A Marsh man has had feelings of déjà-vu following the recent series of earthquakes in Kefalonia.
James Wood, 84, from Marsh, has relived his experience following recent news of the disaster on the Western Greek Island of Kefalonia – 61 years after his own earthquake experience on the same island.
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude between 5.7 and 6.1 hit the western Greek island of Kefalonia before dawn on Monday, February 3, sending frightened residents into the streets just over a week after a similar quake damaged hundreds of buildings.
James, a former seaman in the Royal Navy, knows first-hand of the devastation felt by the inhabitants of Kefalonia as in August 1953 he was sent to the Greek island as part of the clean-up operation following the destructive natural disaster.
Recounting his experience, James said: “I was stationed at our naval base in Malta when we received news of a significant earthquake on an island off Greece and we were sent to Kefalonia on a submarine depot ship to aid the sufferers.
“Fortunately we had trained staff on the ship as well as our own hospital and useful things like water and electricity which were vital because the island badly needed first aid, water and power.”
James’ efforts in the recovery earned him a surprising reward. When he returned to the island a decade later he was rewarded by the Mayor of Kefalonia during a chance meeting.
“I was visiting a museum with my wife in Kefalonia while on holiday when I was introduced to the mayoress,” said James. “After informing her that I had helped with the clean-up operation she insisted that I must not leave the island before I was thanked by her husband.
“The mayor then raced to meet me and presented me with an antique Greek book, which was very thoughtful.
“After hearing the news of the recent earthquakes over there, the memory of my experience came flooding back.”