The remains of those killed after HMS Devonshires X Turret explosion were laid to rest at Taxiarches cemetery, Volos, Greece. After more than seventy years these poor souls were to be dug up and scattered!
Volos councillors announced in May (2003) that they wanted to move the cemetery so that they could build a park on the site.
Because of limited space in Greece, exhumations are a fairly common practice, and most of the graves in the cemetery are Greek.
Aware in 1929 of the tendency to move graves, the marines built a low wall around their comrades to try to protect them.
But Konstantinos Morfogiannis, a Volos council member charged with cemetery maintenance, said last week that unless the British Government compensated the city for 72 years of cemetery fees – £85,000 – the bodies would be thrown in a ditch.
The fee for the exhumations has since been reduced to £28,000, as discussions continue between the British Embassy and the council about payment.
Talks were soon to take place as to this terrible threat.
In response the Volos Cemetery Councillors sent the following letter to the British Ambassador in Athens:
PREFECTURE OF MAGNESIA
THE VOLOS/NEA IONIA URBAN GROUP CEMETERY ASSOCIATION
Address: 5th km of the Volos-Larissa Road
Inquiries: Tel. 24210-95720, 24210-95721
VOLOS, 25 November 2003
Reg No. 429/2003
The British Ambassador
Sir David Madden KCMG,
As the new Chairman of ths Administrative Board of the Volos/
Nea Ionia Urban Group Cemetery Association, I have much
pleasure in informing you that at it’s meeting on 20 November
2003 the Board has decided:
(a) To stop any action by our side with regard to the claim
for a maintenance fee for the British military graves at the
(b) To consider the matter closed.
(c) To adhere to the arrangements existing before this question
was brought up by the previoss Board, unless ‘your side wishes
to take some other action.
I, personally, in my additional capacity as a physician who
who has served with the British Health System (NHS),
would like to express my particular satisfaction at this development.
which reflects our feelings of respect for the memory of the
officers and crew of HMS DEVONSHIRE.
Christos Stathopoulos MD
(Volos Municiple Council)
These Officers and men of HMS Devonshire will now remain at peace with upkeep of the graves being kept by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.