After the meal long-time member Alex Sawyer talked about the "other invasion" of Gallipoli that occured in 1920 when the 'White Russian' Army, which had been fighting against the Communists (the 'Reds') in the south of Western Russia, gathered at Crimea and Odessa (todays Ukraine), together with family members and Public Service personnel, a total of 198,000 people. They commandeered all available naval vessels, ferries and liners and sailed across the Black Sea to Istanbul. The Turks allowed them to come ashore and confiscated all the ships. Of these 58,000 ended up on Gallipoli, where they remained for 3 years, until resettled in Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and France after they became refugees in 1921. In WWI 3 battalions of the Russian Imperial Army had served on the Western Front suffering large losses. The French Government felt some obligation and accepted several thousand of the White Russians stranded in Turkey.
Alex's parents had been in a similar situation in Eastern Russia, where the Communists did not achieve victory until 1922. They sought refuge in China only to have to flee to the Philippines as the Communist Revolution spread to China. Alex arrived in Australia with his parents. He was called up in the National Service Intake 3/1956 and joined the CMF after his time as a National Serviceman. He served in 9 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment and was commissioned in January 1959.
Alex and his wife Olga travelled to the Philippines last year, where Alex had the privilege of opening one section of the memorial erected on the refugee camp site, from where many were resettled in America and Australia. To view a video of the post WWII White Russian refugee migration to Australia and America via the Philippines, click here.