Monday, January 12, 2009

Surviving the Nazi Occupation of Greece

Angelina O’Brien donating a cheque to the charity CAFOD in 1987
(L-R): Bishop Hitchen, Angelina O’Brien, Father D. Murphy.
(Family Album Photograph)
The following article about the wartime Greece was written by Mrs Angelina O'Brien (née Marcoulatou). Angelina married a British soldier, Pat O’Brien in December 1945. They made their home in Whitehaven, Cumbria. After WW2 the O’Brien family have undertaken voluntary work and fund-raising for charities such as OXFAM CAFOD and Amnesty International.

“I came to Whitehaven from Greece after I married my husband Pat O'Brien on 31 December 1945. In Greece, my family were forced to sell and relinquish all our land and property just to survive during the wartime Nazi Occupation. We had to survive on eight ounces of bread a day. My main duty was to find, and then haggle for, food on the Black Market. Money had no value then. We had to barter for everything.

My brother was in the Greek Resistance and was eventually caught by the Germans. My sister sold the remains of her dowry to buy his freedom. Everything else had been sold to buy food. We were absolutely starving. Luckily we survived. We saw the dead body of someone recently shot by the Germans and thought it was our brother. When we went to look, the Germans began shooting again. We just ran as fast as we could. Thankfully, our brother survived the war”.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

1. Coming to Britain as a 'war bride'

“Pat arrived in Athens with the British troops in October 1944. There were great scenes of jubilation when they arrived and Pat got a job working for the Anglo-Greek Information Service. In January 1945 I applied there for a job. Pat had generally been employing Greeks with short names that were easy to spell, but I was taken on and that was how we first met. We began courting on Pat's 30th birthday in May 1945. With the language of love we were able to communicate!

When we married on 31 December 1945 we had three weddings in one day - at the local Greek Orthodox Church, an English church and then a military wedding. We were well and truly married. Pat stayed on in the Army for a time but in August 1946 Pat arranged it for me to travel to Whitehaven where I lodged with Pat's sister Ann Jagger. The overland journey to Whitehaven from Greece through war-torn Europe took four weeks. Pat was still in the Army and posted to Germany.

When I came to live in Whitehaven, arriving on 7 September 1946, as a young war bride I was devastated to find out that the nearest Orthodox Church was in Manchester or Glasgow. I could never get to them. Prayer and trust in God kept me going while Pat was in Germany and I here on my own with a new-born baby - Mary, our first child. Of course I lived with Pat's sister Ann Jagger - which helped. But the man I had married was in another country. They had sent him away as soon as our baby was born”.

2. Helping those in need

“God is important to me. I could not live without Him. My life would have no meaning at all without God - it would just be an existence. Faith is a gift from God and, like all gifts, it has to be cultivated or it would become rusty. This Faith is inherited, I know that. I received it from my father Panaghyi Marcoulatos. Father had great faith in God, which sustained him and saved him from Russia's Hell during World War Two. When things were so traumatic for my father, he still trusted God. I was Greek Orthodox by birth, but when I came to live in England after the war I found myself over 150 miles from my nearest church and so attended services in a Catholic Church.

After a great deal of thinking and praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance I wrote to my father for his blessing to become a Catholic. I did not want to betray my roots! However, Father being so understanding he wrote immediately saying I had his blessing! And so in 1953 I became a Catholic.

3. Experience of hunger and war

Because we had three children I was not involved with the work of the church until 1961 and it was then I set up an Oxfam group in Whitehaven for fund raising and promoting its charity work. Later on I did fund-raising for CAFOD (Catholic Fund for Overseas Development).

I also collected for Amnesty International. I had experienced hunger and war in my own life and I started fund raising for the Third World after seeing famine in India on the television. It was for the Third World and my heart bled for these people”.

Click here to read a BBC "People's War" article about Angelina and Pat O'Brien:


3 Additional information by transcriber:

Angelina and Pat O'Brien spent more than 60 years of happy married life together before Pat passed away in August 2006. As Angelina explains she experienced hunger, war and trauma in her Greek homeland - something that she has never forgotten. There are still unfortunate people in great need who can be helped. Although Angelina is no longer able to undertake this voluntary work herself, her children and grandchildren have continued to do so.

Remembering about what happened during the Second World War is still relevant more than 60 years later. The above article is an extract from a longer one that Angelina has written about her experiences. It has been transcribed with permission.

Monday, 12 January, 2009  
Blogger Maria Verivaki said...

Fascinating story of this Greek woman who came to live in England.

I was wondering if your website has any idea about food rationing in Greece during World War @. If you could point me in any direction, I'd be truly appreciative.

Thanks in advance

Sunday, 31 January, 2010  
Blogger Peter G said...

Try the Axis Forum here

You will need to register to pose your question.

Wednesday, 03 February, 2010  
Blogger Maria Verivaki said...


Friday, 12 February, 2010  

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