Saturday, 6 September 2014

Κίνημα του 1935

Maria Roussen ~ Η Μαρία Ρουσσέν ~ by Yiannis Moralis ~ Γιάννης Μόραλης
When my half brother George Pericles Baddeley gave a funeral oration for his mother, my Greek stepmother, Maria Baddeley, née Roussen, at Saint Sophia in Moscow Road in Bayswater in November 2005, he may have repeated a consciously adopted inaccuracy about her father, his grandfather, Admiral Pericles Roussen Ναύαρχος Περικλῆς Ρουσσέν. George said:
...However, this picture of a happy family life was rudely interrupted when Pericles Roussen’s principled monarchist beliefs led to his imprisonment for refusing to jeopardize the Greek fleet. This caused his early death and the circumstances of the family changed dramatically....
As anyone who explores modern Greek history via personal memories and family stories the tendency to make 'map corrections' that brush out certain landmarks in the Greek political landscape is more normal in Greece than I've experienced in England. Comfort, security, the preservation of good manners, revolve around shakier historical constructions than in the United Kingdom - tho' just try to find a single unremaindered primary or even secondary school history book of Great Britain published after the 1960s, and explain in less than a hundred words to one of your overseas students the meaning of the words printed on the front of every British Passport under the words 'European Union' are the words 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Iteland'.

There's a book - or two - there. So George refers, at that solemn moment, in the church, to "Pericles Roussen’s principled monarchist beliefs"
Nine years later, as a result of occasional sifting through the internet on the subject of Admiral Roussen - without result, and asking delicate - so I thought - questions within the Greek side of my family, equally resultless - I come across two small items in two US newspapers. A librarian in New York State has at last got round, perhaps with the help of a grant, to getting old copies of local newspapers, probably notoriously transferred to microfilm, onto the web. I send one of these stories to George. Can this be your grandfather? I'm confused. He replies, via a Facebook message, almost at once:
How interesting! To be honest, this was only what I was told as I couldn't find anything at the time when I googled him. Also, I never really attempted to research him before. I'm delighted to see he was anti-monarchist. Probably this was hushed up by my Yiayia and all eh? x
These were the newspaper items.
New York Herald Statesman ~ 11 May 1935
Rome New York Daily Sentinel ~ 11 May 1935
I replied to my brother:
So glad you see him as a Republican and a Venezelist! As a senior serving officer he must have been faced with a fateful decision. Some story don't you think? He must have understood the possible consequences and the effect on himself and his family...(I added a link referring briefly to the Movement of 1935, in Greek Κίνημα 1ης Μαρτίου 1935)
and I added a reference to Nikolaos Plastiras Νικόλαος Πλαστήρας:
This man was a prime actor - a devoted and honourable republican several times PM of beloved Greece . Your grandfather must surely have known him. There is a fascinating untold story here! 
Absolutely, it would be great if you find out more about him. I'll let you know if we come across anything - Kate is going to look in the Times archives. x
The story of the coup and its context are a core part of modern Greek history the National Schism Εθνικός Διχασμός, etc - but of private interest is the 'silence about this in the family. X S
Maria Baddeley and family 8 June 1986
Half a day later: As ever with research - and I should have known this - further investigation by George's Kate, reveals a clearer picture of what happened to George's naval grandfather. The conclusion I had been jumping towards - assuming partisanship in Admiral Roussen and an error in George's funeral oration for his mother, Roussen's daughter. The 'silence' I insinuated came, more probably, from painful sadness and respect. The 'crime' for Pericles Roussen was disgraced and imprisoned was an act of conscience:
Simon. Kate has researched the Times archive and found an article which comes tantalisingly close to completing the events of the time ... as it says that there was a rebellion and the existing government ordered the Greek fleet to fire upon the rebel boats and that they they would also bomb them if they wouldn't surrender. What I've heard through my family - I'm sure from my mother too - is that my Grandfather refused to fire upon fellow Greeks when ordered to do so. Placing what I and other family know with this bit of information suggests that could well be why he got 10 years imprisonment rather than a death sentence. I surmise that he didn't want to support a command under marshall law to kill his own people. So I think this is not inconsistent with him having been a monarchist. Assuming this is all true, whether or not he was a monarchist, I think that he was certainly a hero! 
George. Fascinating. I am sure that now we will learn more. Thanks so much Kate. Can I have the reference?
My brother George sent me this picture of his grandfather Pericles Roussen and his grandmother Lilly
  • George Baddeley I have no idea about what my Grandad's motives were at the time but all I can say is that the vague memories I have are, firstly that he was clearly very wronged and, secondly, that he acted in a highly principled way. It was also assumed that he was a royalist - but I have no recollection about how this came to be accepted as a family truth. I drafted my speech at my mother's funeral in collaboration with all my sisters so it seems clear that none of us have been wise to this new very interesting revelation that you've uncovered. It's just like "Who Do You Think You Are"!
    7 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Simon Baddeley There is a time for everything. It is good that his family are stewards of the nearest we can get to the truth about this man, husband, father, grandfather, (half-grandfather) and great grandfather. Any chance of a photo? I recall that Maria always had a portrait of her father in uniform near her.
  • George Baddeley Yes - I'll scan you one in the next week.

I wish I could get a sight of Admiral Roussen's Court Martial transcript. George has forwarded the reference found by Kate, who's a librarian...
Title: Greek Revolt.
Pub: The Times. Detail:(London, England), Monday, Mar 04, 1935
Page: 14; Issue 47003. (1407 words)
Gale Document Number: CS235088996
The Times ~ 4th March 1935
Thanks, George. I came too early to the conclusion that your g'f was partisan (in a way that I approved) when actually he acted as a man of conscience, not obeying an order - the most difficult of all things for a professional soldier. He must have known the possible consequences. Had he acted in a partisan way as I first thought, then if the coup succeeded he would have been lauded by the winners 'Treason doth never prosper, for if it prospers, none dare call it treason'. But Admiral Pericles Roussen did not act on the basis of loyalty to Venizelos and the rebels (much as you and I may approve their anti-monarchist cause) or rebellious disobedience to the government, but in obedience to his conscience - the loneliest of all decisions. I honour him. OK to blog?
Yes - it's on the Times archive so this is fine. You can also mention what I've been told over the years by my family, namely: 1. this, my mother told me - and I'm sure it's true - that he refused to accept a command to fire on his fellow Greeks - and I understand that was probably the main - or possibly the only - reason why he was court marshalled and imprisoned and 2. All the family understand that he was a royalist, but clearly not still totally unwilling to obey an unreasonable order. This, alongside his reported defiance of his political masters, would explain why my mother always said that a gross injustice had been committed against him - and it could also explain why he got ten years' imprisonment while the actual organisers of the rebellion got death sentences: if he had been a fellow conspirator I would assume that he would have also received a death sentence. 3. He developed an ulcer while in prison which resulted in his untimely death. 4. I've heard from more than one source that he was highly respected by other navy officers and all the sailors under his command. 5. The lack of detailed information about this whole episode is almost certainly explained by the fact that it was a major family trauma. All things considered, he seems to have been a highly honorable and brave man. G
With some of the 'Greek side" in 1995 ~ Miranda, Kate, George and Linda

*** *** *** ***
Saturday and our last visit to Lydbrook to see and discuss progress on the recovery of Rock Cottage. On the way south we dropped into an industrial estate to pick up a glass shower screen at wholesale prices - a big Chinese owned and managed warehouse. Back to the motorway we saw regular clusters of police motorcyclists, ambulances and police vans travelling north after the NATO Summit in Newport where thousands had been employed to provide security. I carried the shower screen up the narrow path to the cottage, stopping now and then to improve my grip and catch my breath. Rock Cottage's distance from the road has always been one of the things we've liked. We're in the middle of Lydbrook, almost above its thriving shop and the car park of the Social Club in the centre of the village, yet detached, edging into the Forest of Dean, its trees standing on Bell Hill almost overhanging the few other houses around us - all illegal now, since they get no direct sunlight for nearly half the year; sat on the steep slope of the Lydbrook Valley that leads down to the river Wye - the longest village in England. Adam and Jack were already hard at work on the renovation mapped out by Linda with Martin, who joined us with Sandra in the early afternoon.
Martin, Adam, Linda, Sandra in the sitting room
Their focus has been on getting the kitchen and bathroom with their plumbing and fitting and walls improved and in working order. The old iron bath will go back with a shower added. The lads were working on cleaning up and pointing one stone wall having drylined the wall over where the bath will go.
Adam and Jack
The cottage inside and outside is like an injured patient covered in bruises and bandages but on the mend. Everything's a bit of a mess but the sight and sound of the work proceeding with Martin's neat ink drawn plans of the final result fill me with pleasure, the more so for knowing that Lin is happily in charge deciding how she wants things. Seeing the high quality tools in use is good to. If I started again on the small amount of DIY I'd never buy cheap tools...
As used by professionals
...The kitchen's almost in working order. There'll further dry lining around the front wall.
We were worried about water leaking into one of the upstairs rooms, our bedroom. A recommended builder had estimated spending over £6000 re-doing the whole roof. Another - Steve Adams - came up Bell Hill around lunchtime; said the roof looked fine, that there had been a very wet spring causing wet to seep in via the chimneys. On those the lead flashing looked good though and your ridge tiles and the slates on the rest of the roof look fine.
"You need to wire brush that area on your chimney where the paints flaking. Repaint it and perhaps run some silicone round the top of the flashing"
Steve told us the only completely sure way to stop any leak would be to rebuilds the chimneys inserting a lead 'tray', but that that was hardly worth the cost, when regular painting every couple of years, and using the house with the stove working more, should sort the problem.

I wandered round the house with the lopper cutting back the hazel and ash that was already springing up again after the clearance of the garden by Evolution Trees in January. Keeping the encroaching forest at bay will require, has always required, regular pottering about with scythe, sickle and secateurs. It's needed too to allow light to dry the building. I plan a bonfire in November, with lots of wood left over for the wood burning stoves. Meanwhile Lin's been boxing up bits and pieces of chins and glass to go upstairs to allow space for Adam and Jack to work in the sitting room. A previous builder, against Lin's wishes, tried to make the interior of the roof of the cottage extension look 'tudorish' with fake unevenness in the skimming and rough timbers.
"Cover it all!" said Lin to  Martin
"No problem"
Lin and I headed home around 5.00pm. Adam had assured us he'd keep us up to date with work as it proceeded - with pictures attached.
"We could be staying here by next Summer, and the family" I said to Lin. Finger's crossed and our good fortune for having such our friends as these.
Martin and Sandra in the sitting room in July 1991

Martin and Sandra in the sitting room in September 2014

*** *** ***
Last Thursday's Handsworth Helping Hands committee, the last for quite a while, saw good attendance and me getting it in the neck over the sale of the project's ageing power tools that have sat two plus years unused in the Park compound because none of us is accredited to use them and they're all a brand - Efco - that now has no UK dealer network for spares and maintenance. I set up a bidding operation with a few people, starting with the compound staff (who'd looked after the tools in store),  that brought us in hardly £100, but ten old power tools (mowers, leaf blower, hedge trimmers, chain saw, strimmers) are on their way, and out of our responsibility, with a signed receipt and waiver that they're sold 'as seen'. I thought it was best to be rid of them without the time spent cleaning them up, and doing all the things you have to do to get an item on eBay or some other nearly new bargain site and the responsibility that accrues if anything sold goes wrong or causes harm. Lin and Denise disagreed and said I'd lost us the project money; others backed my argument, so I just won a wavery vote of confidence at least.
HHH Committee in our kitchen ~ Denise, John, Charles, Lin (Hon Treas), Mike (Chair), Jimoh (photo: Simon, Hon.Sec)
Lin took the last lot of plants donated by Handsworth Park and along with Oliver tidied the beds on Church Vale.
Linda and Oliver at work on a planter in Church Vale

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back numbers