Wind Across the Nile

Over the last two years I’ve been working hard on a book called Wind Across the Nile that will be released at the end of this year. I’m a year behind schedule and this has left me frustrated and made me put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel as though I’ve let my readers down, and even though I know they are still there patiently waiting, and will support me as soon as the book comes out, I wanted to take this opportunity to apologise and thank them for sticking with me. Sadly things haven’t gone as planned, life got in the way, including me being very unwell for a few months.

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View across the Nile in Luxor, Egypt

Now, things are back to normal (or as normal as life can get!), and I’m getting back on track and I can’t wait to release Wind Across the Nile at the end of this year. The love that I’ve always had for this book is still very much there and I’m so happy with the story, and just can’t wait to release it now. The editing is done, and all that needs to happen now is the proofreading and formatting, and we’re good to go.

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Sailing on a felucca on the Nile

I love the plot of this book, and have really enjoyed working on it, and using the knowledge gained from my Egyptology courses to craft it. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story will immerse the reader in Egypt, introducing them to the Egypt’s history, archaeology and other amazing sites it offers. There will be new characters to meet and learn about, and the story will take the reader on an exciting journey that spans over 100 years.

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Sunset view across Cairo, Egypt

I can’t wait to release Wind Across the Nile now, I’m so excited about getting it out to readers so they can hopefully enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Even more so, I can’t wait to be able to get on with the next book, so that I can get back on track. Thank you for sticking with me!

  • Have you been to Egypt? If so what are you most looking forward to about this book?

Wind Across the Nile

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Wind Across the Nile – Book Description

When Cora Thomas learns her parents and younger brother have died in tragic circumstances, her life crumbles.  As she struggles to come to terms with what has happened, she uncovers an old leather bound book in her parent’s attic. Unable to decipher it, she goes to Egypt in search of help from eminent Egyptologist, Professor Nick Foster.

Cora is captivated by Egypt, a country rich with culture, history and heritage.  Eventually finding the help she needs, Cora allows her painful grief to subside, but her happiness is short-lived.  As Cora uncovers the truth of her family history, she finds herself fighting for her very existence at the hands of people she thought were friends.

From the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, to the ruinous sands of the Egyptian desert, Wind across the Nile is a story of unbreakable bonds, family secrets and self-protection.

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history, and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Tiverton Museum, Devon

Last week I decided to have a few hours out, so I visited a Museum in the town close to where I live, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

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Situated in the town of Tiverton in Mid Devon, is the Tiverton Museum. The Museum is a place to learn all about the life and local history of Tiverton and the surrounding area. It’s much bigger than I expected and I spent a good few hours wandering through the halls that are filled with lots of interesting exhibits.

Devon Agricultural life

There’s a large number of displays dedicated to agriculture and farming life in Devon, from cider presses, to farming implements. The displays give the visitor an incredible overview of life in the industry before mechanisation. Visitors can learn about sowing crops, ploughing and even milling. Some of the farming artefacts date back to the 1800’s and some of the cider press items are even older.

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Doomsday Book and Archaeology

My favourite part of the museum was the Britton Gallery, which houses some archaeological displays (and you know how much I love archaeology!). It includes information about archaeological ages, some hand axes reputed to be around 400,000 years old, and there is also information about the Bolham Roman Fort, The bit I liked the most was reading about the Doomsday Book. A number of villages surrounding Tiverton are mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and it was fascinating to read more, especially as the village I live in, is one of the places mentioned! It seems that the area of Tiverton is very steeped in history if you look hard enough.

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Heathcoat Gallery

Anyone who knows Tiverton well will know all about the Heathcoat family and their factory. Part of the museum is set aside to inform visitors about the Heathcoats and it highlight’s the history of the family, and the work undertaken at the factory, including some of the machinery that would have been used in the past. There’s also a board telling visitors about the use of lace made at the factory; including lace that went on to make Princess Diana’s wedding veil.

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Through the Ages

There are a number of galleries that show Tiverton and surrounding areas through the ages. These include Kitchen and Laundry, Cottage Parlour, and the Upper and Lower Amory Galleries. There are so many great things to see in these galleries, including a prison door, local trade artefacts and Civic Life. My favourite was the WW1 and WW2 section. It included a number of war items including rations books, warden/fire guard and home guard insignias, and even an Anderson shelter (complete with an operational air-raid siren!).

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The Courtyard

Outside in the Courtyard there are more pieces of agricultural equipment. In a side gallery there’s a fantastic Silverton Fire Engine thought to date from around 1837. A second gallery contains an extensive display of farm wagons that belonged to a local farming family from Netherexe Barton. It’s wonderful that this local heritage has been preserved for people to see and learn from.

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The Tivvy Bumper

The final gallery is home to the Tivvy Bumper, a sparkling green and black locomotive that used to operate on local railway lines. The Tivvy Bumper is surrounded by and extensive collection of railway items, such as signals, and railway signs. There is also a board that tells the history of the railways and various railway stations in the Tiverton area. Information on various road transport and of course the Grand Western Canal is also present in the gallery.

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As well as all of the exhibits mentioned above the museum also has a Tourist Information Service and a great shop full of books, postcards, keyrings, magnets and some lovely Tiverton themed gifts. The staff were so friendly and welcoming and I really enjoyed my visit to Tiverton Museum. It’s an interesting and inspiring place that provides so much information about the history of Tiverton and surrounding areas, and I shall definitely go back to visit it again soon.

For more Information about Tiverton Museum, including opening times and where to find them, go to their website.

  • Have you been to visit Tiverton Museum? If so what was your favourite artefact or gallery?

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history, and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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A challenge from an author friend

I have been challenged by a fellow author to share ten interesting things about me that my readers may not know about me.  To be honest it’s quite hard coming up with five things, let alone ten and I don’t think of myself as that interesting, but I’m going to give it a go anyway.  So, here is list of what I hope is five interesting things for you.  If I can think of any more to boost the list to ten then I’ll update it in the future, but five will have to do for now!

So here we go…

Colourful: I love absolutely colour, the brighter the better.  My wardrobe is full of it.  I normally end up walking around looking like a rainbow has thrown up on me.  The most quirky part of my colour fascination is that I tend to wear mismatched socks and shoes.  My favourite shoes are my purple/red converse with the red/green laces.  I also have a habit of painting my nails different colours, at the moment they are red, green, orange, purple and yellow.

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Snakes and spiders: Most people I know have phobias that centre around snakes and spiders.  I can understand why, but personally I don’t mind them.  I have held a number of different snakes in the past and I do find them absolutely fascinating.  The last time I got up close and personal with one (other than seeing the grass snakes that live in my garden), was when I was in Florida.  I had been out on a catamaran snorkelling and on the way back I was given the opportunity to hold a beautiful brown python.  As for spiders, my house is full of them, and I refuse to kill them, so I normally end up rescuing them before I get into the shower so that they don’t end up going down the plughole.

Not what to do when drunk

Circus: Whilst studying my Acting and Stage Management diploma in the 1990’s (Ha! number six snuck in!) our drama building had to undergo urgent building work/repairs, so we ended up in a rented space at Bristol Circus School.  A few months later, many of us had learned to juggle and tightrope walk, as well as trying out uni-cycling and trapeze.  It was a lot of fun, if hard work, and telling people that “I went to circus school” is a fun talking point, even if it was only for a short period of time because we just happened to be onsite.  I still have my juggling balls, although I don’t use them as often as I used to.

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Tomboy: I’m a bit of a tomboy.  Actually, I’m a huge Tomboy.  I live in jeans and trainers (or boots in the winter), and you can often find me doing something random like climbing a tree just for the fun of it.  The one thing I absolutely hate is having to wear a dress or a skirt.  I literally have to be forced into them, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have worn either in the last ten years!  So, enjoy the below photo, it’s not something you’ll see often!

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And to balance it out – me up a tree.

There, that’s better!

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History: I’m a massive history and archaeology geek.  If there is a Castle, Museum or Historic building within a twenty mile radius I will find it.  It’s like I have a historical homing beacon.  I love nothing better than exploring and discovering more about the history of where I live, or where I am visiting.  A perfect holiday for me is one where I can be let loose to walk around tumbledown ruins for the day so that I can learn more.  I also read and collect history and archaeology books (I have over two hundred currently), and I have completed two Egyptology courses and an Archaeology course, with Exeter University.

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So, there you are, five things about me you may not have known, as challenged by my lovely author friend, who shall remain nameless! I hope you find them interesting.

  • Do you have any interesting quirks or facts that you would ever be willing to share if asked in a similar type of challenge?

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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The loss that keeps me writing

I’m lucky to have so much support as a writer. My readers are amazing and I appreciate every single one of them. My family and friends are wonderful too and always have my back, they understand how much I love writing, and I’m so grateful for their support. One regret I do have, is that the one person I wish could see and support me in all I do, is now no longer here.

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My Aunt Gerry was an incredible woman. She had a heart of gold, was funny and worked as a model. I was in complete awe of her as a child.

Gerry taught me to cook pasta with tomato sauce (and helped me cover up stains on a plush white carpet, after I spilt it, so that her boyfriend Pete didn’t see them). She snuck me into the cinema to watch films that weren’t of my age limit, meaning that she and Pete would have to sit with their hands over my ears or eyes dependant on what was happening on screen. She even bought me tortoise for my birthday once!

She was so much fun, and I loved spending time with her, she was glamorous and lead an incredible life.

But then suddenly one day, she was gone.

I was only eleven years old when Gerry died. She was only twenty-seven years old. The loss was a huge shock, and quite honestly I didn’t believe she was actually gone. Being so young I was unable to go to the funeral, so for many years I didn’t really understand what had happened. I thought she’d just gone away on one of her trips and hadn’t been able to contact us. The loss of my Aunt was the most traumatic event of my life and it affected me deeply. It took decades for me to finally come to terms with what had happened, but even today, it’s a loss that’s still hard to bear, and one that I’ll never quite get over.

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I wish Gerry was still here. I miss her greatly.

I wish she was here so that I could show her what I’ve achieved, to show her that I did believe in myself, and to show her that I’ve stayed true to myself and done what I wanted to do; write my stories. But sadly, Gerry isn’t here, she’s a mere memory, and I’ll never be able to make her proud, or show her how hard I worked to make it happen. For me, this is the hardest thing about writing. To know that I can’t ever share my joy, hard work and success with her, and I wish I could.  I know she would have loved every minute of my writing journey, and would have been so very proud of me and all that I’ve achieved.

I’m also grateful that I do have wonderful memories of my time with Gerry, and I treasure them. Despite her no longer being here with us, I’d like to think that she’s somehow looking down on me from wherever she may now be, giving me a big thumbs up, and pushing me to carry on, and because of that I keep writing and will always continue to do so.

the model!
Geraldine Betts – 1957 to 1985

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Trip to Oregon and Canada – Part Two

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After exploring the city of Portland, Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach in Oregon, we set off over the Columbia River heading north into Washington State. Driving up through Washington we passed Mount Hood and Mount Rainer and drove around the outskirts of Seattle eventually arriving at the  US/Canadian Border. After crossing the border into British Columbia it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in Vancouver.

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Vancouver

Vancouver is a great city, with amazing vibe, it’s still on my list of favourite places visited. There are so many things to see and do.

Vancouver Canada

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We stayed in the centre of Vancouver, and visited all the usual places such as Gastown, Stanley Park and the harbour. Stanley Park is a large park northwest of Downtown Vancouver. It features beautiful gardens, trails to explore and even beaches. We headed to one of the popular places in the park called Brockton Point. At Brockton Point an amazing display of Totem Poles stand proud highlighting the incredible history of British Columbia’s past. The display of Totem’s at Brockton Point began in the 1920’s with just four, the four originals came from Vancouver Island. The display has since grown and it’s thought that some of them were carved as early as the 1880’s.

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We also made a few trips out of the city, which included Grouse Mountain. The mountain is situated about fifteen minutes drive from Dowtown Vancouver. It’s around 2,000ft high and is popular for winter sports activities, but we visited in summer, so it was mainly tourists and hikers taking advantage of the area. To get to the top of the mountain we climbed into a cable car and set off travelling vertically up the side of the mountain, suspended only by cables. The views of the surrounding area from the top of the mountain were incredible. The view went on for miles; a beautiful wilderness of trees and rocks, with a few signs warning of bears, not that we needed to worry, as thankfully the bears stayed away.

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Only ten minutes from Downtown Vancouver we stopped off at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. It spans the Capilano River at a length of 450ft (137 metres) and at a height of 230ft (70 metres) over the river gorge. It was originally built in 1889, by George Grant MacKay as a way of accessing both pieces of land he had purchased on either side of the Capilano River. In 1983 the bridge was purchased and turned into a visitor attraction. We braved the rickety heights of the wooden bridge and marvelled at the views up and down the river, before crossing safely to the other side. The great thing was that we got to walk across it twice as you have to come back over it to get back to the car park!

Victoria, Vancouver Island

We had a great time in Vancouver and I was sad to leave, but our road trip wasn’t over. We boarded a boat and travelled the short distance across the sea to Vancouver Island, where we stayed in Victoria. Our hotel was on the edge of the Inner Harbour, and was a great place to view Downtown Victoria and watch seaplanes land and boats go about their daily business.

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Downtown Victoria is a lovely to explore, as well as lots of shops and restaurants, there are plenty of places to visit and explore. The British Columbia Parliament Buildings sit proudly in the Inner Harbour overlooking the water. It’s open to visitors and we took a tour. Despite being a parliamentary democracy, a constitutional democracy still exists in British Columbia with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth still acting as Queen, and her image is everywhere (even on the money!). I was surprised at how much like our own Houses of Parliament it was inside, except on a much smaller scale. It’s a splendid building from the outside and full of history inside, and definitely worth a visit.

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About an hours drive from Victoria are the Butchart Gardens. In 1909 Jennie Butchart, wife of the then quarry owner Robert Pim Butchart, decided to fill in one of his quarries with top soil and plant a garden. This was the start of the now Butchart Gardens. The garden is still sunken, but looking at it, you would never know that it had been a quarry. The gardens are now so well kept and popular to visit, that they have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. I was surprised at how big the site was, and it was wonderful to see that the gardens have grown so much, and are so popular. I’m not a huge fan of gardens but Butchart Gardens it’s a place with an interesting history and some of the flowers and plants inside were just beautiful.

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Barely ten minutes drive from our hotel was Craigdarroch Castle. Built in the late 1800’s, the castle was a huge display of industrialist wealth and quite imposing. It reminded me of the sort of house you’d see in a scary film. Inside however, it was lovely and full of history, artefacts and information. It’s not a castle in the typical sense, more of an extravagant English style Country House. I enjoyed visiting it though, as its history is varied and interesting and somewhere that should be on the must visit list if you’re in the area.

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The place I loved visiting the most in Victoria was the Royal British Columbia Museum. The history of British Columbia is varied and the museum was a great insight into the many changes that have taken place in British Columbia and I learnt more about the history and life of Native Canadians. One of my favourite exhibits was Thunderbird Park, a depiction of conserved Totems that were first erected on the site next to the museum in the 1940’s. I love museums and I really hope I get to go back to this one again one day.

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We explored so much in Victoria and its surrounding areas, so much so that the above is only a small part of what we did. Sadly though the time came for us to leave the island behind and head back to the US mainland. My time in British Columbia was only short but I remember it fondly and I hope to one day go back. I learned so much about the history, especially the history of Native Canadians, and I would love to be able to re-visit, explore, and learn more one day. The people in Vancouver and Victoria were lovely, and there was so much to see and do and history is remembered, and displayed, everywhere you go. British Columbia is a wonderful place and I never hesitate to recommend it to visitors.

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Our next stop on the trip was to be Seattle, so we left Vancouver Island, passing through the San Juan Islands eventually arriving in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island in Washington State.

Join me next time as next time as the trip continues with a visit to Seattle, and another road trip to Southern Oregon to visit Crater Lake.

If you missed Part One – you can read it here.

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Trip to Oregon and Canada – Part One

Situated in the northwest of the USA is the state of Oregon. It’s beautiful place, and I was lucky to visit if for just over a month in 1995. Nestling between the states of California/Nevada and Washington, Oregon is full of history and is a great tourist destination. Oregon was thought to have been discovered in 1500’s and 1600’s, but it wasn’t until 1778 that the coastline was charted and further explored by Captain James Cook when he was looking for the Northwest Passage. The Lewis and Clark expedition arrived in the area in 1805, and this was the start of the area being truly explored. Great Britain’s claim on the region were finally over in 1846 when a dispute between American Settlers and the Hudson Bay Company were finally resolved with the Oregon Treaty.

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Portland

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, it was founded in 1845, forty years after Lewis and Clark camped there on their original expedition. Nowadays Portland is a bustling city full of things to do, from shopping, to museums, parks and gardens, it a vibrant and exciting city. I visited some great places including, the Portland Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden and Downtown Portland.

The city is full of fantastic restaurants, and there is lots going on especially if you like Museums, Music and Performing Arts. There are loads of great places to visit in the city that highlight incredible art, Portland’s native history and its pioneer origins. Portland is literally brimming with culture.

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Spending time in Portland exploring the city with my family, was a lot of fun. My cousins showed me around, taught me how to drive their pick-up truck and introduced me to eating octopus for the first time. The people of Portland are very friendly and I met loads of nice people. We also headed out of the city to outlying areas that included the Columbia River, which has great views across into Washington State.

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From there we went to the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area which features the spectacular Multnomah Falls amongst others. Multnomah falls are approx. 620 feet high making them the tallest waterfall in Oregon. A bridge called the Benson Bridge spans the lower part of the falls allowing visitors to get up close the dramatic site. It’s a wonderful place to visit and you have to see it to truly appreciate how amazing it is.

We also drove across the Columbia River, the natural state boundary between Portland, Oregon and Washington State, to Mount Hood, a dormant volcano that’s part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. In the winter the mountain is a haven for skiers and snowboarders. We visited in summer, so there was no snow, but there was still plenty to see and do on the mountain, with trails to walk and spectacular views all around.

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On the west coast of Oregon is the town of Astoria. It meets the Pacific Ocean at the end of the Columbia River. In Astoria we climbed the Astoria Monument. From the top of the monument there are incredible views of the Columbia River, Young’s Bay and even the Pacific Ocean albeit in the distance. The monument was built in 1926 the outside of the monument has a decorative frieze that depicts fourteen significant events in Oregons early history. The Astoria Monument is also one of a number of monuments but by the Great Northern Railway across the USA.

A short drive down the west coast from Astoria we stopped off at Seaside (yes, it’s actually the name of the town!) Seaside is great little town, and the beach was a lovely place to sit and watch the sun set. The west coast is absolutely stunning, and barely ten miles from Seaside is Cannon Beach a breath-taking expanse of coastline that’s full of dramatic waves and sweeping beaches.

sunset at seaside

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Portland and the West Coast of the USA are fantastic places to visit and the above was just a small part of my amazing trip. Next time join me for Part Two; a road trip from Portland Oregon up to British Columbia, where me and my family explored Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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ZAKYNTHOS UNDER WORLD WAR TWO OCCUPATION

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76 years ago today on the 30 April 1941, a Cant-Z-506B seaplane was spotted in Kefalonia’s harbour by Greek residents. The plane was piloted by Italians and its arrival was the start of the Italian invasion of Kefalonia during World War Two. The plane was one of five seaplanes that had taken off from Brindisi, and they were followed by three transport aircraft that contained sixty Italian parachutists.
On the 01 May 1941, two Cant-Z-506B seaplanes landed at Zakynthos. More Italian troops swiftly followed, landing on the island by boat, formally occupying the island. It was a day that islanders had dreaded. Zakynthos and its residents had no choice but to “fall” to the Italian soldiers becoming part of the ever-growing list of occupied territories overseen by the Axis powers. The island of Zakynthos and her neighbouring Ionian islands remained prisoners of the Italians, until fascism fell in 1943. Hopes were high of the war ending in 1943 but things didn’t get better for Greece. They were quickly invaded by the Germans and much of the country, including Zakynthos, found itself under German occupation by September 1943. The war continued to rage on and Zakynthos wasn’t liberated from its captors until 12 September 1944.
During World War Two occupation Italian soldiers based themselves in Zakynthos Town. They brought in numerous laws that included no cigarettes or tabacco to be brought to Zakynthos without permission, they forbid sale of wheat, no islander was allowed to keep weapons and it was illegal for Zakynthians to write cheques. Italian soldiers regularly searched homes and any weapons, food, oil, or wheat discovered by the soldiers were immediately confiscated. The Italian Army received daily supplies of food and other items, but they were for army use only and not for Zakynthians.
The German Headquarters were located in Kipi, but they also had bases throughout the island, if the Germans chose to base themselves in a property already owned by a Zakynthian family, the family were forced to hand the house and its belongings over to the enemy. The only place on the island free from Germans and Italians was the mountains, which was a Resistance stronghold.
If islanders had thought the Italians were bad, life under the Germans were much worse. They stole from locals, disallowed them to cultivate their own food, were inhumane in their general behavior, rounded up locals and killed them for no reason, and regularly abused women. Zakynthians did their best to resist their captors and The Resistance movement was a strong one, made up of both men and women. Based in the mountains The Resistance fought against the Italians and Germans whenever possible, but it wasn’t easy, and many paid for their bravery with their lives if they were caught. The Resistance received news of the war by using hidden radios and connections with newspapers in Athens, which allowed them to plan movements against their captors. Life on Zakynthos during the war was incredibly hard. Food was sparse, the Germans ruthless and many islanders had to sell belongings, including furniture and jewellery just to survive. Many went hungry, and life was lived on a continual knife-edge of hunger, desperation and fear. Zakynthians were monitored wherever they went, there was no work as companies were forced to close, and many islanders ended up begging for food or buying it on the black market just to survive.
There are many stories of Island bravery. Men and women who did their best to protect their own, who tried to stop the Germans from looting, stealing and abusing residents, who fought hard against their oppression whenever they could. Some were successful, others were not.
The bravest story of Zakynthos during World War Two is the story of Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer. On 09 September 1943, Commandant Berrenz, the German Commandant of Zakynthos at the time, demanded a list of all Jewish island residents from Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer. The Mayor and Bishop presented Commandant Berrenz with a list of just two names; their own. They refused to give up the Jewish population and went as far as protecting and hiding all 275 Jewish island residents, with help from The Resistance. The bravery of the Mayor and Bishop saved many lives and ultimately saw them become heroes of the war.
A lasting memorial to them now stands in Zante Town.
Nowadays there isn’t much evidence of the war on Zakynthos, but if you know where to look there are still a few small signs. The main Zakynthos airport is situated on the site of the original airfield constructed by the Italians. It was built not long after they arrived so that troops, weapons and ammunition could be flown to the island rather than bringing them by boat. In the north at Exo Hora there is an old Venetian watchtower that was used by the Italians as a base. A smaller watchtower, also used as a lookout, is situated on the east coast at Kipseli. A few World War Two ruins, such as a stone gun placement still exist on the south east of the island but the German pillbox on the cliffs at Kalamaki has now fallen into the sea. Remains of German fortification are also rumoured to be found at the north of the island. At Kampi there is also a large cross dedicated to those who lost their lies during both World War Two and the Civil War that followed. Ask any local though, and they can give you information about specific places on the island that have stories of the war associated with them.
Much of what happened on Zakynthos during World War Two now lives in the minds, hearts and accounts of those who lived through it, and sadly they are becoming fewer as time passes. We should never forget that the island is what it is today because of the bravery of those who fought hard for their families, their island and ultimately, their freedom.