Greek Day 1941

Julie Christofis selling buttons to a sailor Brisbane 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 101795.

Julie Christofis selling buttons to a sailor Brisbane 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 101795.

With the events of May 1941 still to befall Crete, on Wednesday 19 March 1941 Brisbane’s Greek community came together for ‘Greek Day’ – a day long fundraising event that raised funds for the Greek Relief appeal.  The highlight of the day was a parade through the streets of Brisbane.  Led by 40 Evzones (men who had enlisted in the Greek army), the Greek Day parade was an opportunity for Brisbane’s Greek community to support their homeland’s struggles during the Second World War.

It was reported that over 90,000 people lined the inner city streets to cheer on the Greek community, 940 enlisted servicemen and women (who were stationed at Redbank at the time and trained in for the event), and veterans of the First World War and Boer War.

The event was filmed by Xenophon Castrissios, aerial photographer with Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.  A copy of this remarkable colour film has been digitised and made available through the One Search catalogue.  As well as the parade and the supporting businesses, the footage also captures some of Brisbane’s local Greek community relaxing at a picnic.

Greek Day 1941 metal pin. Rec Greek Day 1941 metal pin. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Rec 21148433490002061

Greek Day 1941 metal pin. Rec Greek Day 1941 metal pin. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Rec 21148433490002061

To help raise the funds for the appeal, buttons, badges and stickers were sold by street vendors and by members of the community.  State Library is fortunate to have two of these buttons in the collection, one of them donated by Julie Nichols (nee Christofis), the little girl in the photograph above.

Retailers across Brisbane participated in the event by setting up street stalls outside of their businesses to sell their own merchandise as well as the buttons and badges.  Staff enthusiastically took the opportunity to dress up in Greek national dress to show their support for the appeal. Similar events were held in Townsville and other regional centres.

Greek Day 1941 was a resounding success as it easily reached its goal of raising over 20,000 pounds for the appeal.

Chrissi Theodosiou. Coordinator Research. State Library of Queensland