Lemnos 1915: Then & Now — large format photo book now available for sale


Around 1 km far from the village towards the capital of the island is located the traditional pastry business of Achilladelis. In this area are also located the thermal springs of Limnos, called Therma…

Many, if not most, accounts of Lemnos talk of the hot springs, a popular excursion from the rest camps and hospitals of Mudros.


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View of the hot springs on the Aegean island that the Allies used as a base during the Gallipoli campaign. On the right are the remains of a Roman road. C 1915. Lent by Major M J Herbert. AWM C01431

An unidentified man sitting in a recess at a thermal spring on the Greek island of Lemnos, near the Turkish coast. c 1916. Lent by 13th Battalion. AWM C00549

Then & now

September 1915. Two unidentified soldiers, mounted on donkeys, with a local man at Therma hot springs on the Greek island of Lemnos. AWM C00715

Our photo, August 2011.

Our photos of Therma & Mount Elias, 2011

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The excursion most in favour with the Australian

But the excursion most in favour with the Australian was to the hot springs, on the slope of Mt. Therma. Round these had been built a rest house. The springs fed into two marble baths about three feet deep and six feet long. The water left the rocks at a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and to the man who had not had a decent wash for nearly four months, the opportunity was revelled in. They used the baths in twos and threes, covered themselves in soap and washed it off, and repeated the process until the proprietor of the establishment knocked loudly at the door to announce that other customers were waiting.

A Record of War Service with the Australian Imperial Force, 1915-1919 – Colonel H. B. Collett, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.

A pleasant march

We had one exciting afternoon, being summoned to a neighbouring village by the local priest, who appealed for our help through the Archbishop of Kastro. The complaint was that some soldiers had taken up their residence in the village and were terrorizing the inhabitants. We made a forced march and deported. the men, who, though drunk, seemed peaceable enough. The priest was there at the head of his flock, and called down blessings on our heads, but one of the deportees, on the way out, informed my sergeant that they had incurred his displeasure by refusing to buy very indifferent cognac from him behind the back of the innkeeper. We ended our tour of duty by a pleasant march back to camp, stopping on the summit to bathe in the hot mineral springs and to eat the customary meal of fried eggs, coffee, brown bread, butter and honey.

Three Years with the New Zealanders – Lt.-Col. C. H. Weston

Hot Baths at Thermos

Most welcome news was that, at Thermos, about three miles away, hot baths could be had. From the day when the baths were built, they could not have been more crowded. Since leaving Egypt, five months before, hot baths were unknown, unless one was lucky and sufficiently hurt to be put aboard a hospital ship. So out to Thermos hurried the men, to whom a hot bath was a boon beyond price. The little stone building was below ground level, the inside lined with marble, and with marble basins full and overflowing in each corner so that the marble floor was also awash. The procedure was to strip off and with a little dipper pour the water over oneself. Thermos became the most popular resort on the island.

In the little villages, too, very good meals could be obtained—especially those delicious Continental omelettes made only in countries where eggs, tomatoes and fine herbs are estimated at their full value. The mild Greek beer was also most palatable. Mixed with the wine of the country, it made even the listless Anzacs quite hilarious. The quaint old windmills on the hill, and the church in the village square, where the gossips gathered together, were reminiscent of the Old World life made familiar to us in our youth by means of books and pictures. Indeed, some of these old villages seemed just like an ancient painting come to life. Flocks of sheep with little bells on their necks made sweet tinkling music as they wandered to and from their pasture lands; by the roadside the comely (if rather fat) Greek women worked in the fields, and winnowed in olden style their crops of grain and seeds; on the hillside the ancient windmills ground corn which made a most palatable brown bread; under the spreading tree in the village square, picturesque old patriarchs, apparently telling the tales of ancient Greece, were really discussing how much money they could extract in the shortest time from these open-handed, spendthrift warriors!

The New Zealanders at Gallipoli – Fred Waite (Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1919, Christchurch)

The floor was of marble flags, and the atmosphere full of steam

4 December. Today, I decided that being ‘medical’, and therefore immune and exempt from quarantine, I would go in search of the hot spring ‘Thermia’. I hired a mount and a guide. The former turned out to be a tiny shaggy Shetland pony, and the latter, a small boy. I soon put the boy on the pony and walked. Noticing a pained expression on the pony’s face, I removed the boy and the saddle and found the poor wee thing had a sore back. I made the boy lead the pony and soon dropped them both far behind and lost them!

Following a little bridle track, I wound in and out of the rocky barren hills, getting steeper and bigger as I went inland. After about one-and-a-half hours’ hard walking and scrambling, inquiring my way by signs from Greek shepherd boys, who tended their little flocks, I came on a deep ravine with precipitous rocky walls rising on either side. Nestling at the bottom was a rambling old homestead, half hidden by enormous old fig trees. I descended to this place, which was very like a country boarding house in Australia. Under the beautiful giant fig trees were tables and chairs, and there were several suites of sleeping apartments available for a prolonged stay.

I was at once shown into a large bathroom. The floor was of marble flags, and the atmosphere full of steam. At one end, the floor was scooped out to form a deep bath full of steaming hot water, as clear as crystal. Into this, from a hole in the marble wall, flowed a constant stream of water, exactly the right heat for a good hot bath without being scalded! The water comes from a natural hot spring and runs night and day. It was then 4:30 p.m., and although mess was at six. I could not resist the chance of plunging into the delicious hot water just long enough to soap off my grimy limbs all traces of the trenches and my earthy life therein!

At 5 p.m. I started home. By 5.30 it was quite dark and I missed my way! Sometime after seven I arrived back in the camp weary, footsore and fagged out! I went straight to bed.

Geoffrey Morlet, in Eyes Right! p139

A vessel of this earth renders impotent poison drunk from it

Another trip which was beneficial to us in more ways than one was to Therma, a village, as its name implies, of hot springs. Here the troops indulged in the luxury of a hot bath, the first since leaving our native land for most of us. The springs gush from the hillsides near the bottom of the valley, over which has been built the bath-house. The bathroom is about twelve feet square and dimly lighted by a perforation in the roof which is domed. The floor is paved with marble slabs on to which the hot water splashes from four marble basins set in the walls. Besides these healing waters Lemnos is famous for her “medicinal earth” claimed in olden times to heal festering wounds. Turks of modern times believe that a vessel of this earth renders impotent poison drunk from it.

Edmonds A.H., “The Anzacs at Lemnos”, Reveille 1 April 1935

The modern spa

Therma Spa operates to the present day: www.thermaspa.gr

Published Sunday May 15, 2011 · Last modified Friday January 20, 2012
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence

We're pleased that people are using this website as a source for locations, quotes and other primary source material. It's why we published our notes on the web. But we'd very much appreciate a footnote or credit. Much of the hospital (and other) location information for Lemnos and the Western Front is original research -- thank you, from Bernard & Cheryl