World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                           Mrs M Ellis 

Manchester to Athens, to Manchester

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Mrs. M. Ellis
Location of story: Easingwold, York


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mrs. M. Ellis.

My younger brother, Donald Eaton, was conscripted in 1939 and demobilised in 1946. He was in the Royal Corps of Signals and moved around Europe, having been in North Africa, Italy etc. and eventually serving in Athens for many months. The local residents were either forced to have soldiers billeted on them, or they volunteered. In due course a Greek couple approached a “Signals” unit then serving in Athens, to enquire if any soldier there was from Manchester. My brother was the only one, so he was to be housed with Vicky and Demetrius Popayanopulous, a couple aged about 50. They also accommodated Don’s soldier friend from the Midlands.

Their reason for wanting a Mancunian was that Vicky had been born in the Manchester area, but her parents moved to Athens when she was 17. She of course was fluent in English, but her husband was not. However, they housed Donald and his friend for many months until he was demobilised in 1946.

On returning home, he related his appreciation of how well he had been “mothered” by Vicky and her husband, and this prompted my mother to write to Mr. and Mrs. Popayanopulous thanking them for their hospitality etc., whereupon Vicky replied, saying that my mother was the only person to write to them thanking them for their kindness. Over several years, she had “housed” many different soldiers. Numerous letters were thus exchanged between our family and Vicky, and in due course, Vicky expressed a wish to visit England. It came about that she did visit and she came to stay with my mother. During her visit, she had a longing to see her old home etc. This she did only to find that the then residents, the Bishop of Manchester and his family, were away. However, the maid there invited Vicky inside and she was permitted to see the very room where she was born.

Once life had returned to normal, my husband and I, plus our children, went on cruising holidays and Vicky had said that if we ever sailed out to Athens, she would welcome us to visit her. We did meet her several times, so we were deeply interested to see where my brother had lived during the war. Wonderful memories of the association remain, although by now, Donald and his Athenian hosts have died. He, with his wife, eventually, had also travelled to Athens, but a long friendship was enjoyed by us all for many years.

Manchester was my home for nearly 80 years, but now that I am alone, I have moved to my present address to be near my daughter and family. It’s been quite a change of life for me to live in Yorkshire, a county I love.