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History > Oral History > The Day they blew the church at Ayia Pelagia to Kingdom Come.

History > Oral History

submitted by George Poulos on 08.10.2004

The Day they blew the church at Ayia Pelagia to Kingdom Come.

In 1942, a bomb appeared on the beach near Firi Ammos. It had failed to detonate. It remained on the beach for many months.

The feast day of Ayia Patrikia, was traditionally celebrated in the small church of Ayia Patrikia - which is situated between Karavas and Ayia Pelagia. [As of early Oct 2004, no photograph of Ayia Patrikia has been posted to the web-site]. In 1942, this ceremony drew its usual very large crowd.

In the meantime, three Karavitithes, Haralambos Coroneos ("'I Horyos"), Nicholas Souris ("Varvarkis"), and Yiannis Mavrogeorgios ("Fatseas"), decided that they would move the bomb from the beach at Firi Ammos into the church at Ayia Pelagia.

Haralambos and Nicholas used a chisel and hammer, to try and gain access to the gunpowder inside the bomb. Yiannis was posted at the front door of the church to act as lookout. All were keen fishermen who used the "trotilli"" - "dynamite" technique for fishing. They were keen to gain a free supply of this "valuable" commodity.

At the time of the liturgy at neighbouring Ayia Patrikia, a massive explosion was heard. The ceremony was disrupted, as church-goers rushed off to find the cause of the explosion.

They arrived at the church to find that it had been "blown to kingdom come". None of the original building remained standing. Haralambos and Nicholas were dead, and Yannis, "the guard", had been blown 20-30 metres out onto the beachside. He was in a state of severe shock. He was taken away, and cared for by Italian soldiers, then in charge of the area.

Haralambos and Nicholas were later buried in the cemetry at Karavas.


This is how my father, Con George (Tzortzo)Poulos ("O Hlihlis") recalls the event. He was 26 at the time.


Questions:

It is quite surprising that this event hasn't been recorded on the kythera-island web-site previously?

What are other Kytherian's memory of this event?

I wonder whether a photograph of the devastating aftermath of this tragedy exists?

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2 Comments

submitted by
Litsa Coroneos
on 13.02.2006

I have just now entered this website for the first time, and I believe 100% this was my Grandfather. My Father lost his Father to this aftermath when he was only 8 years old, which would have been 1942. No pictures are needed to remind my Father that his Father at ony 8 years old, was blown to pieces and carried on a ladder to Karavas for his funeral. I personally have seen the church in Ayia Pelagia that still somewhat stands for its history, and I have visited my Grandfathers home and gravesite in Karavas. I can only tell you, My Father was about to commit suicide when he learned at only 8 years old, his Father had lost his life and saw him being carried limb by limb on this ladder to his final destiantion. I saw this window and I am grateful my father now of 77 years old has been able to become a very successful busineesman in the restaurant business of now more then 45 years of which he created in 1962. www.dimitris.us Please contact me with any questions lwdimitris@aol.com

submitted by
Litsa Coroneos
on 13.02.2006

I have just now entered this website for the first time, and I believe 100% this was my Grandfather. My Father lost his Father to this aftermath when he was only 8 years old, which would have been 1942. No pictures are needed to remind my Father that his Father at ony 8 years old, was blown to pieces and carried on a ladder to Karavas for his funeral. I personally have seen the church in Ayia Pelagia that still somewhat stands for its history, and I have visited my Grandfathers home and gravesite in Karavas. I can only tell you, My Father was about to commit suicide when he learned at only 8 years old, his Father had lost his life and saw him being carried limb by limb on this ladder to his final destiantion. I saw this window and I am grateful my father now of 77 years old has been able to become a very successful busineesman in the restaurant business of now more then 45 years of which he created in 1962. www.dimitris.us Please contact me with any questions lwdimitris@aol.com