submitted by Marianne Casimatis on 27.02.2015
Biography of Emanuel Casimatis
To view / download a version of this article in Greek, as a .pdf:
Emanuel Casimatis article.pdf
Born in Pitsinianika, Kythera in April 1919, Emanuel Casimatis was the tenth child of Gerasimos and Anizina Casimatis. He came from a big family of five brothers and six sisters, and the villagers would call the many kids ‘Gerasimakia’. There was a 28-year difference between the eldest and youngest of the ‘Gerasimakia’ children. By the time Emanuel was born some of his brothers had already left for Australia, which meant he had not yet met them. He made it his goal to travel to Australia and become acquainted with his siblings.
Emanuel was a very smart child. He was dux at his school and was offered a future there in Kythera. The high school teacher even came to his house and told his father that he wanted him to continue his studies, offering him all the books for free as an incentive. When his father asked him, he told him that he wanted to migrate to Australia as he had his heart set on joining his brothers in Australia whom he had not yet met.
At the age of 17, Emanuel travelled to Australia on the ‘Orama’ on a 28-day voyage via the Suez Canal and Cocos Islands, eventually reaching Sydney where he had an entourage of people waiting for him, including brothers that he was able to meet for the first time. From here he went to Temora, where the close bond he was able to forge between himself and his brothers was a key factor in their success in Australia. Emanuel once recounted, “We were a very close family, keeping in mind we had 5 brothers living here together, and
in all our lives we never had one single fight”.
When he was 23 he was drafted into the army. He worked for 3 years in an ammunition depot, to load up the trains that went to New Guinea. Though Emanuel didn't like the idea of conscription it turned out to be a good thing as he made many lifelong friends, including many Kytherians and other Greeks. Over the years, he would regularly meet up with 30-40 ex-army buddies every Wednesday at the Hellenic House. Their numbers slowly dwindled until there were only 2 left. Two days before his passing, Emanuel made his regular Wednesday visit to Hellenic House, and this would be his last.
Emanuel was very proud of the business ventures he started with his brothers in Temora (White Horse Café), Young (Monterey Café), Ariah Park, the Chatswood Oasis Milk Bar with friend Peter Coroneos, and then later Crows Nest (Peter Pan Cake Shop). His last venture was the Elite Shoe Salon in Kingsgrove with his wife Matina, which he ran for over 35 years until his retirement in the mid 1980’s.
Emanuel was equally proud of his involvement with the Kytherian Brotherhood, serving as President during a financially tumultuous time. Under his leadership and with a strong team behind him, the fortunes of the Kytherian Brotherhood were turned around, and Kythera House was saved. The Kytherian Brotherhood remained an integral part of his and his family’s life.
Emanuel loved his garden, especially his fig trees. He and Matina would spend many hours administering tender loving care to their numerous flowers, fruit and vegetables. No visitor to his home would leave without some kind of offering from his garden. He would also regularly visit friends and relatives laden with all kinds of goodies.
The story of Emanuel is not complete without mention of his passion for both fishing and playing cards. He enjoyed many memorable fishing trips to the Great Barrier Reef with his friends, and also enjoyed fishing with Matina near his holiday home at Ettalong.
He was a master Prefa and Poker player, with a razor sharp mind right until his last game at Hellenic House a couple of days before his passing. He also enjoyed the game of Tavli.
Rotary was also an important part of Emanuel’s life, and it helped define the philosophies by which he chose to live by. He believed in the saying that “the worth of a man’s life is measured not by the money or property he leaves behind, but rather by the family he leaves behind”.
Emanuel met fellow Kytherian Matina Samios and they were married in 1953, celebrating their 60th Wedding anniversary in 2013. They had 3 children, Anna in 1954, Gerald in 1955 and Stephen in 1958, and later welcomed son in law John Psaltis, and daughters in law Marianne Comino and Virginia Spinoulas to the family with open arms. Seven grandchildren followed, Michael, Matthew, and Christopher Psaltis, Matthew and Jason Casimatis, and Evan and Marissa Casimatis. He was lucky enough to attend the wedding of two grandsons, welcoming their new wives Jennifer and Elise to the family. He was also looking forward to becoming a great grandfather for the first time later this year.
On Christmas Day 2014, sitting at the table surrounded by all of his loving children and grandchildren, Emanuel remarked to his wife Matina, “we started off as just the two of us, and now look at what we have”.
Emanuel will be dearly missed by all.
RETURNED SERVICE LEAGUE (RSL) SERVICE
“Their bodies are buried in peace and their name liveth for evermore”
“The members of the Kingsgrove RSL Sub-Branch and Club offer their sincere condolences to the Casimatis family and their friends on their very sad loss of Emanuel.
Emanuel Casimatis travelled from the small town of Ariah Park which is in the Riverina region near Temora to Paddington in Sydney to enlist in the Citizen Military Force (CMF) for full time duty on the 12th May 1942 at the age of (23) twenty three, obviously he wanted to help his newly adopted country as it was under threat of a Japanese invasion. I was told by Emanuel’s son Steve that two of Emanuel’s brothers Jack and Andrew also enlisted in the Australian Army; Andrew served in the same unit as Emanuel 2 Employment Company.
Emanuel was posted to 2 Australian Labour Company, unfortunately we do not know where this Company was based however official records show they camped at places like Tocumwal and Albury on the New South Wales border as at that time we had different rail gauges so the men worked on the trains loading and unloading military supplies, including foodstuffs and armaments. Emanuel probably would have also found himself working at factories packing and transporting goods, or he could have worked on the wharves loading military equipment which was required at the front line for the Australian troops fighting the Japanese
It was ‘hard yakka’ as they say in Australian terms and though the work lacked the glamour of the front line however its importance to the conduct of the war was very much understood by Emanuel and his mates in the Unit. They knew they were part of the whole nation doing its bit; they were doing their part in the army towards protecting the country and winning the war.
On the 5th October 1942 Emanuel was transferred to 2 Australian Employment Company where he and his mates would have continued in much the same role moving important military supplies. On the 1st March 1943 Emanuel was posted to 6 Australian Advanced Ammunition Depot (AAD) at Lithgow this was a part of the Royal Australian Ordnance Corp (RAOC). This particular Ammunition Depot was of such high strategic importance that besides the many anti aircraft batteries including a few dummy ones there was actually a number of dummy town buildings built to protect the Depot from possible bombing. Once again Emanuel and his mates undertook vital work in the munitions supply chain; it cannot be overstated as to the importance of this Depot to the Australian war effort.
On the 22nd November 1943 Emanuel left Lithgow and having probably spent a very cold and wet winter in Lithgow he would have been very happy to leave, Emanuel was posted back to 2 Employment Company where once again he and his mates undertook the essential laboring tasks , the hard physical labour needed to maintain the war effort and support the Australian military units in their quest to defeat the enemy.
It must be said that Emanuel and the rest of those 15,000 men from, Greece, Italy, and Austria to name a few countries who served with the Australian Army’s (39) thirty nine Labour and Employment Units were very diverse in Nationality and backgrounds, they lived together in tents and huts in crowded proximity and still managed to build up a great camaraderie however it must be said that they were the Forgotten Soldiers of the war as far as the history books are concerned.
Finally after (3) three years of dedicated service to his country on the 16th April 1945 Emanuel was discharged from the Army and he could return to his family and become a civilian and get on with building his successful life in Australia .
Emanuel was indeed a man who selflessly served Australia in its time of great need; Emanuel was awarded the War Medal 1939 – 45, Australian Service Medal 1939 – 45 and the General Service Badge.
“O valiant hearts who to your glory came through dust of conflict and through battle flame, tranquil you lie. Your knightly virtue proved, your memory hallowed in the land you loved”
“The hour has come for rest. This red poppy the traditional emblem of war sacrifice, the symbol of life offered in the service of one’s country and Rosemary for Remembrance links us to our late comrade Emanuel and us who remain. “We place them here in remembrance”
Those persons who wish to lay a Poppy please come forward.
Would you please stand for a few moments silence in memory of Emanuel, this will be followed by the playing of the Last Post; I will then recite the Ode followed by Reveille
“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Reveille
“Lest we forget”
Alan R. Barnes
President Kingsgrove RSL Sub Branch
22nd January 2015
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