The story of a community
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|former Boudjah resident born 1916|
Early life in Smyrna:
I was born in Boudjah in Smyrna, in Western Turkey in 1916. I was the son of Eddie de Jongh who was also born in Boudjah and his ancestors had come to Turkey in the early 19th century. My mother was Philis de Jongh, born Peacock, daughter of Jim and Evelyn Peacock. Jim Peacock was born in Aberystwyth and in his early life came to Smyrna to work in the Smyrna to Aidin Railway Company, run by the British, and got married and had 4 daughters. Then he moved to Alexandria where he joined the Egyptian Railway Company as a junior engineer and worked his way in the railways living in various towns in Egypt and ended his career as general manager of the Egyptian Railway Company. His daughters had a wonderful time in Cairo, Egypt with the balls at Shepherd’s Hotel and trips on the Nile. When they were in Egypt they lived in Maadi, a prosperous suburb of Cairo then, in the ‘Railway House’. Then he moved back to Smyrna when he retired. He was at that time in his late 40s. There were plenty of available young men in Smyrna at the time and my mother married Eddie de Jongh. Dolly married Eddie Whittall, the ‘match of the year’, he was so wealthy. Soon after Eddie fell into bad financial ways and they remained very poor for the duration of their lives, with the last I heard of them (late 1930s) they lived in the port city of Canakkale. Her sister Daisy married Eric Cooke one of the managers of the Smyrna – Aidin Railway Company.
My father worked for the Rees Shipping Company, a company his father was a director of. I was brought up in Boudjah and we lived in the ‘Big de Jongh House’. During the First World War most of the de Jonghs left Smyrna and my father lived in that house alone. I remember a few incidents during the War, such as the bombing and the fury of the family that the British were bombing as there were no military targets. But I found it great fun to go down to the cellars of the house and wait for the sound of bombs going off. My other memories of that period were the visits of Dr. Manicopoulos who appeared to be very friendly with my parents. We remained in the house for about 3 years and I remember the visits to the local cinema in the evening, my father would take me on to his shoulders and during the winter I had to walk as my father used to carry a kerosene heater to the cinema. I also remember very vividly the names of the silent movie stars such as Francesca Bertini and Pola Negri. When the family who were abroad returned after the war, they moved into the Big House and we moved to the ‘Konak’ House which my grandfather still owned and all his children had been born there. My memories of our stay there are much more vivid, I was about 3 years old and was very intrigued of the stories I was told such as Lord Byron had stayed there when he visited Boudjah. In the room he slept in he had signed his name on the wall that had been painted over. Even as a child I doubted he had stayed in that house and now I feel he stayed in the Werry Home, unless this house had in the past been owned by this family. It was a very beautiful house with a veranda running around the second floor, covered with wisteria. Asking my parents how scent was made I was told it was made of flowers and during siesta time I used to spend hours amongst these flowers, rubbing them together over a large glass to see how scent was made. I realized that I was told a fib! The garden was a joy to be in amongst the trees. It had large cypress and tchichourdia trees. And there was a large patch of daphne, about 6 foot high and I considered them to be trees. And when I visited the gardens in Boudjah in the 1960s I was amazed to find these plants were only bushes. The Konak house was still standing then and the tenants were the Alibertis [this house ?], but I am not sure if this house is still standing. My other memory of the house and garden was when my father was persuaded by his friends to have a ‘beg fig’ (like a quail) shoot, and these birds were attracted in great numbers to the big trees around the houses. On the Sunday the shoot was arranged I woke up very early in the morning and visited the garden where the staff were preparing the tables for the lunch, for the barbecues post hunt, and these birds were eaten with pilau rice and drunk with beer and raki. My father had agreed for this to take place in his garden on one condition, that they were not to shoot any other birds particularly the golden aureoles that were also abundant. They all agreed to this and a little later on the guests starting arriving before the shoot. But Eric de Jongh broke this agreement, fired and killed 2 of these birds and father cancelled the party in his fury. I watched with fascination as the staff had to collect the tables, chairs and the preparations for the party.
One of the hazy memories Mr de Jongh has of his adolescence was hiding in the cellar of their house in Boudjah, with others in the household, during WWI against the possibility of aerial bombardment from the then British occupied island of Imbros [Gökçeada](~200 km to the north), and his father was used, for a short time after the initial bombardment, as a human shield by being made to sleep at an ammunition dump. At aged 2, this was Edward’s earliest memory, and he remembers he could hear both the planes and bombs. At a later age he also remembers his father calling Compton MacKenzie, head of Aegean Intelligence based at Imbros at the time, ‘a fool for wasting his time bombing the city’. Even more remarkable is Edwards memory (when he was 2-4) of family trips to the cinema in Boudjah, where the silent movies, all from Italy, were shown, with the great star of the time being Francesca Bertini, and other stars whose name he can remember are the actress Pina Menichelli, and the actor Tulio Calvenati. Returning around 9-10 o’clock in the evening, Edward can remember being carried on the shoulders of his father who held in his hand an acetylene lamp used in the cinema salon to keep the family warm in the winter chill.
Note: This cinema is mentioned in the book of the village written by Nikos Kararas, viewable here.
Other happy memories were of his time living in the house of the farm his father (Edward David) had bought in 1920. Situated in the then city extremity of İnciraltı (Sikies in Greek meaning fig trees) [click here for a view of the beach in 1950], it was a fruit and vegetable farm on the beach overlooked by the twin peaks of the ‘twin sisters’, an idyllic location the family could only briefly enjoy as 2 years later they had to depart with the 1922 events. Edward recalls as a little boy of 5 or so walking around together with his father in the grounds at night, as he was told of stars and planets and things. This was a glorious time for me because it was a beautiful garden for me to roam and talk to the workmen with whom I spoke in Greek and I used to go down to the beach first thing in the morning and delight in watching the fisherman bring up their catch. I usually climbed a fig tree and sang Greek war songs and the popular Greek songs of Smyrna, which I had learnt by heart. These old time serenades were known as ‘Politaki’, meaning the music of the big city, referring to Constantinople. One very popular one he still remembers is:
Yalo, yalo, pienamé kolo ya sena legamé
I used to swim in the summer time, but never alone, loved the water but was a bit scared to be alone in it and never went further than my depth. Of course there were the occasional jelly-fish in the sea, but I still have fond memories of my days on the beach. On one occasion my grandfather Peacock was visiting and had stayed overnight and at nine o’clock in the morning I was called from my perch on a fig tree on the beach to have breakfast. When I got to the veranda where they were having breakfast I saw to my amazement a jelly which my mother had prepared in honour to my grandfather and I asked what it was, never having seen one before. Jokingly my grandfather said ‘a jelly fish from the sea’ and I was horrified he was eating it. I had a wonderful time in Sikies and the nights were perfectly clear and my father used to point out in walks the stars and the Milky Way, naming all the planets, telling me their movements. One early morning when it was still dark he woke me up to show me one of the planets we had seen in the evening, and showing the new position in the morning. In the evenings we used to listen to the cry of the animals in the countryside and try to name them from the calls. We were frequently trying to distinguish the laugh-like call we took to be of a hyena. The 17 acres were sold for £400 in 1923. The area was later to become the local bathing spot for the city until increasing marine pollution in the 60s made it unpleasant till today. A photograph in the collection of Mr de Jongh, shows the 2 storied partially built stone building (long ago destroyed) with a family group spread out on the terrace, including his mother’s mother Evelyn Peacock (a de Jongh) who married James Peacock who as a youngster came to Turkey as a railwayman and later was to be a chief engineer in the British run Egyptian railways.
During the 1922 events this Sikies farm house was completely looted, including the plants in the garden that were uprooted. What they couldn’t take such as the kitchen sink was broken and the psychological effect for Edward’s parents was devastating. The big Boudjah house was only partly looted, all furniture and many minor items were left and before the event Edward’s mother and grandmother tried to hide valuables within the house. Edward thinks the looting here was not done by the newly arrived Turkish troops but opportunist locals, some possibly employed in the past by the family, so had inside knowledge of contents. Many of the various surviving items of this house are scattered with descendants and Edward still has in his possession 2 chairs and the plate service that was used in this house.
Edward has few recollections of the Boudjah house as he had to leave it when he was so young, but remembers a tandour, the traditional Ottoman heated table, that saw people huddled around it in cold winter evenings.
Traumatic memories were of the 1922 events, when Edward’s grandfather, Henry de Jongh, insisted on his son and family leaving the farm for the relative safety of the big house in Boudjah, with the approach of the chetes [Turkish irregulars]. Ironically safety was not to be found there as uncle Oscar de Jongh and wife Cleofe, were tragically killed by the Turkish forces. They were shot by the vanguard of the Turkish cavalry, as they tried to protect one of their Greek maids. Then grandfather made arrangements with his partner Johnny Rees to evacuate the family to the Rees yacht the ‘Mingary’, to which they went first by motorcar then by boat. From the yacht Edward remembers seeing a group of advancing Turkish troops involved in a firefight on the bare hillside possibly around Bayraklı. Edward remembers that in childhood excitement, he wetted his pants, but no adult scolded him for it, confirming to his child’s mind that some tragic events of epic proportions were unfolding. The family left the yacht a short time later to land on the quay of the then chaotic Smyrna. This had to be done to be transferred to the British hospital ship, the ‘Maine’, where they were given cabins and left 2 days before the great fire. The trip to Malta was uneventful. The ‘Mingary’ made its own way to England with daughter of Oscar de Jongh, Marika with her son to join her husband Mr Douglas Fraser in England. It was from Mr Fraser that Edward got a photograph of the yacht still in his possession. A few Levantines stayed in Smyrna, including Henry de Jongh (Edward’s father’s brother) who being a young bachelor elected to stay in the big house, and did the rudimentary arrangements for the burial of his brother Oscar and his wife.
After staying in this house we moved to a house that my father had built on a small fruit and vegetable garden. This was at ‘Skies’ (İnciraltı) peripheral neighbourhood of Smyrna, about 17 acres adjoining the coast and beach.
Another memory of mine from that period was I loved cherries and I was told to take great care not to swallow the pips. I asked why I shouldn’t swallow the pips and I was jokingly told I would die if I swallowed them. And on one occasion, when I was about 4, I did swallow a pip and I prepared myself to die and went to bed thinking that it would be my last sleep. The following morning I woke to find myself I hadn’t died and realized that people say lies even to their closest friends. It made a great difference in my outlook towards people.
I remember very vividly the preparations for the Greek-Turkish war (1919-1922) and the marches of Greek troops that used to pass on the main road in Sikies. My parents were obviously very worried about the situation and we didn’t have many visitors. I remember occasionally visits by my uncle Eric de Jongh and long talks my father used to have with Issigonis senior who also had great gardeners in their farm. Gardening was a shared passion between these two men, including importing Italian gardeners for their projects. Thereabouts my memories of the farm fade and we moved to the Big House in Boudjah because of the advent of the war and the fighting was nearing the city. We remained in the Big House about 2 days and my mother helped my grandmother who was tidying the house and organizing and concealing valuables as they knew they had to leave it. At that time my aunt Cleo and her husband Oscar de Jongh were killed nearby in the street in Boudjah by the advancing ‘chettes’ acting as the forward irregulars of the main Turkish army. When one of their Greek servant girls was captured by the chettes they tried to intervene and the girl was taken away and they paid with their life. When this occurred my grandfather decided all the family had to leave Turkey. We went down to a small harbour, but not the main harbour and we were taken in rowing boats to a very large yacht probably belonging to a Levantine family. On the boat I wetted myself and was terrified my mother would scold me but somehow she never said a word and I was very surprised. We quartered in a large lounge on this yacht. The windows in the lounge were covered and it was very dark. I managed to escape from the family and I got on to the deck of the ship and watched with great interest the fighting that was taking place on the shore. Then my memory fades again and I have no idea of how we got on to the hospital ship the ‘SS Maine’. How we got through all the slaughter that was taking place in the main harbour. I often wonder if it is nature that has blackened out that period for me. My parents would never talk of that period and I never found out how we moved on to the hospital ship. And I missed seeing the great fire. My only recollection of our trip to Malta was that I went on the upper deck while we were sailing and played with the three Whittall boys. I remember our entry to the grand hotel in Valetta, Malta, which faced the harbour.
During their time in Malta 1922-3, because his grandfather was wealthy, they were not placed in a refugee camp like the majority but stayed in a posh hotel in Valetta (the capital) on the harbour, it was a stately hotel of red brick, rather resembling the Russell Hotel in London. The only incident I recall there was when I was taken by my parents to the swimming pool which was full of young Smyrna refugees who were having a great time in the pool. Naturally I wanted to swim, but it seemed a wonderfully delightful place to be in, but I had no bathing costume. So my mother tied a large white handkerchief around my bottom. And I immediately jumped in to the pool and to my horror immediately sank beyond my depth and came up and realised I could swim. Amongst the guests of this hotel were the ‘3 Whittall boys’. One of these boys was later to grow up to be a successful businessman in London, Donald. The mischiefness of these boys placed Edward in a lot of trouble as he was falsely accused of ‘watering’ the guests below a balcony. He was the son of Lily nee Gout, sister of John Gout, the Boudjah family Mr de Jongh’s parents knew well. John Gout married Marian de Jongh, sister to Evelyn and Henry de Jongh who was Mr de Jongh’s grandfather. They had 3 sons, Wilfred, Geoffrey and Cecil.
Note: From Willem Daniels’ family tree we have exact details for these: Marian de Jongh married John Gout circa 1879. They had in actual fact 6 children, Wilfred was the third child, Geoffrey the fifth, there is no Cecil. The first was Percival James, second Henry, the fourth Ethel, and sixth Rhoda ‘Dodo’ Gout.
The Gout family was extensively spread across the Levant, and another member of the family Edward was familiar with was Vivian Duveluz Gout, who was in India during the war, married an English woman and later remarried a German / Scandinavian, a country he is likely to be still living in today, if alive, as he would be in his 90s.
We moved from the hotel to 2 large houses on the desolate sea-front at Slima (a suburb of Valetta). We (my father, mother and sister) stayed in the smaller villa. The rest of the family (grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles) lived in the large adjoining house and I think we had all our meals with them there. My memories of the houses is very meagre but I remember I got to love music because my father had bought a small portable gramophone, and I remember my favourite music was Litzs second piano concerto, Boris Goodenoff’s famous opera whose name escapes me, whose principal singer was Chalyapin. It was a very good basis, and I know it influenced my future love of classical music. I was 6 years old at the time.
On one occasion my parents went to Valetta and we saw Madame Butterfly at the Opera House. I was wild with enthusiasm and I still have fond memories of the main song, ‘a fine day’. On the other hand I took a dislike to Wagner and his pomposity put me off Wagner for many years.
Later the whole family left Malta for good, our final destination was to be Monton in the South of France. Our first stop was in Naples where again we stayed at the grand Hotel on the seafront, and went on an excursion to Capri. And I was thrilled to be taken to the Blue Grotto, a cave, where I was impressed with the blue waters and the fisherman singing local songs. We also visited Pompei which even at the age of 6 I was very taken with. We continued the journey to Rome where we stayed at the Flora Hotel on the via Venito. We also became very close to the Italian members of the family who were my aunt Helen who had married Edie Rossi and their youngsters who lived in a beautiful penthouse close to the Platza del Poplo and close to the River Tiber. I have remained good and close friends with my Italian relations all my life and spent many holidays with them. We then went on to Milan where we had a short stay, I remember the Cathedral and the Stoa Emmanuel where I was taken for a walk with my grandfather. I felt very grand to be in his company. We then continued the journey by train through the many tunnels of the rail route and stopped in Monton, where my parents seemed to have already made arrangements to go into a large flat on the promenade. There were some cousins of the family, Tarrazzi, who lived in the adjoining town who persuaded my grandparents to look into that area for retirement. My grandfather did not like it and continued with the family to Nice. Me and my parents remained in Monton. I remember the sea-storms on the front of the promenade and occasionally seeing a whale in the distance, in the bay. My childhood there was dull even to a little boy where we had nurses to look after me and my sister and we used to go to children’s parties and cricket which I found all a bit of a bore. How long we stayed I can’t remember but we left there to continue our journey to Greece where my father had got the representation of a Swedish timber company and planned to become a timber merchant in the South of Greece.
Edward’s grandfather Henry de Jongh was handsome and a shrew businessman who worked with the Rees family, based in Athens during WWI. He spoke fluent Greek. His family (wife and girls) spent the war years in Bath, England. His son (Edward’s father Eddie) stayed in Smyrna looking after business interests there. After WWI grandfather decided to retire to the South of France, as a pleasant place to be. He rented a house in Nice, stayed there for a while, enjoying the promenades and casinos, but later decided this wasn’t for them.
The De Jongh family then spent some time in Menton, South of France, then drifting to Patras [postcard views] in Greece where there was already a long-standing British merchant community, with surnames Edward can remember such as Morphy, Crow and Prichard. This last family emigrated to New Zealand while the De Jongh family was still (1923~1927) in this port city, and the others gradually moved to Athens, as according to Edward, ‘they got bored’. In Patras I made friends with Greek merchants’ children where we used play rounders in the main square and take promenades to the outskirts of the town to view the old castle. Edward’s father Eddie ran a wood-importing firm with fellow Smyrnaian, Théo Tarazzi based in this city. After this interim, the De Jongh family also made Athens their new home, as father Eddie had a new job; the chief accountant of the Laïs hosiery factory. Earlier Eddie had been to King’s College, Canterbury for his education. The firm was sold after the Second World War.
From Patras we moved to Athens, where I immediately fell in love with the city and the countryside.
The Greece residency:
In Athens I went to the ‘High school’, an offshoot of the better known British high school for boys in Istanbul, but a smaller ‘strange’ establishment with around 12 to 18 mixed sex students. This was established in around 1923 by one of the masters of the latter school, the middle-aged Mr Metcalfe who was married to an Istanbul Anglo-Levantine, a formerly Miss Bond, whose 2 brothers had also made a move to Athens. Edward can not remember the first name of the wife who didn’t look or sound English, unlike Mr Metcalfe. They had a son, John, who lived in Cheltelham, England, and used to visit them in the summers in the early 1930s. Mr Metcalfe with his mitre and cloak was able to impress Edward’s mother, but in reality the school was somewhat disorganised, and Edward’s education was ‘disjointed’. The situation was compounded by the stressful family atmosphere brought on by the now economically trying times. The large classroom was in their home in Athens and there was a courtyard where we used to play. As you can understand, it was a very meagre education that I had, the school master Mr Metcalfe who was a very nice man used to repeat himself every year and the subjects were mostly British history. In the mention of my moving to a bigger and better school was put off by my mother who said ‘you don’t want to be amongst other boys and learn only Greek’. This decision to stay at Metcalfe’s High School for boys I view as a great mistake, as my education was very poor. At the age of 12 and half we were visited in Athens by the Bishop of Gibraltar, and Anglicans in Athens was under his jurisdiction. The headmaster suggested to my parents that I should be confirmed by the Bishop of Gibraltar during his visit. I consulted my little girl-friend, Myrtle, who was the daughter of the head of the Greek police who was an Englishman and I told her I wasn’t going to attend the religious lessons as I was not a believer. Yet I was confirmed so as to be with my Myrtle in the evening lessons. The school stopped functioning well before the Second World War, and the building is lost to the Athens sprawl.
Note: There is an Albert Mayor Metcalfe buried in Athens Anglican cemetery (died aged 63, 1935), whose name sounded right to Edward. The 2 Bond names recorded in the same on-line listing are almost certainly from the same above named family. According to a fellow researcher, Jochen Schrader (on his ancestor, Friedrich Schrader and family), the Bonds were apparently of Scottish origin and worked for the Ottoman Bank for several generations, based in Pera, Constantinople.
As I said previously I was very impressed by the city of Athens and its suburbs. We moved to the old Roman suburb of Kifissia which was a holiday resort for the wealthy Greeks during the summer months and there were many fine hotels. In the following years we changed house a number of times until my parents bought a villa in the neighbourhood of Kifissia. My grandparents had by then moved from Nice and moved to Athens and my grandmother had a magnificent mansion built in Kifissia, so we became neighbours.
In the 1920s grandfather Henry de Jongh built a big pallatial house in the then Athens suburb of Psihiko, which had enormous terraces, big dining room, reception hall, library, 7 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms etc., enough space for all the 7 children. By the time he died in 1935 (aged 72 of cancer) the children had married and gone off, and for grandmother this house was not practical so it was sold off immediately. The buyers were a Greek family from England, and later The Crown Prince of Greece wanted to buy it from them, but was unsuccessful. It was later sold to the South Africans who converted it to their embassy and later the Chinese who used it for the same purpose. After grandfather’s death, his widow Dora had a smaller lovely villa built nearby (a mile away) in which she lived most of the rest of her life, which lasted until the 1960s. This house was then sold to a prominent Greek ship builder. Edward believes this charming villa concealed by trees is still standing.
We moved from Kifissia to a suburb of Athens known as Psikio which was originally a Roman town, very sparsely inhabited then, but a budding suburb very popular with the wealthy Greeks. This new house was an ordinary villa with marble and parquet floors and consisted of a fairly nice sized garden, two big living rooms, a hallway, adequate toilets and the kitchens sufficient to accommodate a cook and his wife, my father’s library and five bedrooms with 2 large bathrooms upstairs. They had well known social neighbours, particularly the Byzantine family of Synyosolou. In this district there were also settled the following Smyrna families: the Rees, the Forbes, Fidao, Warren and many others.
As a young boy of around 11 years of age in Athens, I had a fascination for the ruins and more than once I climbed to the Acropolis on my own under a wide-brimmed hat, yet was jokily mocked by peers and elders who saw little to gain in such exercise.
Most of the school children who lived in Kifissia used to take the train from Athens to this neighbourhood. This line had been built in the earlier days by wealthy Greeks to whom Kifissia was a summer heaven where they would get away from the crowded streets of Athens. Kifissia was a place abundant in gardens. The children travelling by train had a lot of fun, as the journey would take about an hour, with fights amongst the school boys. The train was known amongst school children as ‘The Terror’. The existence of the ‘Terror’ was something that was created pre WWII society, as people who used to go on holidays to Kifissia were wealthy and had enough money to socialize.
These young people grew up and married amongst themselves including prominent writers and painters and prominent people in Greek society. There were lots of political and social scandals that would be floating around in the newspapers and gossip in entertainment places such as the tennis club in Athens and cafes near the Presidential Palace. There was the scandal of the French embassy which occupied people’s interest. I will give you my version of the events as it took place. I got to know Marjorie the daughter of the Brazilian ambassador some years before.
Having arrived in Athens I would normally go into the lounge of the hotel ‘Grand Bretagne’ and on this particular day I am about to talk about, I went into the barber shop and had a usual shave and then ventured to see what fun was to be had. Walking down Odios ... street, on the side of the main jeweller of Athens there was a group of young people around 5 persons, and had the appearance of being foreigners, laughing and joking, obviously taking in the beauty of the things on display in the shops. I crossed the street and went to my usual coffee shop for that time of the day and asked a friend of mine who these people were. He told me they were members of the Brazilian Embassy. Naturally I was very attracted to them, they appeared wonderful fun and was particularly good looking tall, olive skinned lady by the name of Marjorie. The group joined us in having coffee and then we all went to see the current film that was on. From that day on I was very friendly with the members of the Brazilian Embassy. Marjorie who had a brilliant personality became great friends with the embassy personnel and attended most of the parties that were being given by the various legations and the current Greek high society. The years went by and Marjorie Eulaliou became a great friend of my family as well, attending most of the parties given at the time, used to come and stay with us in the house by the sea. She really became the star of Athens and started drinking. On occasions she used to dance when drunk. During that period she and I were very close friends. This was probably for a period of a few years, when I was around 18-19. Although she was friendly with the elderly members of the Greek and foreign society, I began to be interested in other people and girls, and started to cool off of her. She used to attend very wild young parties. At that period there were very gay (happy) parties amongst Greek and foreign society members led by a Greek friend of mine ... who was a journalist, the representative of the Daily Mail in Athens. He and I were very friendly with two young Frenchmen in the Embassy who took the opportunity of planning a party when their parents were away on a classical tour of Greece, so having the free use of the sitting room of the French Embassy, which was a very fine old building. They didn’t have enough money to finance it on their own, so we all brought drinks and food. The party was a success and not wild as anticipated and most people had left by 9 o’clock. I and Marjorie were left together and we went together to a well known cafe and sat on the pavement and wiled away the time, before taking Marjorie home at 10.30, driving in her car. The next day, at the office I received a telephone call from a friend of mine, to ask me if I had been at this party and he began to tell me the stories surrounding this, a supposed orgy. At the climax of the party, allegedly Marjorie had left the party, not with me, but with a couple of other young men and danced naked on the terrace, facing the Greek parliament. Next week similar stories circulated everywhere and nobody believed me, thinking I was covering up for Marjorie. Marjorie went on the same manner until I persuaded her she should cut down on the drinking. Marjorie continued to be friends with the family, seeing my sister Nancy and myself and occasionally telephoning me and on one occasion informing me that she was pregnant and alleging I was the father. I retorted she was neither pregnant and I wasn’t the father. But she was assured by 2 of her friends she was pregnant, but she wasn’t. Later she continued her life in a more subdued manner and a few years later married a Greek tobacco merchant and returned to Brazil in the war time, with him. I never saw her again.
The conclusion I have come up with this whole story is that it was concocted by German propagandists in Greece and they had the services of my friend who was the representative of the Daily Mail and it built up to stoke a feeling of anti-British in the country.
Among my many interests in ancient Greece was my visits to the Acropolis and studying the architecture of that time. In those days the Acropolis was not as it is today, covered with guards, it was a free zoning area for artists and archaeologists.
Greece, particularly Athens was a haven for tourists in the inter-war years. Greece had not been developed as a tourist resort, so visitors would come to marvel at the antiquities this land had to offer, and connect with the history of ancient Greece. Tourists used to congregate around the Royal Palace which had been converted into the parliament house and faced Syntegma Square and nearby cafes and hotels. Syntegma square was surrounded by the upper class Greek homes and particularly beautiful flats on the slopes of Lykabettus Hill with its little Byzantine Church on its summit. Another area which was very popular with the tourists of that day were some of the islands such as Corfu, Crete, Mytilini, etc. The tourists were not occupied with political Greece which full of unease at the time, having lost the war in Asia Minor to the Turks and because of the splits between the Metaxa regime and the old Royalists which were pro German. The royal family were pro-German but of British relationship. The ordinary man in the street would have been a Venezilist and pro-Allies. The middle class Greeks were torn between these two camps.
We remained in this property until WW2. My parents lived a very quiet life, in the entertainment line they mostly played cards with their friends. My mother was a very keen Bridge player and whenever a Bridge party was arranged she would be there. My parents later also had a house by the sea.
My days in Greece, but particularly in Psikio were, I would get up in the morning and go to the office by 9 o’clock attend to work up to 12 or 1 o’clock then go home, have lunch and have an hour’s siesta and shower and then after afternoon tea or sitting at a cafe would go socializing, such as going to the tennis club or a drive by the shore or else playing cards. At about 9 o’clock one would have dinner and after dinner sometimes going dancing or playing cards.
When the family left Smyrna / Izmir they decided to set up a hosiery factory in the South of Greece. They appointed Henry de Jongh as manager, he was technically endowed and worked closely with their Dutch associates in Holland and planned the construction of a factory on land that they had bought at about 9 miles from the centre of Athens. This factory was run by Henry de Jongh and assisted by his brother Eddie de Jongh who was my father. Henry was the main stay of the organisation, called ‘Lais Hosiery Works’ (Lais was a woman in Greek mythology sentenced to death, but saved by her beauty) and worked closely with his associates in Holland and Germany. This factory consisted of machinery to manufacture silk women’s hosiery and there were machines also used to produce men’s socks. As the years progressed the factory was successful and its hosiery machinery was improved and sales were quite buoyant. Henry drived to the factory every morning and picked up his brother Eddie on the way and when I was old enough I was also included in the car load. We would be picked up at 9 o’clock in the morning, arrive at the factory works at a quarter past nine, Henry used to go to his main office within the factory works. My father would attend to the books, and I was taught the different aspects of the business with the idea that I would be assistant manager and look after sales. My activities were mostly on the sales side. The sales operation was handled by a well known Greek sales company. Amongst my duties were calling on Greek shops and visiting our suppliers of silk in the country, both in the South and North of Greece. It was very enjoyable work, particularly the trips to the country were I had the opportunity of visiting the local manufacturers of silk and visiting the well known historical and mythological places of Greece, such as Delphi. The organisation was handled by Henry de Jongh until the beginning of WWII when a Greek company became its associate and Henry was given an associate manager position from the Greek company. This went on till the end of the war when Henry took on the organisation as in the past. My duties as I have already outlined, so were my activities in the evening free hours as above. Eventually the factory was sold to a larger Greek textile organisation after the war. Henry retired from business in Greece and went with his family to Kenya where he worked in an association with the Coca-Cola factory in Kenya. My father was very much in poorer health than Henry, eventually retired to Australia where he, my mother and sister lived in a country home. I took my time in looking for an appropriate job and ended up in Australia as well.
As the war years approached I had met ‘Tish’ Paterson also of Smyrna origin and we got married in Athens. After the sale of the factory, my wife and I remained in Athens for a little while, but my wife, whose family was in Turkey, went with the young baby boy to Smyrna where she remained until I had established myself somewhere abroad. I joined her for a short period and then started my travels abroad to find a suitable place to establish myself with my wife and 2 baby boys. From Smyrna I took a trip to Cyprus, travelling across Turkey from Izmir to Iskenderun and then onto Cyprus. I was offered a job in Kenya to work to work in a Coca-Cola factory. There I did not see eye to eye with one of the managers and went to Cape Town, South Africa, where unfortunately they were undergoing a serious recession. I was enthralled with what I saw there. My parents had already moved to Sydney, Australia and persuaded me that opportunities for work were plenty and so I was persuaded to move to Sydney and we sailed a few months later with my wife and 2 baby boys who had joined us from Izmir. Although I was not employed in that period of time, I learnt a lot about the life in the ‘colonies’, and within 2 weeks of arriving in Sydney I procured a job at R.J. Dunn, business investigators and consultants. After a period of 2 years I moved to a job in Australian airlines and then from there climbed up and moved to a senior position in KLM. Meanwhile the boys had grown into teenagers, yet my wife retained a great yearning to return to Europe, which we did in the 1960s.
The Barbers were an old British family who lived in Greece for over a century. During the war Mrs Barber took refuge in my bedroom, sheltered by my mother, with whom she played bridge. This elderly lady thus kept a low profile. Other bridge partners were a neighbour, a Greek, Synniosoglou, an old Byzantine family of bankers, and the princess who was related to Prince Philip of Britain. They played at Synniosoglou’s house, and the princess would come with her car from the Royal Palace. I can still hear Synniosoglou’s high shrieking voice across the road. I used to see Mrs Barber’s daughter, Alison, who was my age group. There was a Greek dentist, whose wife was English, whose names escape me, living quite close to our house in Athens, and there was a support network, using the shop as a safe house for escaped prisoners to stay overnight. This was dangerous work, had the Germans found out, he would have certainly been shot. Brian de Jongh, my uncle, continued to live in Smyrna, Turkey, throughout the war as an officer assigned to intelligence. After the war, he returned to Athens used to give lessons to young Greek people wanting to learn English.
At the beginning of the war I was still employed by my family hosiery business in Greece. At the declaration of war between Great Britain and Germany, I volunteered to join the forces. My wife who was a British subject and I remained in Greece until the German and Italian forces had invaded Greece in 1941. I had received a phone call from the embassy advising me to leave on these ships, knowing I would be interred by the Germans, as I had volunteered and was known as an anti-Nazi. My wife and I left Greece on a convoy of 3 refugee ships which had been commandeered by the British Army and after 3 days at sea we landed in Egypt. However on the second day food on board ran out, and docking at the wharf-side in Alexandria, I remember people and soldiers on the pier throwing up to outstretched hands cans of food, and I personally opened a can of meat to present it to my grateful wife. On arrival in Egypt I immediately joined the forces and remained in Cairo for approximately 1 year, waiting for transport to take me and my wife to the United Kingdom. My stay in Cairo was very interesting, I had lots of free time and spent most mornings on the terrace of Shepherd’s Hotel, mixing with the members of the Forces that I knew and the famous war time characters, both civilian and military. My wife who was a very keen tennis player used to spend most of her time on the tennis courts, playing with army colleagues. We had the entry into interesting society due to the fact that my mother’s brother Frank Peacock was in the diplomatic service and attached to the British Embassy in Cairo. After a period about a year we finally got accommodation on a troop ship to take us to England. The sea journey was extremely interesting, our days were spent playing cards and we had some very interesting stop-overs, such as Mombassa in Kenya, Durban, and we had a whole week in Cape Town which was a joy. From Cape Town our ship sailed normally to Trinidad in the Caribbean, zigzagging most of the way, then onto Liverpool, but via the North Atlantic and that part of the journey took 1 month zigzagging, as we had reached the dangerous waters of the Atlantic. We were horrified with the sight of Liverpool harbour with all the sunken ships on display. There our papers were examined by the British authorities and I was given instructions to board the train to London with the Dutch contingent that had been on the ship, but my wife was told that she was free and at home and was given no support! After a lot of discussions we persuaded the authorities to let her join the Dutch contingent, which was a matter of 7 men, due to be met by the Dutch Forces in London. My wife was very indignant at arriving at her homeland, expected better treatment. We arrived in London, the same evening and were met by a British Army contingent and were then sent by military vehicles to a camp for displaced people. On arrival she telephoned me to tell me her accommodation was deplorable, a camp for foreign refugees and I was in luxury accommodation. The camp officer informed me we would be re-united the following day, but it had been too late in the evening to change the regulations. The next morning all 7 men in our party were interrogated by the head of the camp for general information. I explained to the camp officer that my wife was a British subject and had accompanied me from Greece and Egypt and had came to be reunited with her family and that she was very indignant to be put in a foreign camp, whereas I was in the British camp. In the meanwhile he had communicated the officials of her camp and had been told that she was very indignant and had been told that she would be re-united with me in the afternoon. Meanwhile at the interrogation the camp commandant seemed to be very interested in my story and was curious of the facts that my wife’s family lived in Turkey. During our conversation he (Albert Keun) told me that he was a member of the Keun family of Smyrna and they were terribly anxious about my wife’s whereabouts. He told us that arrangements had been made for us to stay at the local Grosvenor Hotel in London and that my wife’s brother, Gerald Paterson, who was in Scotland at the time, had made arrangements to come back to London immediately to see his sister. We were joined by Gerald and on Christmas Eve he took us out to dinner to the Ritz and there amusingly asked my wife what she knew about me and my girlfriends. My wife told him that the joke was that I had a girlfriend much older than myself, a lady in her forties, and she only knew of this story. Whereupon Gerald bent back in his chair and put his arm around a lady who was sitting at the bar and said to her ‘I have an old friend of yours here’. It was trick and she (Kara) had been my girlfriend for a short period 10 years ago!
During the Second World War I served with the free Netherlands forces based mostly in England. After the war the unfavourable business conditions in Greece make me leave the country after 2 years, I spent 3 months in Izmir and in 1947 emigrated with my wife to Australia to join my parents where I worked for the Dutch airline KLM till the 60s. Nostalgia forces a reluctant European return.
During the 70’s I went back to my beloved Greece where I got a job with P&O. I also worked as a tour guide and subsequently got involved with in and exporting of books run by a British company. The job brought me to London in the early 80’s, and from there I visited the major book fairs and cities in Europe as well as having the opportunity of regular visits to the agent in Greece.
Mr de Jongh now resident in London left Boudjah with his family when aged 6, during the 1922 disturbances. Despite the tender age of departure he was familiar enough with Boudjah to find his way around the streets when he subsequently visited the village a couple of times later, lastly just after the Second World War. During his visits he would stay at the house of the in-laws in Bornova, the Patersons as he was married to one of the identical twins, Mabel Maud. Mable Maud was known by her nick name ‘Tish’ and together with twin Violet, used to dress in identical clothes and play pranks with people. Violet in turn was known as ‘Blue’, attesting to the colour of clothes she would wear to distinguish her from her sister in pink. Even the father would be confused and used to call them both ‘twin’. Their father, Stanley Borthwick Paterson was a successful chromium miner and despite the government sequestration of his mines in Fethiye (extreme south-west Turkey) in 1935, remained in Turkey till the 60s and then moved and died in England. He never discussed this matter though it must have been traumatic at the time.
Note: At the public records office library in London there is a file I examined, (FO 406-40) ‘1935-1941 Paterson & Co, claim against Turkish government for compensation in return for appropriation of chrome ore mines’.
Mr de Jongh remembers with affection a brother of Stanley Paterson, Athens resident Harry who died in 1952, and another brother he knew was Eric who died at an old age in London. With the death of Stanley, Eric, in association with Stanley’s son Gerald, ran the business from London through the 1960s.
It seems the ‘original’ Paterson was John Borthwick from Scotland who bought chromium mines in Turkey and sent his son, possibly Douglas Carr to run these mines and whose son was Stanley. From family lore, Edward knows that John Borthwick married Henrietta Preziosa, whose maiden name was Routh, who was the daughter of the British Consul in Constantinople. Stanley’s mother was Emily from the Rocca family. They have 3 other children, Harry (marries a Maud Fitzgerald, and their daughter in turn marries an Italian, Amos Agujari a former Naval officer), Winnie and Maud. Winnie married into the Reggio family and had two daughters, Gwen (known as ‘Beeb’ in the Paterson nick name style) and Paola who married Tony Waller and continues to live in Nottinghill Gate, London. Gwen married ‘Bill’ Giraud. William Giraud was a racecourse enthusiast and an annual race cup is still held in his name in Buca racecourse. Bill and Gwen had 4 (2 girls) children, Bernard (banking in Paris) the youngest, Hervé the eldest. Hervé Giraud, who is now in his 60s continues to run the old stud farm in Buca, while also acting as manager in the old family concern of the cotton mill ‘Pamuk mensucat’. Hervé Giraud’s daughter Caroline belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Turkey as she married, in the 1980s, possibly the most eligible bachelor in Turkey at the time, Mustafa Koç, heir to the Koç group of companies.
Audrey, née La Fontaine, married Jeffrey Maltass and had a son from her previous marriage to Bill Giraud, named Alain. The latter died Nov. 2005 in Bornova.
Stanley Paterson has 4 children with Mary Keun; Mable Maud ‘Tish’, Violet ‘Blue’, Gerald and Monica. Monica marries Everett Washburn, whose son Lorin still lives in London.
Notes: 1- The Bornova Anglican
cemetery seems to follow this tree, as the oldest of the 7 graves is
that of John Borthwick (1818-1889), Douglas Carr has an acceptable date
to be his son (1856-1929) as with his wife, Emily Letitia (1857-1934)
and their son Stanley Borthwick’s obituary in ‘Candlesticks’ records
his lifetime as having died 1956 aged 74. Harry his brother is listed
as having lived 1883-1952.
Notes: 1- From the
p.220 details that in the 1950s Marcelle Russo and Richard
G. Abbott (presumably a direct descendant of his namesake) ran a firm
exporting a significant amount of corundum powder for the period and
later went into the production of synthetic corundum abrasive too. The
firm was founded in 1893, but by the time the book was published (1993)
it had long since ceased trading. Considering the valuable corundum
ore in the area, it seems probable one of the former Levantine houses
of Milas, belonged to one (or both) of these families. Edward is
aware of the Russo family, and one member (not sure of first name) was
the business partner of Harry Giraud.
Edward has kept a local Turkish newspaper clipping from 1990 (8-April), showing a photo of the Paterson house, then much altered. It details the sad story under the title ‘the crying mansion: Paterson’, of the demise of the Paterson house, with a photograph of the gutted side wall, one of the few structures still standing after the arson of 1987.
Edward is aware of a small army of staff at the Paterson house, numbering 60 before WWI and down to 18 post WWI, including the Greek cook, Marko he remembers. The use of the rooms was also altered in this period with the long and central room converted to the billiards room, where Stanley would play in the afternoons, and the library was turned in to the dining room. At the far end of this room was the tandour around whose warmth cards were played in the evening. Stanley’s wife Mary’s sister Linda Keun lived in the household and cared for the gardens and farm animals. This included 30-50 turkeys, bought as chicks that were fattened and slaughtered gradually through the year for Sunday lunches. Stanley and his wife’s 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms were in the wing of the house where the tower was situated and was a zone effectively out of bounds to all except them. In the garden there were over 100 benches of cast iron, high quality British imports of ‘Cornbrookdale’, each worth around £200 even then, but like all luxuries of the house, they have been lost to time.
Mabel Maud’s mother Mary was from the Keun family, established Levantines with Dutch background. Edward remembers mention of another member of the Keun family, Odette Keun, who was an outstanding journalist during WWI, moved around a lot and mixed in with people from political and influential circles. Though it was hushed up at the time, it was common knowledge that she was the mistress of H.G. Wells (War of the worlds fame), and they shared a hide-away house in Grasse, a town outside Cannes. She later ended up owning the house. She was adventurous, free-spirited and spoke in a Smyrna way, with an accent that mixed in Greek and French words.
Note: The internet informs us, that although a French writer, Odette Keun (1888-1978) was a Dutch citizen, her father having been charge d’affaires of the Netherlands legation in Constantinople (Istanbul) where she was born. She wrote a whole series of books, such as ‘My Adventures in Bolshevik Russia - 1923’, ‘I discover the English - 1934’, ‘Trumpets bray - 1943’ etc. A good flavour of her adventurous life is provided through an article from a local Tennessee, newspaper on-line:
During the war, ‘Blue’ married Michael Stevens, who became a group captain in the RAF during the Second World War, was awarded a DSO (Distinguished Service Order), 3 DFCs (Distinguished Flying Cross - gallantry in active service while flying) and bar. These were awarded for his exploits during the battle of Britain. Edward spent 2 or 3 weeks with the Stevens when he visited them in Istanbul (1946 or 47), where Mr Stevens worked as the air (military) attaché with the consulate and had become very fluent in Turkish. The couple had 2 children Nigel and Jacqueline, and ‘Blue’ died 4 year ago (2000). The former war hero, Michael later became a director with the firm Rolls-Royce but has unfortunately recently (23 Sept 2004) passed away and his obituary can be seen here.
Note: A section of this obituary notes: ‘He remained in Turkey for eight months  during which he flew operational patrols along the Bulgarian border. He twice intercepted Italian S-84 reconnaissance aircraft intruding across the border, and shot them down in a Turkish Hurricane, while wearing civilian clothes.’ Clearly there were officials in the Turkish military that well before the end of Turkish neutrality winked at the operations of their ‘unofficial’ allies, something that is not common knowledge even today - photo of a later batch of Hurricanes awaiting shipment.
Gerald Paterson had a flat at the fashionable Kinnerton street, Knightsbridge, London, to which Edward moved with his wife ‘Tish’ during WW2. Gerald died sometime in the 1980s.
A common feature of the Paterson household was their love of exaggerations, with fabricated or real stories elaborated over and over, to a point where the truth could no longer be distinguished from the fable. This was all done with a humorous and social frame of mind, a mindset shared by Mrs Paterson, and her children Gerald, Monica and Tish, but not by Blue or Mr Paterson. This gaiety made them very popular in the community, helping them make friends with some amazing people further afield too (Gerald was friendly with the photographer Cecil Beaton), and was not an unusual trait in the Levantine community at the time. Part of this poking fun spirit involved placing unwanted guests in a room reputed to be haunted. Edward recalls one day sitting out in the garden with one of the children, when the wife of a business associate (the Dowers according to Gwen Giraud) came to sit beside him. She had just spent the night in that room and expressed that she was not very happy with the atmosphere, even though they were on their honeymoon, and heard ‘queer noises’ during the night. Edward then repeated this to Monica Washburn, and she confirmed she had deliberately placed the lady in this room above the kitchen as she was aware of these noises.
Notes: 1- According to Paterson
descendant Lorin Washburn, the riddle has a simple explanation. ‘The
room in question was my mother’s bedroom after 1938 when my father died.
Yes it did have noises and if one did not know from where they came
I have no doubt someone could well be scared. Below that bedroom was
part of the kitchen and part was the boiler house. The boiler house
was very old fashioned and was tended by the ‘Kavas’ who shoveled coal
into it at various times of the day and even late into the evening.
This old boiler made the most incredible noises and well into the night.
In the quiet of the night these odd noises were magnified and anyone
not knowing their source would no doubt be terrified! Especially if
at dinner the night before and after several rakis he/she had been told
of ghosts etc.’
Stanley Paterson would normally come down 3 times a week from Bornova to his offices in the city, and the day to day running of operations was dealt with his manager, the Izmir Levantine from the Mainetti family. The Patersons had a country house near Fethiye, where Stanley would go occasionally to oversee the mining operations, however the later generations never went there. Within Fethiye town there was a street name Paterson, showing them to be big players in the area once.
During the return visits Mr de Jongh was able to re-establish friendly relationships with Levantines still living in Buca, and knew well many of the former residents who like him had made Athens their new home.
Of the former Anglo community of Buca he knew Oswald Barker, Mr Parkinson known as ‘Parky’ who worked for a tobacco company and who with his wife Winnie used to attend the many parties that was part of the social scene of Buca. Mr Walter Pengelley who worked for a tobacco company, emigrated to Rhodesia in the 1940s and with the experience in the tobacco trade he gained in Turkey, became a tobacco farmer there. In response to Edward commenting Pengelley did not sound like an English name, he was told it was of Cornish origin. Walter Pengelley also persuaded his nephew, who Edward met, but has forgotten his first name, a Stevenson (a British family also long resident in Boudjah) to go the Rhodesia together to become tobacco growers there.
Mrs Haydee Rees, was a Giraud and married the principal member of the Rees family, Johnnie, and together moved to South Africa during the war and later to Alexandria in Egypt. After her husband died she married one of the Barkers in Alexandria and with the Suez problems they moved to Lisbon. The last he heard the second husband had also died and she lived in London and has recently died. Haydee Rees’s daughter from her first marriage, Joan, married George Gordon, who was youngest of the sons of that generation. Mother and daughter were later to live near each other in Portugal. Joan currently lives on the Isle of Man. Joan’s brother Tom (Thomas Bowen) has researched his family background in detail and has publish a book on its history in 2003.
Mr de Jongh was also friendly with the couple Willie and Daphne Alberti, who lived in a house in Buca, quite close to the ‘Konak’ which was the name given by the community to the police station. Hence the house was also known as the ‘Konak house’. A former de Jongh house, where Mr de Jongh lived till he was 3 and his father was born, Mr de Jongh still has a drawing of it in his possession. According to information Edward got from his parents this house also hosted Lord Byron early in the 19th century, and like he seems to have done elsewhere, carved his name on the wall, that remained there for a good while but by the time Edward was born the room had been decorated and re-plastered. However on reflection Edward believes Lord Byron stayed in the house next door, the Gordon house, now the location of the riding school. Though Lord Byron had the same surname as this family he probably was not related. He wrote 2 poems there, ‘the Myrtle…’ and the Greek titled ‘Ela stoperivoli Haydee’ [come into the garden Haydee]. Edward feels either the Gordon house or the Konak house was probably the former Werry house, a family to which the Rees family are related. Edward also suspects that possibly it was Henry de Jongh’s father who bought the house from the Werrys and later it was sold on to the Alberti family. Around 20 years ago (1980s) the Albertis vacated this house and moved to Rome where Daphne Alberti who is still alive, had a mother with a home.
Note: The drawing of the Alberti house has features almost identical with the Baltacci (later Ispartaliyan) residence that is now a school. However the second tier had an all round balcony not present with the Baltacci house. The front ornamental pool feature is also similar in design apart from having a fountain feature on a pedestal rather than a statue as was still standing within the school. The similarities suggest a similar period of building.
The building today still exists, but the fountain feature was removed by Daphne Alibert’s mother, Ruby (nee Whittall) Zandonati (last member of that family, and a person Edward is friendly with), to her house in Bornova in the 1970s where it might still be.
Note: Whittall family tree shows that Ruby Gladys Whittall (born 1907) married first Gerald Wookey, who is the father of Daphnee Aliberti, and her second marriage was with Rodolfo de Zandonati.
Mr de Jongh living in Athens knew many of the émigrés from Boudjah, such as the Forbes who had moved to the neighbourhood of Kifissia just before the fire in the early 20s, ‘lock stock and barrel’ and built themselves an English style stately home complete with stag heads on the walls. Edward remembers seeing the couple frequently, however he had no real conversation with them as they were older than him and mixed in different circles. They had no children. The later widowed Mrs Forbes lived in America during the war. Their yacht was one of the sea going vessels, such as Greek steamers used by the British embassy in the evacuation of British citizens in Athens ahead of the advancing German columns. However the Germans caught up with the yacht as it lay in harbour on the Aegean island of Milos (half way between Athens and Crete) and watched by people from land including Forbes’s family friend, Lulu Keyser, was dive-bombed by Stukas and sunk, thus stranding the passengers on the island before inhabitants who saw the affair from a neighbouring island rescued them. History does not record whether the crew were on board the yacht and if they were killed by the bombs or if any diplomatic papers being carried also went down with the craft. Within a year (1941), Lulu had reached British-controlled Cairo and later after much difficulty due to war time conditions, joined Mrs Forbes in Washington. The Forbes travelled frequently, always together, and spent the war years in Canada and USA. The Scottish David Forbes died in his 70s, sometime after WWII, but Edward does not know when or where, but is certain it was not in Greece.
Note: From the Internet we learn the Anglo-Greek defeat was rapid, German invasion started on the 6th of April 1941, by the 27th Athens was occupied and by the 11th of May the occupation of the Greek islands in the Aegean was complete. However from the account above, it seems minor islands like Milos were overlooked.
The Keysers were a well-to-do family who sent their boys to King’s College, Canterbury (top Anglican church school of Britain) for training. Lulu Keyser’s aunt Agnes was a nurse matron who at one time was the girlfriend of Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward who succeeded her. As a result of this affection in the late Victorian era, Prince Edward (king 1901-19) built her a hospital, and still known as the King Edward VIIth Hospital in London and still patronised by the privileged and royalty. Edward believes there is still a plaque and photo of this Keyser within the hospital.
Note: The full title of this hospital includes Agnes Keyser’s name and recently a book has been published under ‘Edward VII’s last loves – Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser – by Raymond Lamont-Brown, Sutton publishing – 1998’. A synopsis of this book gives us a glimpse of the circumstances, ‘... fun-loving Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. Agnes Keyser, daughter of a prominent member of the Stock exchange, defied social expectations by not marrying, instead becoming involved in hospital charity work. Her twelve-year relationship with the king was much less in the public eye, but was just as important.’ Details on:
When Lulu Keyser died of cancer in her 80s, the property in Athens was inherited by her sister Elsie. Nephew Teddy Whittall asked Mr de Jongh to keep an eye on the place while trying to sell house and contents. The rare and valuable heads of stags shot by the Forbes family at various Turkish and Caucusus mountains went as a bargain to a Greek gentleman, however Mr de Jongh was able to rescue a battered photograph album from this same family, still in his possession, though he doesn’t know when the faded photos were taken. However the locations are marked in pencil and are spread across a geography that included Ephesus, Smyrna, Constantinople, the Boudjah road, Dardanelles, Sokia (location of one of his liquorice plants), Zonguldak (coal mining centre on the Black Sea), Alexandretta (Iskenderun, a port near Syria and another liquorice plant site), Rhodes, lake Lugano in Switzerland, Beirut, Batum, the military road in Georgia, Baku and Grozny, Mytilini, the Black Sea showing how extensively Mr Forbes travelled in pursuit of his business interests, pleasure and hunting. Note: There is a slight possibility that the Georgia trip was done at the instigation of the British Foreign office, worried about the power vacuum left there by the collapse of Russian control post WWI (if that is the period of the photographs). The Boudjah photograph shows the railway line snaking in the empty foreground and a small village that Boudjah was in the second half of the 19th century or early 20th. There is a revealing set of 6 photographs showing the port of Smyrna with the bay full of ships and one annotated in the slightly incorrect Turkish of ‘Bucali’ for the road leading up to Boudjah. There is a distinct possibility that some of these photos were taken before David Forbes’ time possibly by his father (William?) or even his grandfather (Edward? George King?). A series of Baku photographs showing long lines of men in traditional tunics celebrating the festival of Muharrem (first month of the Muslim year), points to a time before the Bolshevik revolution came to the region in 1921, after which such religious displays would have almost certainly been banned. The Sokia (Söke) photographs are particularly interesting as they show the shed like buildings that was the liquorice factory there as well as an attractive house showing the Forbes had more in property than their Boudjah house. The lady visible in many of the photos in long dress and hat attire, helping to roughly date the picture (1890-1914?), is probably his wife.
Notes: 1- My recent investigation
in to the Sokia factory shows that the old people remember the property
being pulled down long ago, that was in the outskirts of the town, however
the neighbourhood, now ‘Kemal Paşa’, is still unofficially known
as the ‘Forbes mahallesi’. It is interesting to note that the
high street of Şirinyer, Izmir that leads on to Buca, was until recently known as ‘Forbes yolu’,
a name the population still prefers.
All these photos almost certainly predate the Forbes’ move to Athens in around 1920, after which the business was run by his men on the ground. During the 1930s a wide range of foreign visitors came to Mr Forbes, virtually all non-Levantines. The only major exception was Mr Rudolf Fidao, a close friend who shared his interest in hunting. He was an Austrian and had married May Whittall (1903) and some of their 6 offspring were friends of Edward.
Note: Edward believes the Fidao name is Spanish in origin, but I learned from Rudolf Fidao’s granddaughter, Denise Outlaw, that it is Italian as the family came from Trieste, and had Austrian nationality as it was then part of the Austrian empire. One of the small islands off-shore Trieste, is still heavily populated by Fidaos, a word roughly meaning faithful. The family were originally ship builders, and in Smyrna Rudolf had tobacco plantations that traded under the name of F. Fidao and Co., so probably established by his father Frederick Fidao, who married Isabel Browning the sister of the famous Victorian poet Robert Browning. The powerful American tobacco company tried to buy off Rudolf, but he was a man who cherished his independence, so the sale never happened. During WWII, Rudolf and May Fidao stayed in Athens during the evacuation, but were later able to escape to India. This was also the period when the tobacco business essentially ended. One of Rudolf’s sons, the now late Richard was able to trace the family tree back to the 18th century, but couldn’t go back any further as the records kept in the Trieste, church had burnt down long ago. Mrs Outlaw was able to confirm that Rudolf did indeed participate in Mr Forbes’ boar hunting expeditions in Albania, as Rudolf’s brother, ‘uncle Fritz’ had his Linz home decorated with boar and other animal trophy heads - further information on the Fidao name and family.
Mr de Jongh’s book case contains a collection of books showing Mr Forbes
was well read. Unlike the false airs of many other Levantines, David
Forbes was a true intellectual, and those books still in Edward’s possession
all have a sticker on the inside
cover bearing his name with a logo. The oldest book is ‘History
of the Turks – Richard Knolles, 1638’, and other treasures include:
Mr Forbes also had a good collection of paintings in good taste, such as the ‘Napolitan water colours’, 2 of which are now in the possession of Edward’s son Nicholas. Mr Forbes was the most prominent Englishman in Athens and probably the wealthiest. He was no longer involved in the day to day running of his liquorice empire. Previously Mr de Jongh jokingly mused that the horns of the stag heads were a perfect disguise to smuggle gold pounds out of Turkey, which other Levantines did not find amusing. How these Levantine families were able to ship out their funds is a mystery to this day. However he knows of a prominent case of a less well-to-do Levantine arrested for sewing a few gold coins into his shoes, which were duly confiscated. This gentleman was of Italian nationality and was married to Iris Whittall, Eddie Whittall’s eldest daughter. Because of the poor job done in concealment by his Turkish shoemaker friend, they left Turkey just before the Second World War in complete poverty to Italy where family fortunes turned from bad to worse. Iris Whittall is a year older than Mr de Jongh and continues to live in a care home in Wales.
Note: From the ‘Whittall’ family tree, we are informed that the daughter of Edward Sidney Whittall, Iris’s (b.1914) first marriage was to Yvo Issaverdens (d.1943) who may have had Italian nationality but was from ‘Persian Catholic’ background.
20 years ago (1980s) in Greece Mr de Jongh met Christopher Tower, whose father used to work for the British Embassy in Istanbul. Christopher was fortunate enough to inherit several fortunes, had a flat overlooking the Acropolis, being gay never married, was a poor writer but could afford to have his novels published and revelled in the image. He also had an impressive collection of prints and paintings of old Istanbul. Since Mr de Jongh lost touch with him he doesn’t know what became of this collection. About 3 years ago (1999) he heard Mr Tower had died in England. There is a youthful pen sketch of Cynthia, the mother of Christopher Tower, Edward was told belongs to her, as she was a beauty in her day and modelled for the pre-Raphaelites. Years later Edward was able to recognise the same portrait sold as a post-card in the shop of the Tate Gallery and the painting was performed by Herbert, a well known painter. A de Jongh married into the Tower family in Istanbul and their descendants live in the USA.
Another Levantine writer was Mr Ray Turrell who wrote a book on Smyrna, which was republished in England, in the 1980s. Mr de Jongh suspects the publication was financed through the gentleman. He had met him during the war years in London, though his wife was closer to Mr Turrell who was a close relation of the Whittalls. Mr de Jongh believes this former Bornova gentleman is now dead. The title of the book is ‘Scrap Book 1809-1922’, published in the UK in 1987, dealing with the history of the Bornova community, with a series of vignettes of life in the village, accompanied by pen and ink drawings - segment.
Mr Charles Missir a gentleman of Persian origin lived in Boudjah and was alive in 1922. He was a merchant in dried fruit, owned the Opera house and theatres in the city and was married to an Austrian lady, Julia Heller, with whom he sired 4 daughters. Of these Hilda married Henry de Jongh (son of Henry de Jongh, Edward’s uncle), she later died in Belgium and he in England and they are survived by a daughter, Marian (Verkerk). Winnie married William Parkinson ‘Parky’ and had two children, named Charles and Anne. Elsie married the aristocratic Baron Eugene Aliotti from Boudjah, and had a son, Richard, now resident in America. The youngest, Mollie married an American, William Martin with whom she has 3 daughters and now lives in the USA.
Note: Mr Livio Missir, resident in Belgium confirmed the above details and added that Charles James Missir who became a naturalised American, was born in Boudjah in 1869, died there 1927, married in 1903 Julia Heller (1883-1964), ran the firm ‘Fig Packers’, 2 ice factories, and ‘Theatre de Smyrne’ on the waterfront. Businesses and theatre were heavily affected by the 1922 fire and after his death the fig business passed on to a Turkish gentleman ‘Riza’. The remains of the theatre house were finally pulled down in 1950.
Edward has a relatively recent Greek newspaper (TA Nea) cutting showing the photograph of this former Smyrna opera house, and according to the text, this building built in 1917 had an interior that was an exact replica of the Paris opera house in miniature. Edward reflects that the Bornobat and Boudjah communities never seem to have frequented this venue, presumably a result of snobbish isolation.
Note: Views of the elaborate interior of the Paris opera house can be seen in the web site:
A first cousin of Baron Eugene Aliotti was Joe Aliotti who became quietly rich through the 1930s and 40s whose son Flavio had to go into hiding in Greece during World War II following Italy’s defeat, later returning to Italy in the late 40s. His first cousin, also called Flavio Aliotti emigrated from Smyrna to Australia in the late 50s, and later returned to Italy. The Aliottis were a numerous family and some of the names Edward remembers are Guidio who married a Smyrna girl, and Maria, whose husband died early. Edward would tease members of the Aliotti family saying that they were not Italians, but from Chios, thus the name ‘allos Chiotis’ (Greek for another from Chios). Chios unlike many Aegean islands was a Genoese not Venetian possession prior to Ottoman rule, and the Greek corruption may have been assigned to this Latin family then. Edward is also aware that there was in the past an Aliotti club in Punta, and this is referred to in the classic book covering the Greek catastrophe of 1922, by the Izmir born author Dido Sotiriou, ‘Farewell Anatolia’.
Note: As a classic piece of historical drama, the book has spawned the “Dido Sotiriou” cultural prize, which is awarded every year to a foreign or Greek writer whose work promotes communication between peoples and cultures through cultural diversity. Ms. Sotiriou was awarded in 1990 Greece’s highest honour for a writer, the prize of the Athens academy, but recently (Sept 23 2004) passed away aged 95 and there are a few on-line obituaries.
Mr de Jongh has 2 original prints, one showing the mountain beyond Buca, Nifdağ, (looking onto Bornova where good cherries used to grow), originally in the possession of his father’s brother, Brian de Jongh, who died 20 years ago (1980s) and given as a gift to him by the writer and friend, Steven Runciman, an authority on the crusades (‘A history of the crusades – Cambridge - 1951-54’). Again through the family, another picture that has come down is an Ottoman scene depicting the ‘spoils of war’ post what looks like a successful Balkan campaign.
Notes: 1- Percy Brian de Jongh
(1912-1977) was the youngest of Henry and Dora’s offspring.
The second shows the harbour of Smyrna in the 17th century, with Dutch text, given by Paola Bradley, a de Jongh descendant. Edward feels that Brian de Jongh is the only Smyrna Levantine writer worthy of merit who published the ‘Companion guide to Southern Greece’ in 1972 that he still retains a copy of and he feels is still readable and relevant today. Brian de Jongh also left behind a series of photos printed on ‘roll paper’, which are unfortunately unmarked, but I have partly scanned and re-established some of the locations from my knowledge of the sites of present day Izmir, such as the distinctive Roman aqueduct over Yeşildere, Alsancak station, Boudjah railway line, Boudjah station, old Boudjah (possibly) and old Smyrna. The images captured in these photos seem to be too old for Brian de Jongh’s time and are probably an inheritance from his father Henry de Jongh or grandfather Edward Purser. Like many of the British residents of the city, Brian de Jongh was an intelligence officer in Smyrna and Egypt all through the war.
Note: From an on-line archive newspaper, the London Gazette 20-July-1943, we see that part of Brian de Jongh’s cover for these operations seems to have been a ‘clerk at the British consulate, Smyrna’, and it was clearly this period in which he acquired his British citizenship.
The Germans had nothing to compare with this extensive intelligence network, however the German ambassador to Turkey, Franz von Papen, was allowed to operate in his own capacity, not a Nazi, but a German of the old school who had visions he could take over power in Germany by turning a blind eye on all activities. Finally through Brian de Jongh, Edward has inherited lithographs cut long ago from books, almost certainly given in that condition to Brian, featuring the depiction of various Ottoman palace officials. One shows an ‘Ich oglan’ [palace eunuch?] and the latter, a palace official, named Baltacı, in charge of the princes held in the Ottoman palace.
Mr de Jongh’s great grandfather was the railway engineer, Edward Purser (Henry de Jongh senior married his daugher Dora Purser) and in Mr de Jongh’s possession is an extract of the list of merchants who banded together to commission a portrait painting of this influential engineer, ‘painted by Mr G.E. Tuson’. The now framed list (32) is an indicator of the powerful Levantines of the time, including: Charlton Whittall, J.B. Patterson, W. Forbes (David’s father), Jack F. Hanson, Robert Cumberbatch, T.B. Rees, James & Edward McCraith, P.R. Gout, C. Van Lennep, A. Barker, S.J. Cooke, W. Mirzan, F. Papworth, J. D’Allesio, W. Shotton, W. Scott Ferguson, H. Fotherby, J. Waster, and a few Greek and Armenian names. The fate of the portrait is something of a mystery though last he heard it was tucked away in somebody’s cellar. Strangely the portrait was very disliked by all members of the family and Mr de Jongh regrets that virtually none of the Levantines of today take pride or interest in their past. He is aware that Jack Hanson’s namesake son was also involved in railways. The junior was a friend and frequent guest of Mr de Jongh’s parents’ house. Jack Hanson jr had 2 daughters as Edward recalls, one named Doreen (slightly older than Edward) who later married, and the whole family left Smyrna with the hospital ship the ‘Maine’, after which he doesn’t know where they went.
Note: There is a Hanson family tree viewable in the British museum library, but there are no details of the Smyrna branch of this family, which possibly the above named persons represented, viewable here:. However the Hanson of Smyrna, a James is mentioned in the family papers partially transcribed here, but the fact that he only had daughters suggests that Jack Hanson was not of this line, or not even related.
Edward however has a photo of Edward Purser with wife and 2 young girls (presumably Sarah and Frances “Anna”) at their feet, taken in front of the farmhouse on land in Aziziye he owned. Mr Purser came to Turkey in his early 40s and estimating the age of the children in the photo, Mr de Jongh estimates an age of 47 for Mr Purser and since we know his birth date from his tombstone, an estimate for the date of the photo is 1868. Edward Purser and wife Sophia had 3 children, eldest Dora who is the grandmother of Edward, Anna who married Edgar Giraud and Sara who married Donald Andrus and went to Canada.
Note: The ‘Whittall’ family tree informs us that Anna Purser married Edgar Giraud (1871-1950), had 9 children from this union, and died 1946.
Mr Purser was known as ‘Monsieur’ by the train drivers in respectful manner, pronounced in a Turkish style of mösyö, though he had odd habits such as walking on the railway line all the way from Boudjah where he had a second house to Smyrna, though no harm came of it as the drivers knew the time he would do this walk. Edward Purser also had a nephew, James who was also involved with the railways.
Edward Purser also features in an oil painting (painter unknown), now in the possession of a descendant, Andrew Bradley, depicting a day trip to the ruins of Ephesus with an entourage of camels and donkeys.
The Purser family past is well documented. John Purser, a brewer, was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire around 1730. He composed a recipe for black beer or porter which became famous in later years in Ireland as Guinness Stout. In early life he moved to London. Around 1776, after being widowed, he went to Dublin with his three sons and got employment as a “journeyman brewer”. On a trip to Cork in 1781 he fell ill and died before reaching his destination. His son John (Primus) and grandson John (Secundus) who both worked in the Arthur Guinness firm eventually became partners in 1820. The family continued the partnership for 3 generations, however the last generation, like his father and grandfather named John Purser (Tertius), objected to Sunday drinking in pubs as he was a religious man. As a result he left the business, and the Pursers’ later venture into flour milling ended in failure. It was this John Purser’s brother Edward who chose an engineering profession and who is described above. Mr de Jongh has in his possession pen drawings of all these 4 Pursers done by John Purser’s (Tertius) niece Sarah Purser who was an accomplished artist and who specialised in painting on glass and portraits. Ms Purser also did a portrait of Maud Gonne, the Irish heroine whom she knew well, and a copy of which Edward has. Sarah Purser (1848-1943) was very much within the scene of the Irish revival, and knew many of the prominent players such as W. B. Yeats, one of the leading English language poets, and his younger brother Jack Butler Yeats, a leading Irish painter of the 20th century.
A British family Mr de Jongh knew were the Peartrees who were involved in tobacco and lived in Boudjah. Stanley Peartree married Marie-Louise from the Bornova De Cramer family, and they lived in that neighbourhood before later moved to Athens and later to America, the country of her by then late husband, where her daughter lived. Like many of the old families they had (sold about 10 years ago) a summerhouse in Ilıca (~90 km to the west of the town), though then always referred to by all in its Greek name of ‘Lice’. Mr de Jongh believes this Levantine tradition and some of the old folk there in the summer still haven’t died away.
A former Boudjah resident was Mr Guiffray who had married a Werry, and
Mr de Jongh met them years later during the 1930s in their villa to
the place they had emigrated to and later died at, Mytilene [archive views], the capital
of the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Guiffray villa was large, old and rather neglected, typical of the
residences in the old residential part of the town of a rich community
that had mostly emigrated to Athens by then. Former fellow Smyrna resident
Nat Barker who was related maternally to the Werrys, lived between his
wanderings (in a small cumbersome fishing craft) in a ‘packing box’
outside the villa. Nat Barker was a cousin to Oswald Barker and cousin
to Willie Rees, was an ‘amusing character’ who lived in Greece for a
while and married an Irish girl, Moira whom he had met in Mytilene,
but died after the war. During the war Nat Barker served in the British
army as a major, later he bought a decent yacht and with it enjoyed
his passion for the sea by sailing the Aegean. He later took a job with
a Greek ship owner and remarried a Greek girl and Willie Rees assisted
in the raising of their son. 15 years ago (late 1980s) Mr Nat Barker
died of cancer in London.
A Boudjah family were the Gandons, brothers Cecil, Kenneth and sister Phoebe, and their father and Kenneth were involved in the Smyrna gas company [recent photos of the site]. Edward knows that after WWI, Kenneth worked for a gas company in London. This family were friends and related to the de Jonghs. Kenneth married Mollie de Jongh, sister of Edward de Jongh’s father, and had one son John Gandon who recently revised Brian de Jongh’s guide to Greece, and lives in Kent.
Note: John Gandon was kind enough
to send me newspaper obituaries of his grandfather John Gandon on which the following
information is based. John Gandon died aged 54 while he was still the
engineer and manager of the Ottoman gas company, to which position he
was appointed in 1890, succeeding Mr H. W. Andrews, who then became
consulting engineer in London to the company. After his education he
became a pupil of his father, Charles Gandon, at the then Crystal palace
district gas company. He had left Smyrna the year before for Athens
for business reasons, but couldn’t return because of the naval blockade
in effect during WWI. He therefore came to England, leaving his eldest
son, Cecil in charge of the works at Smyrna. His younger son, Kenneth,
was engaged at the south suburban gas company works. His widow, Catherine
Louisa died in 1934. From an earlier generation, that of James Gandon, notes that the Gandons were descendants of Huguenot refugees,
an interestingly common occurence in the Anglo-Levantine community.
Note: From Yolande Whittall’s family tree (section XIII), we see that George Gordon, of Alexandria married Muriel Whittall in 1905, and of their 3 children (Hope, Douglas), the youngest was his namesake son (born 1917, married 1943), who himself had 3 children with Haydee Joan Rees.
One of the Gordon sisters married the England based Lord Catto who was the governor of the bank of England during and after WWII, and also a prominent businessman with trading activities such as with ‘Andrew Yule’, the commodities company from the far East, putting it amongst the top 100 British companies. Lady Catto was president of Women’s Volunteer Service during WWII. Some of the Whittalls benefited from this connection with good jobs, such as the Austrian Richard Fidao whose mother (May) was a Whittall, and was the manager of the India section during WWII.
Note: From the Internet we are informed that, Lord Catto of Cairncotto CBE was governor of the bank of England between 1944-1949. From the Internet we are informed that, ‘Andrew Yule’ was started in the 1800s and the Cattos still have a stake in the company.
The sister of Lady Catto, Murial married a Whittall.
The Cumberbatch were an old Smyrna family some of whose members became British consuls in Izmir, and Cynthia Hill, who Mr de Jongh knows from Athens, had a Cumberbatch mother, and the Hill family were prominent in Athens. This lady continues to live in Greece and Richmond in London.
Another former Smyrna family were the Hadkinsons who Mr de Jongh believes represented locally an insurance company (Royal Exchange). The last he heard, Mr Henry Hadkinson, a contemporary of his, lived in Paris and 10 years ago his name was still in the telephone directory.
Smyrna born Ladislav ‘Lalo’ de Jabo, was a charming person who made his home in Athens after the fire. Prior to that, the family were involved in running a shopping arcade off Frank street, in downtown Smyrna. He was also employed by the American tobacco company and when he moved to Greece, he was for many years a manager in that company. His sisters took great pride (full of airs) in their Polish and supposedly aristocratic roots despite being English speakers, one Yvonne was a spinster and the other Marika married an American named Morris, who was later to become consul-general in Greece.
Edward remembers talk of the 3 beautiful girls of the Löchner family, who would have been his parents’ age. 1 of them married a German background Siefelder, brought up in Smyrna but who lived in Athens later. Siefelder’s mother married one of the richest men in Greece, though not an aristocrat, by the name of Retsina. Siefelder and Löchner has a son Herbert Siefelder who was a good friend of Edward, and he later moved to Corfu, and later contact was lost.
Another Boudjah family were the Reeds who were related to the Blacklers and Patersons. The later two families were also directly related. Daphne Manussis who was nee a Blackler, and a close friend of the Tower family, inherited the Blackler house in Kiffissa near Athens and continued to live in the summer on the island of Skiathos, until her recent passing in 2004.
Note: The father of Daphne Manussis, Willie Blackler, sold up the Buca property for good around 1950 (date according to neighbour Antoine Karakulak), as he lived since 1922 in Kiffissa except during WWII when they were in South Africa.
Mr de Jongh was extremely fond of Willie and Va Blackler, and remembers well in the 1930s piling in their even then old Talbot car to picnic on the Marathon side of Attica (Athens county). Willie Blackler was related to the Patersons and their daughter Daphnee and and the late wife of Mr de Jongh, Mable were distant cousins through the Reed family. He remembers last seeing Mr Blackler in Kenya in 1948 where he was venturing in a Coca-cola bottling plant, in which Mr de Jongh was not able to become a partner, as he could not get a visa. Edward believes the Barff family of Boudjah, a family only familiar to him in name, were also related to the Blacklers.
Edward observes that there were ‘masses’ of people with non-Greek names living in Athens, such as the famous actress Melina Mercuri, an Italian surname, yet her grand-father was an imposing mare of Athens, and her father was a left wing minister in parliament. Presumably of German origin, ‘Taki’ (pet name of his Dimitros) Horn was the best known actor in his time (about 6 years Edward’s junior), and considered by everybody including Edward as Greek. His brother Yannis ran the English newspaper, ‘the Athens news’. The Smyrna Italians the Baltazzis were also considered Greek, as well as the Carere (uncorrupted name probably Carrara, friends of Edward’s parents) family who moved from Smyrna to Corfu after WWI. The Negropontes, one of whose descendants (John Negroponte) has occupied key positions in the American government, were Latins from the Black sea (Odessa?), but were already Greek when they had moved to Greece. Even the very un-Greek sounding surname De Jongh was considered by the natives to be a Greek name, albeit pronounced somewhat differently. Edward feels in contrast to the Smyrna Levantines, the relatively small gap in the religion with the natives allowed for an efficient assimilation (most with time became Orthodox), preventing the development of a Levantine culture in Greece.
Another Boudjah émigré was Alec Issigonis whose father and the father of Mr de Jongh, Eddie, were close friends and shared a passion of up keeping their great gardens in Boudjah, for which no expense was spared including importing Italian gardeners. Alec Issigonis came to the UK worked for the Morris motor company, designed the Morris minor car, for which he was knighted (1969) and his biography has been published as a book (‘Alec Issigonis’ written by Andrew Nahum and published by the design council in 1988). He died a bachelor within the past 15 years (1988 Birmingham).
Note: The Internet informs us, Alec Issigonis – designer, engineer, visionary – was born in Smyrna 1906, his father was a naturalised British subject of Greek descent who had married the daughter of a wealthy Bavarian brewer with a branch brewery in Smyrna, ran a marine engineering business with his brother and Alec soon developed a talent for this subject. In the evacuation following the fire, Alec’s father died en route in Malta and the family arrived in 1922 in a destitute state in England. Later on in the early 40s, Issigonis designed the Morris minor, which first ran in 1947 and within 11 years 1 million were sold, the first British car to pass that mark. Connected to his love of working in a small team, he was dubbed the ‘ironmonger’, and his motto, now somewhat part of the English language, was ‘less is more’. In 1959 he designed the ‘Mini’, the first sketch supposedly on a table cloth in a restaurant waiting for the service, and is still in production after more than 30 years. Originally designed in response to the Suez energy crisis (1956) and the popularity of Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle, the boxy, inexpensive, fuel efficient Mini used a traverse engine to power its front wheels, a radical design at the time, and thus could comfortably seat 4 passengers despite being only 3 m. long. By the late 1980s more than 5 million had been sold. Even today the altered version of this car is in full production in Britain and was voted car of the year in the Detroit car show of 2003 (Jan), a first for Britain in this venue. More details and portrait photo on & here. From a Turkish web site we are informed that an ‘Issigonis’ steel works was founded in Punta in 1854, probably the same family. According to another web site Alec Issigonis is credited with introducing the word ‘mini’ to the English language, a word used extensively in the following decade to indicate the shortness of a skirt.
Mr de Jongh was also acquainted with some members of the Smyrna émigrés who made Beirut their new home. A gentleman from the Joly family, whose first name escapes him, ran one of the British companies there, a dealership for the agricultural vehicles firm John Deere. The last time they met was at the initial stages of the Lebanese civil war, and Mr Joly told him that unlike other expatriates he would stay. One of those who left was the late Ogusta ‘Gus’ Catonis whose related descendants, the Beards, still run the ‘Catoni’ haulage firm in Istanbul (web site includes information on family history). Hugh Beard ran the Alexandretta (İskenderun) branch of the McAndrew’s and Forbes liquorice factory between around 1920 and post WWII. Mr Beard had a house in Alexandretta and Beirut, where the rest of the Beard family had moved to post 1922. After WWII and at least till 1950s the fine house in Alexandretta was used as a base for family holidays. The grandson of the Hugh, Jonathan Beard, still resides in Istanbul. Edward spent a night at the Beards house in 1947, while visiting that port city.
Note: France had an interest in the strategically important port of Alexandretta which together with Antioch was a protectorate which after a plebiscite descided to join Turkey in 1939.
In the 1990s Edward enquired in a library on a book by the former Bornova resident Cecil Cadoux. He knew that the gentleman kept notes on Smyrna and his Boudjah family past, and a name matching his was in the London phone book. However he was somewhat disappointed when the book turned out to be of a religious nature. Nevertheless Mr de Jongh has the gentleman’s previous book in his collection, ‘Ancient Smyrna’ published in Oxford 1938, in which he expressed his wish to publish a book on recent Smyrna, a wish that seems to have not been realised.
Another friend of Mr de Jongh’s family was Louisa Langdon who married Reggie Stokes who worked for the successful Oriental Carpet Manufacturers company before 1922. After this period the company was relocated to Greece where he continued to work for it as a manager until the business packed up in the 1930s. Reggie had 2 very pretty daughters, Winnie and the younger being Margaret and Winnie married an army officer during the war years. They lived in London during the war and had a pretty terrace house in Chelsea off King’s Road. The last Mr de Jongh knew, Second World War years, Reggie lived in a humble house at Hatchend in London. Another Levantine associated with the oriental carpet manufacturers was Albert De Portu, who was 2 or 3 years older than Edward, and was brought up as an Englishman and sent to Oxford to study. The De Portu family was very wealthy and they had offices in London, and a beautiful villa on the quay at Smyrna. Albert married one of the Fidao twins and they lived in Monaco. Last time Edward saw Mr De Portu was around 40 years ago in Monte Carlo, by which time he had made a permanent move out of Smyrna. Thus the De Portu family was one of the few Levantines to remain in Smyrna till the 1950/60s.
Note: From the Fidao family tree,
formerly (2003-5) placed on-line by Lloyd Fidao, we see that Albert
De Portu (born 1912) married Peachi Fidao, and they had 3 children.
Peachi (didn’t have a twin, but an elder sister) was the daugher of
Smyrna born Joseph Fidao (1882-1970) and Dagmar Jedermann, and Joseph
was one of the 8 children of Charles Fidao (1838-1922) and Marchesa
Maria Giustiani. Charles in turn was one of the 4 offspring of Andre
Fidao (1803-1871), the first Fidao to settle in Smyrna who married a
local lady, Anna Mirzan.
A prominent character of the post 1922 British community was Alithea Whittall. The strength of character of this lady is confirmed by Edward de Jongh who personally knew this lady to which like many others he was devoted. She was a great raconteur and initially started nursing voluntarily in earthquake zones in Turkey, an amazing feat of bravery for a Western lady in those days, and no doubt unlike many of her community knew enough Turkish to get by. Asked by Edward how her party of volunteers relieved themselves on the long train journeys to the hinterland, as in those days on-board toilets didn’t feature, she explained melon sellers were at most stops, and these when hollowed out made perfect receptacles, which could then be jettisoned out of the window to dispose of its new contents. Her feisty ways were revealed to Edward when she brazenly walked across the customs officials in Alexandretta in the 1940s with a diamond studded broach on her dress, clearly against the strict regulations as her companion in that long train journey from Izmir had to remove the few bits of gold, before going abroad. Alithea was from the British Williamson family of Smyrna and had married Fred Whittall in his older age, the only rich local Whittall with interests in Ceylon such as transport (prestigiously representing P&O) and tea. The Whittalls there had Scottish partners, the Urquhart family, and Edward was able to stay in touch with Alistair Urquhart who had like him later emigrated to Australia, becoming a successful stock broker. Edward last met up with Alithea in 1948 in their summer house in Troodos mountains in Cyprus, a mountain ski resort with idyllic views. Edward believes Alithea and her sister Grace were relations of his mother, who referred to these ladies as aunt, however he hasn’t been able to establish a definite link yet.
Notes: 1- From the Whittall family
tree book, page 68, we see that Frederick James Whittall married (his
second) Alithea Williamson in 1922.
Another Smyrna born London resident and friend of Mr de Jongh, is the recently late (died May 2002, aged 90s), Teddy Whittall who was the London manager of the Van der Zee shipping line.
Edward de Jongh spent the period of the Second World War as a volunteer in the Princess Irene Brigade that represented the Free Dutch Forces that fought alongside the Allies. Amongst the photographs in Edward’s collection is one showing him in uniform with Prince Bernard of Holland beside, visiting the unit in their base in England in the summer of 1943. In the ensuing long conversation between these two, the Prince mentioned he was aware of the presence of the De Jongh family in the Levant, and indicated that a distant ancestor was a member of the Levant (Dutch) Company. However Edward cannot find sources to place a name to this De Jongh, and suspects the Dutch Levant Company connection is not founded.
A comrade of Edward in the Princes Irene brigade, whom he was close to, was Teddy van der Zee. The Van der Zee family were well established in Egypt with the ‘Euxine shipping company’ that ran cruise ships along the Nile, where they made their money and they had branches in Athens and Smyrna, where they were also merchants. Teddy’s mother was Janet who was a Giraud (the other offspring being daughter Wendy), and Janet was the daughter of Anna Purser (grandmother De Jongh’s sister). Teddy did not stay long in the brigade as he applied for the air force, however he died almost immediately after he got his permit to fly. Ida Beard, who had a flat in Hammersmith, London was very kind to all Smyrna recruits, who looked up to her as a mother figure. She gave shelter in her flat to Teddy, Edward and his wife, and others and it broke her heart when the charming Teddy died. Geoffrey de Jongh, the son of Eric de Jongh, also applied to the air force was also killed, again not in combat but in an air crash. Unfortunately Geoffrey had married shortly before and his heartbroken wife was carrying a baby when he died. The child, Geoffrey David de Jongh, grew up to be a charming man who worked for a chemical company in Holland. Edward also considered applying for the air force but the shockingly high mortality rate, made him give up the idea. Ida’s son Hugh was in education during the early stages of the war, but towards the end, he joined the air force. A cousin of Edward, Emeric de Jongh was also in the Brigade but spent the war as a guard soldier for the Dutch consulate in the Vatican. A name Edward remembers from the brigade was ‘Turco’ Westerling, a Dutch Levantine from Istanbul, with whom Edward was able to speak in Smyrna Greek. He served as a commando and on a special mission to post-war Indonesia, against nationalistic rebels but also outside the remit of orders; he raised a personal army from local recruits, causing front line news in Holland, as he was good at his job but also tough enough to carry out executions. Edward met his very pretty wife who was a war nurse caring for him when convalescing from a non-war injury in a hospital in the English midlands, but noticed she was sick with worry as Raymond Westerling ignored her for months, not informing her of his whereabouts.
Eric de Jongh, the son of Oscar John de Jongh, was a charming, outgoing person with a sense of humour and the most popular de Jongh in Smyrna, highly thought of in business who worked for a time for the Reeses. Eric originally married in the 1910s, but divorced before WWII, a lady from Smyrna of Armenian background, Eva Sadjian, a lady of extraordinary beauty, with whom he had 2 children, Geoffrey and Winifred. Eva accompanied the British Attaché to Greece and his wife in the evacuation of that country in WWII, and would mesmerize onlookers with her sultry dark looks even in early morning rising out of her tent in Crete, on route to Egypt. She later remarried an American diplomat, Arthur Parsons. They were very well connected and were private friends to the King of Greece and his wife. Eva remained a great friend of mine until she died. Her funeral was very sad. The Greek Government gave her a great funeral as she was the mother-in-law of a Skouras. Winnie de Jongh married the Greek named Thanos Skouras, whose brother was a rich Greek cinema moghul, however during the German occupation of Greece, he was rounded up in a group of 17, held hostage and shot as the Germans considered him an enemy. Winnie continues to live in Greece and California, spending most of her time in Corfu, where she has a beautiful villa.
On his return to Izmir just after the Second World War, Mr de Jongh was aware of a tiny community of Greeks who had returned to the city though he estimates the number couldn’t have exceeded 100 families. One of the Greeks most popular amongst the community of Boudjah was Dimitro Defterigo, who was a friend of Mr de Jongh’s father. Together with his wife Marianthe, they ran the local restaurant (pre 1922) known locally as the ‘lokanta’ (Turkish / Italian word for restaurant) together with a hotel and their only son named Mano. The establishment was named after him, as ‘Manoli’. Mano married a member of the rich and local aristocratic Baltacci family and together with his mother they all left for Alexandria in Egypt where he worked for the Rees family’s shipping line. The mother died during the war years and Mano continued working possibly till the confiscation of the company in 1956. They lived in a beautiful villa in the European quarter of the city, Stanley bay, overlooking a beach. During the war, Edward was able to stay in this villa, and was able to briefly see his relative Fred de Jongh who worked for the Rees shipping line. Fred was Edward’s father’s first cousin, and his father was known as ‘Diko’ (one of those Smyrniot Greek style shortenings) for Richard. Family legend has it that he had an affair with a peasant Greek girl, and her angry brothers kidnapped Fred, threatened to kill him, unless he married, which he did, and was happy together with her, with whom he had children. He was a fat but jovial character, and Edward has fond memories of sharing jokes with him on his veranda at his house just outside Alexandria. ‘Diko’s’ other son, Dick worked for the ‘Lais’ factory in Greece.
Note: According to Alec Baltazzi, Mano Defterigo married his father’s sister, Maria Baltazzi and later they both died in Alexandria.
Mr de Jongh feels unlike the Levantines and Greeks of Smyrna, Alexandria produced a higher proportion of writers and poets as the two populations intermingled better, exchanging cultures (note: this theory is somewhat supported by the book ‘the Mediterranean in history’ that has the following paragraphs covering the city). Cavafy was a well known Alexandria Greek poet born in that city in 1863 from Istanbul Greek parents, whose money came from a merchant family of Greeks from Manchester. Edward has in his possession 2 books one in original Greek which he can read and one translated to English by Rae Delwyn.
Note: The most prominent Smyrna born Greek poet, George Seferis (1900-1971) won the Nobel prize for literature in 1963, and like other Turkish born Greeks of repute, he is mostly unknown in Turkey.
One of the few Greeks who was able to mix in with the Bornova Levantine community was a Xenopoulos, who owned the biggest and most frequented shop on Frank street. He married a lady from the Belhomme family. Their daughter Hélène was a good friend of Edward and Mr De Jabo in Greece, in the 1930s, who found her a person of great wit. She married a Frenchman Armand, and kept the surname even after their divorce.
Note: Hélène Armand is mentioned in a trade association web site, which details this UNESCO employee as restoring the Belhomme house, (apparently built by an English architect Clark in 1880), with her own funds, in the 1980s. The address of this imposing property (see photo) is given as no: 34 Fevzi Çakmak cad.
Another Smyrna Greek family who were contrary to traditions, considered to be Levantine, were the Allevras. A lady of this family married into the Joly family of Smyrna. The Allevras and De Jonghs were close and this relationship was maintained after their migration to Athens post 1922. Stello Allevra was the figure-head who managed ‘Lais’ the De Jongh family business. His younger brother Alec married his cousin, from the Joly family [Joyce, born 1904] and was the private secretary to Johnny Rees till the Second World War, when he moved to South Africa.
The ‘Lais’ hosiery firm was set up in Athens by Edward’s grandfather Henry de Jongh, however before that venture, he worked with another Smyrna emigré Theo Terazzi who was a timber importer. When in a later visit to Athens (1970s-80s), Edward noticed a Greek commercial sign for the firm of Terazzi and sons, suggesting the business was maintained by his sons. Other emigrés had other businesses, Willie Blackler was a distiller’s agent, a lucrative position to be as the representative of Brewer’s whiskey. Edward cannot remember the business of the Bari family, whose wife was one of the 3 sisters of the Smyrna German Löhner family. They had a son and a daughter, the daughter later married an American.
A Boudjah Greek family recalled by Edward were the Lorandos, who were poor in the village, but rose to become prominent in Greece after their move. Nicolas Lorando was considered the best doctor in Greece, and in the 40s and 50s was the manager of the biggest hospital in Athens, the Evangelismos.
Without doubt the most prominent Boudjah Greek was Aristotle Onassis, though Edward learnt about this later on. When in Greece, Onassis told Athens resident Ann Haydn that before 1922 he knew Edward’s grandfather Henry de Jongh, who when asked by young Onassis, offered him employment as an office boy in his business. This is not a family story and Henry never got to know how famous Onassis was to become. Ann Haydn was the daughter of Cecil Haydn who managed the American tobacco company in Athens after 1922 (Note: he may have been Edmund’s brother referred to in Al Simes’ testimony). Ann worked as the confidential secretary of a Greek from Smyrna, Costati Mariniris, who was a friend of Edward before the war. Costati’s sister married a rich ship owner, a company to which Costati was to have a stake as a partner. After the war, Costati left for the USA and with the death of his partner, he became the manager of the shipping line. Ann Haydn married several times and for a long time lived on the island of Rhodes. Edward asked this lady the origin of the name Haydn, which he thought was not at all English. The response given by Ann Haydn was that her great-grand father who came to Smyrna was a good violin player and would be cheered by the enthusiastic crowd in the lingua Franca of the time, in Greek, ‘pekse Haydn’ [play Haydn] and the story goes, this composer’s surname was adopted by this gentleman (originally a Smith) and his descendants. However this story may also be a false legend.
The Levantines lived in a cocktail of languages where Greek was always important. It seems some Turkish words were rendered in a Greek sounding sort of way by the Levantines, as having a party was often referred to ‘kuvardaliki’, probably a corruption of the Turkish word ‘kıvırtmak’, equating to dancing in a belly dancing manner (also used in slang as bending the facts and usually ascribed to a manner that would be done by a fickle woman).
Yachting was important to the wealthier Levantines and for some it was a way of life. From the Rees family there were people such as Tommy [1897-1944, steam yatch Latharna] and Freddie [1908-1965, steam yacht Valdora], and Harry Giraud [1872-1962, whose daughter Haydee married John Langdon Rees, yacht name Lillias], would spend their time between Çeşme [Lice], the nearby island of Chios and the small scenic port near Pireaus, Turcolimano [Turkish port]. Fred, the youngest of the brothers actually lived on the island of Chios. Harry Giraud’s yacht was a former America’s cup yacht bought second hand, whose tall mast had to be cut down to size as it would be too dangerous to handle by regular sailors. The charmed floating lifestyle on these yachts continued through the 1930s and had certain tax advantages.
The wealthier Levantines were also keen on horse racing and though the later generations didn’t show as much enthusiasm for it, Henry de Jongh would compete in the races at Paradiso near Boudjah and Edward was told by elders that the cap and blouse colours of the jockey were pink and grey.
Another Istanbul émigré was Mr Sydney Nowell, who arrived in Greece around 1920, opened a shop in Athens which stocked luxury items such as Sheffield silver. Sydney was more an acquaintance of Edward’s father. The shop closed down during the Second World War, reopened on a smaller scale after the war, however closed shortly afterwards. The unrelated Noel family have extensive land holdings on the island of Evia, however their surname is now double-barrelled (Noel-Baker) through marriage.
Edward had little contact with the Istanbul Levantine community that stayed on post 1922, safe for a brief visit to the city when visiting the Stevens in the 40s. He was aware the city was the home for the likes of Ian ‘boy’ Whittall who worked for the Whittall company there, and Donald Riddle who in his 30s was a successful businessman, who had made a lot of money. Edward believes Mr Riddle who had 2 sisters (Lillian and Muriel) also in the city, was originally from Smyrna, was well known and liked by the ‘Smyrniote’ Levantines.
Mr de Jongh believes Prince and Princess Borghese were not residents of Boudjah, however they might have temporarily rented property, and Princess Valerie Borghese was from the old Dutch Smyrna Levantine, Keun family. She was a first cousin to Mr de Jongh’s late wife’s mother. The Borghese family are an old aristocratic Rome family, who have supplied a pope in the 16th century and are known by the Borghese gardens. Mr de Jongh believes their sons and grandsons still live in Rome.
Notes: 1 -From the Feyyaz Erpi
book of testimonies we learn that the property in Buca after their departure
in the 1920s was overlooked by an opium merchant, Hermann A. Keun, who
probably was a close relation to Valerie Keun.
I was able to get more information from a contact in Rome, Ms Fiorella Rossi, whose mother was a good friend of Princess Valerie Borghese. ‘The first name of the prince who married Valerie was Camillo and they had 3 children, Flavio, Valerio, Virginio, all of whom have now passed away. Prince Valerio was at the head of the crack naval commando unit that fought on the fascist side following the split in Italian forces in 1943. This force known as ‘Flottiglia Mas X’ was very successful led by its ‘enigmatic’ leader, crippling many British vessels.
Note: Details of the wartime activities of this individual can be accessed under: and for details of a series of daring operations see here, that also mentions a book ‘Sea devils’ written by Valerio Borghese.
The new generation still lives in the Borghese palace, a beautiful building in the very centre of Rome. However Valerie lived her last years alone in a hotel and not at the palace, but this was common practice for wealthy widows not wanting to be burdened by running an extensive house.
The ‘original’ de Jongh of Smyrna, John established a newspaper aimed at the foreign community of Smyrna, the ‘Impartial’ whose editor was A. Edwards. Edward is aware that this gentleman was very wealthy, lived in Paris, and was close to the artists’ scene there. A considerable amount of information can be found about Mr Edwards as he was married for a time to a lady with considerable influence in the Parisian musical and artistic circle. Her name was Misia Sert, nee Godebska who was a noted beauty and was painted many times by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir. Her colourful life is vividly portrayed in the biography Misia, by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale (New York, Knopf, 1980) details and at least 8 pages are devoted to Mr Edwards and his liaison with his wife. Alfred Edwards was born in 1850, whose mother was from the French Levantine Caporal family based then in Istanbul (descendants still live in Izmir), became the owner-editor of Le Matin in Paris for 11 years and was a large share holder in the equally influential Le Figaro. He had a reputation as a bit of a playboy. Edward intends to re-establish contact with the grand nieces of A. Edwards with the view of eliciting further information and possibly a copy of the ‘Impartial’ newspaper.
Note: There is scope for further research on the various foreign papers, and characters involved. One line of investigating could be by examining letters kept in Durham library where both John de Jongh and Anthony Edwards letters are retained.
The Clarkes were an important British family of Smyrna till after WWII, one of the few British families to stay on, and ran a fig packing business and the name ‘Clarkes’ could be seen on dried fig packages in England until at least 20 years ago.
Note: There is still a Patrick Clarke based in Izmir carrying on this trade, and listed in the Turco-Italian chamber of commerce site, that includes in its listing a few other Levantine traders of the city.
The Clarkes were always considered in the Levantine lingo of ‘Punkiot’, a somewhat snobby label attached to Alsancak (from Punta) based Levantines by the cliquey Bornova Levantines, who considered their neighbourhood more high class.
From family talk, Edward is able to paint a picture for the circumstances for the initial move of John de Jongh to the Levant. A Robert Wilkinson was a trader in Greenwich near London in 1790s or a little before. Edward’s great-grandfather married his sister Mary Esther in 1791, and the two men were in business together. Robert Wilkinson left for Smyrna at the turn of the 18th and 19th century as a consul for Smyrna and persuaded John to go to Smyrna. Robert, John’s business partner, was Treasurer of the Levant Company in Smyrna. John came via the island of Chios as he was involved in the trade of the chief export of that island, mastic, a tree sap that was a major substitute for sugar in those days whose pleasant taste made it much used for the manufacture of sweets that supposedly whitened the teeth and freshened the breath of the ladies of the Ottoman court. The transport of the mastic to Constantinople was the mainstay of the business of these partners. In Smyrna he became a consul for Denmark that can only explained by some prior contact with that nation. Before going to Smyrna he lived for about 10 years in Hamburg, a major trading port in northern Germany, where he no doubt developed trading contacts with Denmark and possibly did some visits.
Glimpses of an even earlier family past are from recalled tales of Edward’s mother, which suggests the De Jongh family spent a few (at least 2, in her words) generations in Scotland, before John de Jongh’s move to Smyrna. This may help explain why John de Jongh’s mother was a ‘Scot’. Apparently like many other seafaring venturers of Holland at the time, the major menace was the (Barbary?) pirates plying the sea lanes in the English Channel. So from the 15th century onwards until by around the 17th when British maritime power drives away this menace, the sea route for trade with Britain was the tortuous way up the North Sea, and hooking via Western Scotland. Some vessels may have sank in the area of Mingary castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyle. There is the possibility that the shipwrecked De Jongh family members allied themselves with this Scottish nobleman and assisted him in his many clan wars prevalent at the time, but kept their Dutch nationality. Old family lore has it that there are still De Jongh descendants living in the far-flung Hebridian islands.
Notes: 1-From further glimpses
of the extent of trade between Holland and Scotland here:
Edward believes a Smyrna Wilkinson went to Malaya where he published the first Malay-English dictionary, and was told by an official in Singapore in the 1960s that it was still the standard dictionary used.
Note: This hunch was proved to be correct as there are references to this dictionary on the Internet, such as, where the reference is given as: Wilkinson, R.J., A Malay-English Dictionary (Romanised), MacMillan and Co., London, 1959. He was probably a close relation of the British consul for Izmir at the time, R.E. Wilkinson.
The De Jongh house in Buca that was sold to Charles Sperco at the bargain price of £4,000. He was an Italian Levantine with a major shipping line, that travelled mostly to Italy. He had offices in Northern Italy and one of his residences was in Trieste, in addition to Bornova. The Buca house was used as a summer retreat. In the 1930s he was killed with his wife as the Imperial Airways plane crashed in to Hymettus mountain shortly after taking off from Athens airport [could it be this crash, but later date, and different airline]. The shipping business was kept on to provide for their two children Bill and Vera. Vera was a childhood friend of Edward’s wife ‘Tish’ and when she had married an Englishman and emigrated to Australia, they retained contact as that was for a time their new country too.
Edward believes it was his grandfather who provided the land on which the Boudjah tennis club was situated, on the Smyrna end of the grounds of the De Jongh house. This club was active between the beginning of WWI and end of WWII, a centre of more than sport, but of revelry with drinks, and ‘liberated’ parties. These parties often started at the nearby De Jongh house, with a round of rakis, and later the brass tray on which they were served was sometimes used as an improvised sledge, the adventurous sliding down the stairways of the house helter-skelter. Bornova had its own 9 hole Golf club, another centre of Levantine activity, where Edward went to accompany his wife who was interested in the sport. Edward never went to the English club in Bornova, but knows it was still in existence in 1947.
Edward states there was no distinctive Levantine cuisine as such, but more a mixture of the East (such as mussakka and pilav rice) and West, where turkey was not only served during Christmas, but for all visitors. Wine was not as commonly consumed as today, partly because it was difficult to obtain, but raki (the traditional powerful Turkish liquor) was very popular as an evening drink. Wild boar was a welcome addition to the table, product of regular hunting expeditions by Levantines who would hunt these animals with great enthusiasm with raki to cheer and local beaters to assist in the hills, a day or 2 travelling distance from Smyrna. A home-made liquor popular with Levantines made use of the local morello cherries and damson plums, made with added sugar and pure alcohol. Edward’s grandmother continued to make cherry brandy at her home in Athens to be served to guests. Even humbler families (of all communities) took great pride in their water, and Edward remembers his father sinking wells in his property. Thus each house had its own distinctive water, and a compliment on its quality by visitors was ‘de rigueur’, who were also served a spoonful of home-made jam to accompany. Edward vaguely remembers from his early childhood of when he was 3-4, times when living in the first ‘Konak’ House, whose garden had large ‘tsikoudhies’ trees which in autumn would attract flocks of ‘begfig’ birds, smaller than quails, which were considered a delicacy by the Bucalis, and were shot for luncheon parties, consumed with pilav [rice].
A recollection of Edward is the general nature of construction of houses in Smyrna. To reduce the likelihood of collapse in earthquakes, buildings were built first in a wooden frame (to sway with the tremors), later to be filled in with masonry. For extra luck it was common for a cock to be sacrificed at the bottom of the foundation hole, and a little flag flown for a while from the top.
In Edward’s flat is the image of the De Jongh crest, however the origin of this appears long forgotten by the family at large. Edward is pretty confident the coat of arms is genuine as in the past many members of the family would wear rings with this emblem on, and Edward continuously wears his crest ring. This symbol was also embossed on the family silver plate-ware, that unfortunately was all lost in the looting associated with the turmoil of the 1922 fire. Willem Daniels’s search of Dutch archives of heraldry revealed nothing, so the crest’s story and history may be lost for good. In the same manner the Patterson family would also wear rings with their own crest on it, including Edward’s late wife.
Edward de Jongh is related to fellow contributor Willem Daniels, whose mother was Dorothy de Jongh (1893-1981), a sister of Edward’s father Edward sr. (1892-1964). Edward’s and Willem’s common grandfather is Henry de Jongh. Henry’s sister Eveline married James Peacock, and their daughter Phyllis married Edward sr. (her cousin).
Edward openly confesses he has the ‘Levant bug’ and has all along supported the project of capturing the tales and visual description of that heritage which he feels is more than idle nostalgia, but a way of connecting the old with the new generation in the spirit of an uplifting shared passion for posterity and the future.
Notes: 1- Click here to view a simplified family tree of the De Jongh family of Smyrna, Turkey and Edward’s place in it.