Thursday 23rd April 2015

On Thursday 23rd April around 120 people gathered at the graveside of the English poet Rupert Brooke on the remote Greek island of Skyros. Brooke, who died of septicaemia on his way to fight at Gallipoli, had refused a safe staff job to be with his men. Many of those who buried him died shortly afterwards in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, and of the five officers who had remained at the end of the funeral to build a cairn over his grave, only two survived the war.

The grave itself is located in the uninhabited south of the island, in an olive grove where Brooke rested during exercises shortly before his death. Brooke had remarked on “the strange peace and beauty of this valley”. At this time of year it is still green and scattered with Spring flowers and herbs: camomile, dill and wild sage.

The commemoration was attended by the British Ambassador to Greece, Regional Governors, the Mayor of Skyros, a representative of the Rupert Brooke Society, and many residents of Skyros. It was led by the head of the Anglican Church in Greece, Reverend Canon Malcolm Bradshaw. A guard of honour was provided by the Greek Navy, and The Last Post was played by a bugler from the Greek Airforce. Perhaps the most moving moment was the two minutes’ silence, with only the faint sound of birdsong and distant goat bells filling the light breeze.

The commemoration was part of a busy week on the island. St George is patron saint of Skyros as well as England, and 23rd April also marked the re-opening of Skyros’s Monastery of St George after 14 years’ closure following the Skyros Earthquake of 2001. On both St George’s Eve and on the day itself, there were processions of icons from the monastery through the town, with feasting and the distribution of holy wine.

Linked pictures

Please click on any of these pictures for a full size, downloadable copy.

View from above the ceremony


Grave with Navy Guards and Wreaths


Greek Airforce bugler plays
‘The Last Post’

Canon Bradshaw and the bugler preparing for the ceremony


A member of the Greek Airforce
takes photos


All photos
are by Niko Sikkes

Many more can be found on Flickr:
UK in Greece Photostream

There is a video of
‘The Last Post’:
YouTube video by Niko Sikkes

Further information

British Embassy Athens Press Release

Further background on Rupert Brooke’s grave on Skyros

For further information, please email Neil Maybin of the Rupert Brooke Society.