Fontini’s Sewing Machine

In 1915 the huge Mudros Bay on the island of Limnos became the Gallipoli Campaign’s major logistical hub crowded with hundreds of the Allies vessels. The once sleepy town of Mudros became a hive of activity. The relatively small local population was to become vastly outnumbered by the troops. This huge change meant commercial opportunities for the island’s farmers, fishermen and craftsmen to increase their income by selling local produce and merchandise, while some earned wages by working as stevedores.

There were opportunities too for the women of the island to earn their own money by providing much needed laundering services to the sudden influx of men.

One such hard working and thrifty woman was Fontini Dimitrelli who worked hard cooking and cleaning for her family. She realised that by offering to repair and wash the uniforms of servicemen she would be able to earn extra money. Her high quality and speedy services in tailoring and laundering was in such demand that she worked long hours. The money she earned was thriftily saved towards her long cherished goal to buy a Singer sewing machine.

Over a hundred years later that sewing machine is still used by her granddaughter Dina who is the co-owner of the Hotel Ethaleia. This hotel is situated on a hill outside Mudros town with panoramic views of the spectacular and peaceful Mudros Bay. Dina has a fund of fascinating memories of her grandfather telling her about life on the island during the period of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Fontini’s Singer sewing machine.
Fonini Dimitrelli and her husband.
Owners of Hotel Ethaleia, Dina and Apostolos, on the hotel terrace with Mudros bay in the background.