submitted by George Poulos on 11.10.2004
[Tony is a Real Estate agent in Liverpool, Sydney, Australia. In the past decade he has travelled to Kythera every Kytherian summer. Town of origin: Ayia Pelagia. Parachoukli Alai].
In 1942, He remembers as a young child of 9 years of age, watching a ship come towards the shoreline at Ayia Pelegia. "I was watching...because I had nothing else to do." This ship was being guarded by a small aeroplane.....I remember it so clearly.....it would curl up towards Panagia Thespina, then back again...and then it came very low towards the beach....then the plane came in very, very low....too low...and, two men jumped out.....I saw them swimming. The plane came down , and skidded towards the beach - and it came to a stop on the beach - in the sand.
"I saw the people continuing to swim to shore."
We went down later....and looked around the plane....it was just a little plane.
[Theo actually witnessed the jettisoning of the plane into Ayia Pelagia Beach. The exact spot was at Neo Kosmo beach - which is between where the church of Ayia Pelagia is now, and Firi Ammos Beach. The land where the bomb beached was owned by the Fardoulys family (not Theo's family - but Kaloyrithi was their parachoukli.]
"I was told that a few days later they took the plane away by winching it onto a ship.
The next time I went past I saw the bomb there. Apparently it had been dislodged from the plane during the winching process, and had not been taken away. As kids were used to jump and play on it. I used to play on it with by younger brother John and other children from Ayia Pelagia. It was just a hunk of iron to us. Less than a metre long.
The bomb remained there for the best part of the summer ....for many months. We used to go a lot there...and noone was taking any notice of it.
Towards the end of the summer, whilst my parents and uncles were harvesting beans...they were seperating them out and using the iloni to crush the beans....it was then that I heard the explosion....I looked and I saw debris and smoke mushrooming up from the place where the church was. [Not in the same location as the current church in Ayia Pelagia.] I rushed to tell my uncle and father who were working behind the buildings...It was a very loud explosion.
Only the floor of the church was left. It was black and white and all burned.
We all went down there...quite a few people had gathered by then.....and I saw two men dead. One was lying on his back inside the church....he had no clothes on....he was very burnt.....I remember it so clearly.
I had never seen a dead person before. The other man was lying by the seaside, where the litle waves were hitting his body.
Sophios was one of the few people with a camera on the island at the time. I have never seen a photo of the devastation......
...The nose piece of the bomb, which was extremely hard, remained there for many years....
I left Kythera in 1949. There was still no church in Ayia Pelegia...it hadn't been re-built.
When I went back in 1974, a small iconostasi like structure had been erected where the old church stood. People light candles there.
The new chuch at Ayia Pelagia was built by 1974, but I am not sure exactly when it was built."
[This account explains how the bomb got onto the beach at Neo Kosmos in the first place.
It establishes the exact location of the bomb.
And, is the first eye witness account of the actual bomb detonating that I have encountered.]
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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