - probably more for image and emotional reasons than for economic. Yet there is a growing realisation amongst economists and commentators in other EU countries that reverting to the drachma is the only way to revitalise the Greek economy. Costs must come down and they won't if people's wages are continuously cut while their rental and mortgage costs remain the same. By changing to the drachma, which would be devalued by the market considerably after its introduction, people's income and many expenses would be pegged together. Admittedly, everything imported would be much more expensive, including oil and machinery. On the upside, this would make Greek products more affordable at home and abroad thus boosting local industry considerably. Tourism would also increase due to a devalued currency. The side-effects? Extended families would move back together to save money and young Greeks would again learn to cook from their elders. Higher car and petrol prices might mean less cars on the streets and less pollution. Perhaps this might even be a good time to invest in donkey breeding in Greece...

The Great Ditch at Aroniathika
There is one good way to make a heap of money in Greece right now without getting your hands dirty with donkeys. I thought of it while some friends and I were trying to figure out why some supermarket chain from the Peloponnese was digging a colossal crater right where the road from the airport meets the main road between Potamos and Hora at Aroniathika. You can see it in the aerial shot below.

It's so big you could probably see it from a satellite. Absolutely crazy. As if there aren't enough supermarkets on Kythera for the 4000-odd inhabitants. There are two in and around Potamos, a big new one in Tsikalaria (or is it Kondolianika...?) and one in Karvounathes and Livathi... They're all expensive, I'll grant you, and I'd love to see one come in and sell at reasonable prices. But let's face it, it's not worth it. So my friends and I were debating what the scam could look like to justify such a seemingly foolhardy investment. While most of us think it will never progress past the excavation stage, there must be some reason behind it. Is it a ponzi loan scheme: the chain has debts so it borrows more money from an unsuspecting bank for a new supermarket to pay off the old debt? Or perhaps they take out a loan and skip the country before it goes down the drain completely? Or is it for kickbacks from a construction company? Then I realised that it is probably a clever currency speculation scam: the chain gets a few million Euros from the bank to build and locks the euros up in a safe. It waits a couple of months for the Greeks to revert to the drachma and for the exchange rate to plummet. If they've borrowed 4 million Euros, it will be the equivalent of 4 million drachmas when the new currency comes in and that will be what they have to pay back, but within a week it will fall from 1:1 to 1:4. In other words, the chain will have to pay back 4 million drachmas to the bank, but will only have to exchange 1 million euros to come up with the 4 million drachmas they owe. They thus still have 3 million euros in their safe and have paid off the loan. Clever, huh? So this is the time to take out a loan in Greece and fill your mattress with euros until the change of currency.

James Prineas (james@kythera-family.net)

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DEBUTANTE BALL QUESTIONNAIRE

I am a student of Great Lakes College, Tuncurry Senior Campus, in year 12. As a part of my Society and Culture course we have to conduct a major investigation called the Personal Interest Project. For this project, a questionnaire is needed to further my understanding on the topic:
“Does the traditional rite of passage: The Debutante Ball, hold significance and purpose in today’s Australian society?” It would be much appreciated if you could fill out this questionnaire - simply copy it into a separate email, answer the questions and send it back to me at this address: rfdavis@optusnet.com.au.
Thank You
Michaela Davis

1. What is your gender? (simply delete the answer/s which isn't/aren't applicable)
• Male
• Female

2. What is your age?
• 10-19
• 20-29
• 30-39
• 40- 59
• 60-79+

3. Do you know what a Debutante Ball is?
• Yes
• No
Comments:____________________________

4. Do you believe that Debutante balls are a coming of age process?

__________________________________

5. Have you attended / participated in any Debutante Balls?
• Yes
• No

6. If yes, why did you participate?
• Family members wanted you to participate
• Social Status
• Because it was a ‘becoming of age process’
• Just to have fun
• Other:
__________________________________

7. What is your family's general attitude towards Debutante Balls?
• Your family thinks one should participate
• They do not believe in the traditional ritual
• Never really discussed it
• Don’t know what a Debutante ball is

8. Do Young Men play an important role in Debutante Balls today, or are they more like a ‘handbag’?
• Yes, they play an important role
• No, they are like a handbag.

Comment: ______________________________________________________________________

9. Do you perceive that Debutante Balls are more associated with wealthy high class society?
• Yes
• No
Comment:_______________________

10. Do you believe that young women may be motivated to participate in Debutante Balls in order to gain social status and/or acceptance?

__________________________________

11. Originally the Debutante Ball signaled the purity of young women as they were presented to society. Is that still the case in today’s society?

__________________________________

12. Do you think families challenge other families with elaborate displays of wealth and lineage when it comes to their daughters participating in Debutante Balls?

• Definitely
• Possibly
• Maybe
• Never
• Other___________________________________

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Congratulations! 100th birthday - 28th February 2012
posted by Gaye Hegeman

Iris Andronicos celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday at her home in the Brisbane suburb of Taringa, in the company of family and friends. Iris is the widow of George T. Andronicos, son of Theo G. Andronicos (Potamos) who arrived in Sydney in 1897. Seated to her right is her sister-in-law, Rene Cook (nee Andronicos) aged 92, younger sister of George.



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Kytherian Music

Does anyone have old copies of Kytherian music on tape or on old records? We'll get them digitalised for you and make them available to all. Especially interesting are the recording from the 50s and 60s of Tsagaroyiannoi from Mitata (also known as Pitsikas) and Rhymes, Mantinathes (spontaneous rhymes) of Kytherian origin.

Contact Ioannis Mavrommattis at yiannimav@hotmail.com.

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Interior of the Paragon Cafe West Wyalong
posted by George J Mallos

West Wyalong is a town in New South Wales, Australia which is the main town of the Bland Shire, located in the Central West region of New South Wales,467 km west of Sydney, on the crossroads of the Newell Highway between Melbourne and Brisbane, and the Mid-Western Highway between Sydney and Adelaide.



Mallos Bros & Co Cafe in front of the shop at West Wyalong
Below: this is the rest of the family. The little boy is my father John, now 81.


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A Kytherian Blessing
by Maria of Lourandianika

After feeling honoured being able to write for The Kytherian and this Kytherian newsletter, never did I expect what lay before me in my future life.

A friend who is such a warm and loving person named Diamanta and her husband Arthur Condoleon appeared in my life once more. Little did I know when I was preparing for a trip to New Zealand aboard the Sun Princess, that I would meet once more with my childhood friend.

She and her husband were making their first cruise, a trip to last 14 days. One year ago, my beloved father figure George Gianniotis realised who "Maria of Louradianika" was and contacted me with such kind words. Such memories came flooding back as I recalled, while very sick as a child, being sent to Carinda, a tiny country town which, if you blinked, you could almost drive through not realising it was there. Yet I spent such wonderful months there with the warmest and loving Kytherian relatives one could wish for. Not having packed enough clothes for what should have been a short period of time to assist me to get my strength back, my beautiful Aunt Vasso gave me a turquoise blue button-up a shirt blouse with yellow and blue checks. How I loved these clothes as each morning I would sit on the steps of the only store for miles around, listening over and over the song sung by Doris Day “Que sera sera”, watching as large trucks would refill their petrol tanks at the 2 petrol bowsers in front of the store as they headed for their next destination. How happy I was, a 13-year-old child. Welcomed into the family as if I was a daughter, the sky darkening the day I had to return to Sydney and my own family.

I attended Arthur and Diamanta's wedding. They have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary just last February. Diamanta and her sister Regina visited me one day approximately a year ago, with Peter, his wife, my George and my darling Aunt Bessy, yet for me, she will always be Auntie Vasso. Her mother had looked after my own mother, filling the void of being separated from her own mother so young. How I loved her then and today.

A phone call from Aunt Vasso surprised me as when I mentioned that my husband and I were leaving for a 14 day cruise to New Zealand, my joy was overwhelming. Diamanta and Arthur would be on the same cruise. The time I spent with Diamanta and her loving husband on the cruise was such wonderful gift for me. Diamanta gave me two photos, given to her by Aunt Vasso. My mother, just 23 years old, so beautiful, a perky little hat on her head, walking with a young Vasso, holding me in her arms in a shawl I somehow and without understanding still remember to this very day. I was just a babe of 2 or 3 months old at the most. The other photo was of my mother in her late 60’s in Kythera. I looked at this photo, seeing myself in many ways looking back at me. How I wish this was not so as my wonderful memories have been so overcast with dark clouds. Still, I cherish them as my George is there also drinking the famous Greek coffee.

I wished to write about this trip, and asked the permission of Arthur and Diamanta before printing their names. They were all too happy for all to know about our reunion. The last 3 days were truly the happiest I could remember for such a long time. The husband of one of the couples they were traveling with was introduced to me and was initially very formal. They had told him who I was, and he asked to speak to me. He told me that, when he was just a young lad he would pick olives on the family property “The Vroulea” for my grandfather the priest. My grandfather, after the picking of the olives, would take him to church and anoint his hands with Holy Water. This again for me was another gift to hear of grandpa spoken of so highly, as to this very day his wise words still allow me to attempt to accept every stumble on this road of my life, to pick myself up and to continue to the best of my ability.

The days I spent with Diamanta and Arthur were my greatest gift. I felt the richest woman alive. If I were to go into any financial institution and fill in the required place for my assets, I would list them as priceless. Yes, I am such a wealthy woman, one who can never be bankrupted. These assets do not have a monitory value placed on them, as they are priceless.

Now as I face the most difficult time in my life, knowing I would not survive even a one way trip to Kythera for the church services which have been arranged my dearest George. My plans must be cancelled. My body is broken. A bone scan showed 14 fractures in my body and followed by a CT scan, showing more detail, I have been told to place my affairs in order as the pain I suffered in my legs now has consumed my entire body.

Today, my Aunt Vasso, Diamanta and Arthur drove through heavy rain to come and spend as much time as I wished for them to stay. Aunt Vasso brought me such a priceless gift, the Holy Water from the church and the Vasiliko, to wet the leaves and flick the Holy Water over my body. The Kytherian field of red poppies which I had remembered often at difficult times were beyond me at this time as I struggled to see them, but saw only black clouds. After the use of the Holy Water, I finally saw my field of red poppies once more. The love, the kisses which I had always yearned from my own mother came tenfold over. My darling Aunt Vasso was not content though with the amount of Holy Water used, and once more took a large piece of Vasiliko, placing Holy Water on it, touching my body all over as she made the sign of the cross, speaking a prayer over and over, giving me such comfort.

On Monday, 27th February, I will be admitted into a private hospital under the care of one of the top pain specialists. I believed that I would be pain free for several days, but now will undergo bone marrow testing and I am truly afraid. But knowing the many fellow Kytherians who are praying for me and lighting a candle for me in church is so comforting. I am a simple woman, with deep beliefs, but still have shed many a tear when hearing the latest news of my medical problems now facing me, my grandfather's words now even more important than before, as I face such a challenge.

The suggestion of radiotherapy must be dismissed, as my doctors inform me I would not survive it. My life is now in God's hands.

I have opened my heart to share this experience with the many who wish me well.

It is with great sorrow that I share this difficult time with my fellow Kytherians, and, as I explained to my dear George, I will return to Louradianika, but under different circumstances to those which he had hoped. He finally understood, and with the support of my husband and the many friends, old and new. I will be visited daily in the hospital by this wonderful family who I cannot think of in any other way than my own family, making it easier for my husband who I refuse to allow to drive so far so often, although he will accompany me the day I am admitted, which as I write, is tomorrow.

It is difficult to write emails now, but I wish to be remembered always as Maria of Louradianika, a true Kytherian, daughter of Stamatis Marcellos, and to also take this opportunity to thank the many who have called me, so being blessed by the support and love I am being shown. I will return to Kythera, but I will not return as previously planned, but as this is where I have arranged for my final resting place to be with my maternal family.

I ask if it is possible, and if any of my wonderful family, who even if they are not blood related, are my family, to please light a candle for me and to speak a small prayer. Even if not for me, but for the wonderful man, my husband, who has stood beside me these almost 44 years, loving me even through my difficult times when I would lash out at him with the frustrations pent up inside me.

Today, as the night has come and I cannot sleep, I chose to put my thoughts to print on my computer.

Thank you once more for the love and support I have been shown. I will never lose my faith in God as He has chosen me for a reason. This is His will and not for me to question.

Today I received my results which I feared so much. My worst fears realized. I will attempt to continue writing for as long as I can with the support and loved by the precious family and friends who have blessed my life, allowing me the strength to do so.

God bless to all.
Maria of Louradinika

Maria (Marcellos) Whyte
maria.wwhyte@gmail.com
4 Trinity Crescent.,
Sippy Downs 4556
Queensland.


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Fotini (Teena) Papadopoulos
Christoforianika,
Kythera.

Dear Members of the Kytherian Community,

Some of you may know me, and others not. I am an Australian of Kytherian decent, (my mother Maria, nee Feros, from Mitata). After years of coming and going, I chose to become a permanent resident here 10 years ago. I am married to Nikos Samios, and we have two boys, 8 and 5.

In Australia I worked as a High school teacher with the Dept. of Education, as well as being actively involved in the Greek theatre scene in Sydney, 'Sidetrack Theatre', 'Take-Away theatre' and 'Hellenic theatre', as well as others. I now run classes during those 'difficult' winter months, and have been working with a core (amateur) group for the past 4 years, - 'Theatriki Omada FOS'.
We have produced a kid's show each year, and have achieved an admirable body of work including 'Gynekes Monologoun' in 2010, a collection of monologues, written by the performers, which was well received by locals and visitors.

We have a work in progress, (early stages) dealing with the economic, political and social crisis we are experiencing here presently, as you are all aware of I'm sure! All our work is unfunded, energy and time expenditure high, but I know I make a positive difference to my community with my work, and that's enough to keep going.

I just want to give you all a glimpse of what it is like here at the moment. There is the black cloak of the crisis that hangs over everything, many families have been without incomes for months, although we are still better off than those in Athens and other major cities. We have our perivolia at least! New taxes are followed by more taxes, there has been an out of control increase in the homeless, suicide rates, mental illness, and each day we live in uncertainty.

A couple of weeks ago, two young people were killed in a horrific car accident. Boyfriend and girlfriend, he was 18, she was 16. It has really shaken families, peers and the whole community. Another young life was lost only 6 months ago. A sixteen-year-old 16 in motor-bike accident.

There are many parts of the equation at fault, but fundamentally it is the lack of education. I am also a member of the Potamos Primary School Parents' committee, we have discussed some kind of 'Road Safety' Educational program for the children of the island. Katerina Mariatou, also on the committee, has found a program suitable, but at a cost of around 2,000 euro. Some of the cost can be covered, accommodation also. It's a three day program. The coffers are empty, the Department of Education offers nothing educationally nor financially, we don't even have school supplies,... parents are asked to donate paper for photocopying! The Local Council is 'tha', 4 years now they have been promising to fix the roof, (a major structural problem) so the kids don't get rained on during class! But alas!

So what I'm suggesting is maybe some kind of fund raising for the kids on Kythera.
Making school a more creative, safer and friendlier place is a great place to start.

Looking forward to your reply,
Yours sincerely,
Teena.

fotini.pa@hotmail.com

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The Kytherian Chronicle of Father Gregorios Logothetis

March 22. 1809. Monday of Holy Week.
John Paspalas of Logothetianika killed his legal wife because he loved his neighbour, the widow Malitaina, who was taken by the Magistrate, sat on a donkey and paraded in the square. She was paraded by the soldiers with a paper helmet on her head.

March 23, 1809
Father Panagiotis Lichopiris from Karvounades came to blows with Petros Maselos who had been exiled and returned. The priest was taken before the magistrate because he had taken Petros' wife and sinned, and on the Wednesday of Holy Week they cut off his beard in front of the Church of the Crucified Christ in Chora. And again they put him in prison and on the 25 March they took the priest's woman and did the same to her as had been done with Malitaina. Malitaina was then exiled as was the above mentioned priest's woman, and the priest was banned from all priestly duties and freed from his bonds. One of those present at the time when they were cutting the priest's hair, called Tzannios Chavalas, told him: “Why cry? If you wanted to be a priest you would not do such things.” And he took the beard and tied it round the neck of his hunting-dog which he much loved, but in the morning he found the dog dead.

24. June, 1809
The cursed Poerios has left and another named Metaxas, a Cephalonian, has come to be Commander of the military.

25. September, 1809
The new Chancellor has come, Master John Kondoleon, a compatriot, to hold the highest position, and the Zakynthian, Dionysios Arvanitakis has left.

27. September, 1809
Two English frigates came to Avlemonas and fought with the French who were in command and the English defeated the French. On the twenty-eighth of the same month they landed cannons at Vrouleas and brought them on wagons to Trahilas opposite the Kastro and gave fierce battle, the English firing from Trahilas otherwise called Palameda. The French also fired cannons and killed Benetos Levounis and a girl named Diamanda, also wounded was a servant named Basil. On the 30 September the French surrendered the Kastro. Two days before, Master Dimitrios Lazarettos guided the English, leading them to Karvelas and from there to the Kastro. The Russians and the French boarded the English ships and left.

Read more from this fascinating chronicle at:
http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=5-48&cid=2&did=15569

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