Levantine Heritage
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The Contributors
Rose Marie Caporal | Alessandro Pannuti | Ft Joe Buttigieg | Mary Lemma | Antoine ‘Toto’ Karakulak | Willie Buttigieg | Erika Lochner Hess | Maria Innes Filipuci | Catherine Filipuci | Harry Charnaud | Alfred A. Simes | Padre Stefano Negro | Giuseppe Herve Arcas | Filipu Faruggia | Mete Göktuğ | Graham Lee | Valerie Neild | Yolande Whittall | Robert Wilson | Osman Streater | Edward de Jongh | Daphne Manussis | Cynthia Hill | Chris Seaton | Andrew Mango | Robert C. Baker | Duncan Wallace QC | Dr Redvers ‘Red’ Cecil Warren | Nikolaos Karavias | Marianne Barker | Ümit Eser | Helen Lawrence | Alison Tubini Miner | Katherine Creon | Giovanni Scognamillo | Hakkı Sabancalı | Joyce Cully | Jeffrey Tucker | Yusuf Osman | Willem Daniels | Wendy Hilda James | Charles Blyth Holton | Andrew Malleson | Alex Baltazzi | Lorin Washburn | Tom Rees | Charlie Sarell | Müsemma Sabancıoğlu | Marie Anne Marandet | Hümeyra Birol Akkurt | Alain Giraud | Rev. Francis ‘Patrick’ Ashe | Fabio Tito | Pelin Böke | Antonio Cambi | Enrico Giustiniani | Chas Hill | Arthur ‘Mike’ Waring Roberts III | Angela Fry | Nadia Giraud | Roland Richichi | Joseph Murat | George Poulimenos | Bayne MacDougall | Mercia Mason-Fudim née Arcas | Eda Kaçar Özmutaf | Quentin Compton-Bishop | Liz Knight-Gök | Charles F. Wilkinson | Antony Wynn | Anna Laysa Di Lernia | Pierino & Iolanda Braggiotti | Philip Mansel | Bernard d’Andria | Achilleas Chatziconstantinou | Enrichetta Micaleff | Enrico Aliotti Snr. | Patrick Grigsby | Anna Maria and Rinaldo Russo | Mehmet Yüce | Wallis Kidd | Jean-Pierre Giraud | Osman Öndeş | Jean François d’Andria | Betty McKernan | Frederick de Cramer | Emilio Levante | Jeanne Glennon LeComte | Jane Spooner | Richard Seivers | Frances Clegg
The photographer who captured many worlds

The grandfather of the 92 year old (in 2001) Alfred A. Simes, William, came with two other Simes (one a brother the other probably their father) from Scotland (exact location now forgotten) and settled in Boudjah. He was an engineer and he had a contract to build the gas works, known as the ‘Smyrna gas company’. The elder brother Charles dies in a yachting accident in the bay of Izmir. He is buried in the Buca cemetery together with his wife Elizabeth who is also Scottish.

Note: The graves are listed on Newhall’s map (position 150) but are invisible today.

His grandfather, William marries the Izmir born Mary Jamafta, a devout Catholic Levantine of now unknown heritage. Mr Simes’ father Thomas, born in 1881, like his father worked for the Aydin railways (ORC). Al Simes’s father Thomas marries a Greek Catholic, Pauline Charikiopoulo and they live in Alsancak. Thomas volunteering for the war from Australia where he had gone for the railway construction near Sydney, dies in the battle of Somme in 1916 that cost more than a million Allied lives.

The family tree is rather complex, but Al Simes knows that his grandfather had 4 children, Thomas, Lawrence, Mary and Elizabeth. The family were principally involved with railways of both companies and the Smyrna gas works. The member who worked for the gas works had a daughter, Lizzy who married an English tailor by the name of Mr Lock. There is a cousin of his father [by inference sons of Lawrence], Frank Simes who worked as the chief of the Isparta station of the railways and whose namesake son now lives in London. Frank was the brother of a Charles Simes who emigrated to Australia, a country where there are still many Simeses, and with whom Mr Simes is still in touch. The youngest brother John died when Al Simes was around 5-6, and Mr. Simes has a photo of him.

Note: The graves of many of these cousins are listed in the family tomb at the Paşaköprü cemetery, probably moved from the Caravan Bridge cemetery, where John’ dates are given as 1882-1917. His mother Frances Simes (1846-1928) is also buried here. It seems the grave of the Al Simes’, grandfather William (1849-1919) now also rests here, but Mr Simes is now unsure where his father was buried. Another cousin (brother of Frank) of Mr Simes’ is also buried here, Rev Fr. Joseph Simes (1877-1911), who was a Dominican friar at the St. Rosaire church in Alsancak. There are 2 other names listed on the headstone Mr Simes is not familiar with, though almost certainly cousins, Robert (1880-1900) and Thomas (1881-1910).

Mr Simes, born in 1909 arrives in Izmir as a 2 week old baby and later attends the French Catholic school in Alsancak. He completes a photo-journalism course by correspondence between 1933-1935. For many years he pursues photo-journalism as a hobby beside his regular job.

Mr Simes’s wife for 58 years (2001), Yvonne is a French Levantine from the Balladur family, born 1924. Her father, Hermann Balladur, worked for the Giraud family as chief of the cotton department, and his brother Wilfred was the manager of the Iskenderun branch of the French owned Ottoman (Osmanlı) bank. Their father was Antoine Balladur a descendant of the refugees from Nachcivan region of Armenia from the late 18th century. The family of Yvonne moved from Göztepe to Izmir in 1938. Yvonne’s mother was Pauline Corsini, an Italian Smyrna family. She remembers the Balladur house in Buca with a large garden, thus the popularly known Balladur house there, facing the street, must be incorrect. One of the largest families of Buca, the Austrian extraction Dermond, had a son with the same name (Eduard) and this may be the reason for the confusion. The head of the Buca Balladur family was Pierre who had 3 daughters and 3 sons with Eduard being the youngest. In 1935 they emigrate together to Marseilles. One of the last persons of Balladur background (through her mother) is Jeanne Missir. The last person to carry the name Balladur in Buca, Edgar, died as a bachelor in 1984.

Following the war Mr Simes enrolled in the Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth aged only 13, studying there for 2 years before heading out to sea. A family friend Joe English, an American managing the company where he was to work, hired him. So the Simes together with his mother and younger sister Ethel left Henly-on-Thames to Izmir in 1927.

Between 1927 (18 years old then) to 1975 he worked at the Izmir branch of the American tobacco company, except for the Second World War years when he had leave. In this firm he was the regional head of accounting. The company’s origins go back to the late 19th century and its present continuation is the British American tobacco company (England based, branch in Izmir) that is still active. All rival firms in Izmir were American.

As one of the few British residents of Alsancak, the British embassy in Ankara sent an unannounced visitor to him, Mr Arnold Lawrence in 1931-2. At the doorstep Mr Simes announced that the first book he bought had an author with the same surname. The book was the ‘Boy’s life of Colonel Lawrence’ by Lowell Thomas, concerning the life of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) through the eyes of the accompanying American photojournalist. Arnold explained he was his younger brother and after two hours of friendly conversation, presented Mr Simes with his gold RAF tie-pin, still in his possession in its box.

In 1933 visiting Arnold in England, a professor of archaeology at Jesus college in Cambridge, he was introduced to his brother, T.E. Lawrence, the first and last time they were able to speak. ‘Ted’ was at the time formally an officer in the Royal Air Force and Royal Tank Corps. In the tank corps to conceal his identity, T.E. Lawrence was known as ‘Shaw’, as he was a friend and admirer of Bernard Shaw and at the RAF he was known as ‘Ross’.

Note: Encyclopaedia Britannica explains this name; ‘…with covert help of his wartime colleague, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Trenchard, enlisted under an assumed name (John Hume Ross) in the RAF in 1922. However the guise did not work as the London press found him at Farnborough base, the Daily Express breaking the story on December 27 of that year. Embarrassed, the RAF released him early next month.

Later Arnold presented Al Simes with a 1935 special edition book of ‘7 pillars of wisdom’ still in his possession published the same year the author died in a motorcycle accident in England.

Note: Thomas Edward Lawrence, 1888-1935 – British archaeological scholar, military strategist and writer. His exploits in personally organising the feuding tribes of Arabia to help defeat the occupying Turkish forces still make him a legendary figure in the West and the debacle is still painful for the Turks who still lament the non-return of soldiers in the melancholic ‘Yemen’ [türkü] song. His personal testimony to these events is documented in the book ‘Seven pillars of wisdom’ (1926). The copy in Mr Simes collection is the ‘post humorous trade edition’ E.B.

Mr Simes continued his close friendship with Arnold Lawrence until he died 9 years ago (1992) at the age of 90. He was also an archaeology professor at the London university in the 1930s and he personally ensured the son of Al Simes, Rodney went to study there in 1962.

In 1933 in pursuit of his hobby of photo-journalism, Mr Simes was writing stories and shooting photos for the government run Illustrated paper of Turkey, no longer in existence, published half in French, half in Turkish. He produced articles on sports and tourism and the publication was called ‘L’illustration de Turquie’.

Mr Simes played professional football with the local Altay football club in the 1930-31. At the time he was the only foreigner in the team, but later the brothers whom he knew personally, Joe and Edwin Clarke also played for the team. Edwin Clarke volunteered for service during the Second World War (RAF?). The Clarke family were involved in the export of figs and raisins, and they both died in Izmir.

In those years he would swim across the then clean bay from Alsancak to Karsiyaka and the dolphins would race alongside. He estimates the population of Izmir then was around 300,000.

In 1928/30 there were a total of 3 taxis (at least 1 a Ford) in Izmir that waited for customers near the Konak clock tower and Mr Simes did use them from time to time, but returning from dancing in one of the seafront casinos first had to catch a horse tram, as there were no taxis in Alsancak. Amongst the first private cars owned by Alsancak residents was an English gentleman working for the American tobacco company, Stanley de Swart, who had a dark green 2-seater convertible Ford, bought in 1934/5. The French brothers Renee and Fermond Jacquigon had a Renault around 1933-37, a long open top black vehicle. The Jacquigon family were involved in the trade of importing household installations such as taps and lived in a large house by the seafront. Emigrating later to France and Switzerland, the last member left in 1965 and the family for a time ran the ‘Le President’ hotel in Geneva.

Notes: Fellow contributor, Andrew Mango, recalls ‘I knew Stanley de Swart in Ankara in 1946. His job with McAndrews and Forbes had folded up and, like me, he had a small job at the British Embassy. Later, we met once in London and he had at least one son’.
Even though exact models of cars is not specified, a flavour of period car types can be viewed at: There is a ‘hotel President Wilson’ in Geneva, probably the same hotel.

Stanley de Swart’s father, Fred worked for the MacAndrew’s and Forbes company. Stanley de Swart lived in Alsancak, a gardened house standing no longer, across the former railway pier, ‘The English Pier’. During the war, he served on a Turkish army base deep within Anatolia, near Afyon, where for a brief time Al Simes also served as a lorry driver. Mr Simes still has a single photo taken at the wheel of one of the lorries he drove to Izmir for use by the British officers. This location, was possibly used to provide materials to British operatives in Turkey, as Mr Simes recalls that British planes would fly in and take off from this base. Until 1945 (Feb. 23) Turkey was supposedly neutral but as can be seen from this base had a more favourable disposition towards the Allies even well before this date, especially since there were no German troops on Turkish soil throughout the war. However it is significant that all the British troops in Izmir and on the base always served in civilian attire.

Note: This is a revelation that goes against the supposed strict neutrality of Turkey through the war. It is possible this base was part of a joint Anglo-Turkish intelligence action that even politicians of both sides were unaware of. For a detailed analysis of the Turkish neutrality, the web:
There is a book written by Stanley Beavan, ‘Aegean Masquerade: A Royal Air Force Odyssey. Studley, Warwickshire: Brewin Books, 1994’, a book concerning ‘RAF wireless operations in the Mediterranean and RAF covert operations in Turkey and Greece. It is based on the author's first-hand experiences and RAF service.’

Mr Simes still remembers a revelation recounted by a high-ranking British officer at the time, part of the ‘grapevine’. In 1915 the authorities sent Ataturk, as a relatively junior officer to Germany where he was lectured on the advantages of Turkey joining the war on their side. He remained a committed pro-British, and on the return train journey on hearing Turkey had entered the war on the German side, in typical far sightedness he pronounced, ‘well we lost the war’.

At a time when most people did not own a radio, Mr Simes in 1935 bought himself one of the best models of the time, an HMV, with which he was able to receive the BBC.

Al Simes’ photography hobby allowed him to get up close and personal with some of the most influential figures of the time such as Winston Churchill (British prime minister and minister of defence 1940-45), Dwight Eisenhower (commander general of the allied forces 1944-45 and US president 1953-61), Ismet Inönü (Turkish prime minister 1938-50), Queen Elizabeth II (1952-P), the Popes Paul VI (1963-78) and John Paul II (1978-P), all captured in his extensive photo collection. Mr Simes photographed Churchill in N. Africa, England and Adana where he was able to board his train wagon. Churchill used the train to travel probably from Basra in S. Iraq to where British battleships were able to approach.

Note: The date of this meeting where Churchill tried to convince Turkey to join the Allies in the war effort, is given in the Internet site 4f, as January 1943. However the book ‘Churchill – Roy Jenkins- 2001’ informs that Churchill flew from Egypt, but the meeting was conducted in the ‘docking’ wagons near Adana.

On a passing note, Churchill visited Izmir in the August of 1959, with the powerful Smyrna born Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, on whose luxury yacht ‘Christina’ he sailed. When later in Istanbul, Churchill was paid a visit on the yacht, by the Turkish prime minister at the time, Adnan Menderes, and foreign minister Fatih Rüstü Zorlu, both of whom were to die 2 years later on the gallows of the military tribunal.

Notes: 1- Onassis (1906-1975) was a controversial figure in world finance, who gained special prominence in the west through his marriage (1968) to Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of President John F. Kennedy. He had to leave Smyrna with the 1922 exodus to Argentina, where he was able to revive the family tobacco business.
2- There is the possibility that the name ‘Churchill’ for the major pier with permanently docked floating restaraunts at the Bostanlı end of Izmir, got its name from the possible fact that it was built around this time as a reminder of a celebrated visitor.

Eisenhower was photographed in N. Africa with Andrew Cunningham, the vice admiral of the fleet. Cunningham serving under Eisenhower was naval commander in chief for the landings in N. Africa and later Sicily. The pope Paul VI was photographed in 1967 during his visit to Izmir at the St. John’s cathedral (American chapel). The pope John Paul II held a mass at Mary’s house in 1979 and Mr Simes also filmed the ceremony. The Queen Elizabeth II visiting Izmir in 1971 was invited by the British community to lunch at the Efes hotel and in the evening she returned the compliment with an invite on board the royal yacht Britannica. Mr Simes speaking to the Queen, presented his wife Yvonne as French and they were surprised when the Queen turned to Mrs Simes to speak in fluent French.

The first of his encounters with the founder of the Turkish republic, Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal) was by chance in a shop in the capital Ankara in 1932 when all of a sudden Ataturk appeared with his entourage. At the shop window there was a sign ‘buy Turkish’ as it coincided with the week to promote local industry. Ataturk asked the shop owner:

‘What about the bottle of perfume?’
‘That's from France’
‘And the label on the perfume’
‘That's also from France’
So Ataturk smiled a little and said:
‘So that means that the water in the perfume is ours then’
Then smiling at Mr Simes, he said:
‘Young man, make sure you buy Turkish, whatever you buy.’

Ataturk visited Izmir in 1937 to oversee military manoeuvres in Söke and Kuşadası that were designed to show force in case the Italian dictator Mussolini had designs in the region as they already occupied the 12 nearby Aegean islands. Descending from the train in his clearly frail condition (he died a year later), Ataturk was surprised to see the photographer, he had met several times since 1934, in a location where photographers were banned. Ataturk seeing him, the following conversation took place:

‘What are you doing here?’
‘You invited me’
‘I invited you?’
‘Why, your government did’. Ataturk liked what he heard and Al began to adjust the camera for a shot. Ataturk telling him to stop, Mr Simes feared for an adverse reaction, but Ataturk straightening his tie then commanded, ‘you can take my picture’. That would be the last time the two of them would ever meet, as a year later Ataturk would die. Al has an album of 20 Ataturk photographs.

With the outbreak of the war, Mr Simes attempted to join the Royal Air Force, but when the RAF learned of his command of languages, he was told he would hear from the British Embassy in Ankara. Instead, he was soon contacted by the British Consul in Izmir and directed to proceed to North Africa. His proficiency in Turkish, Italian, Greek and Arabic, made him to be selected to translate for the Italian and German prisoners of war interviewed in Egypt. As major Simes in the 8th Army, in the ‘Command-account department’, he saw it composed of Poles, French, Greeks, Czechs and other nationalities of countries occupied by Germany, together with 2 Italian volunteers from Izmir. Although Al Simes did not personally meet the two Italian volunteers to the British army he remembers their names as Rene ‘Delphino’ (nick name) whose brother is reported to have been working at the Italian consulate in Izmir at the time. The other volunteer was Charles Russo (the family were not fascist leaning) who seems to have been slightly unstable. He spent the start of the war between the Western desert of Egypt and Izmir where he supervised the production of tobacco, as he was allowed to continue his profession and also was a production the army needed. Even while playing the part of the English business man in Izmir, he continued to aid the allied war effort as ‘The Allies always wanted to know about the merchants dealing with the enemy, because there were so many Europeans in Turkey, including my own company, dealing with Germany and Italy before the war’. As the war progressed wounded prisoner of war were exchanged in neutral territory such as the bay of Izmir and Mersin. On the occasion of the first exchange between Britain and Italy, sneaking on board the Italian ship with the aid of his Turkish journalist card and the Swiss Red Cross manager in Izmir, took one picture, spotted by the captain who came straight up, asking if he was English or Turkish. He said he was English to which the captain replied ‘You know you are on enemy territory now and we can keep you as prisoner’. Al Simes jumped up on to the ship railings and said ‘I know you Italians are gentleman and if you allow me to go the way I came up here OK. Otherwise I’ll jump over’. The captain replied ‘No, you can go the way you came and that’s how he left the ship. The number involved in the exchange was not inconsiderable as the modest ‘Bayrakli’ ferryboat was packed with glum looking Italians that had offloaded from the British hospital ship. An Italian officer spoke in English to Mr Simes,
‘Please don’t upset the wounded by taking photos’; he already had taken the shots.

In 1943 he travelled to Adana in the south to photograph Sir Winston Churchill and the president of Turkey at the time Ismet Inönü. His skills in photography ensured that as a war correspondent in 1944, he was flown in the metal belly of RAF Fairey Barracuda II torpedo bombers. These involved taking off from bases in Egypt, Malta and England, flying over Italy and France, snapping shots of factories and other war making facilities, such as the Caen steel works, before and after the bombings. He noted the most dangerous part of it was the return to bombed locations as the enemy was waiting. Later he joined the effort of hunting Germany’s latest and greatest battleship (251 m. long) Tirpitz in the North Norwegian fjord country. On April the 3rd 1944, the mighty warship that had been alluding Allied air forces for months was sighted along the Kaafjord fjord. In his collection he still has the sequence of memorable shots as a swarm of British aircraft converged and of the first direct hit on the ship, the camera caught more by chance timing.

Note: From the Internet I found this was the 6th aerial attack on the ship, all in localities in North Norway. This one was the first to register bomb hits (14 and 1 near miss) from an air armada (4 lost) of 42 Barracudas (first time they were used in action), 21 Corsairs, 20 Hellcats and 10 Wildcats sent from a fleet of the British aircraft carriers, Victorious, Furious, Searcher, Pursuer, Emperor and Fencer (latter 4 ex US). The damage was not enough to sink the ship and it finally took (17th operation) 3 massive 12,000 pound bombs from Lancasters to sink her on 12-Nov-1944. Dubbed the ‘monster’ by Churchill, its destruction had virtually become a British obsession.

He married in 1943 in St. John the Evangelist’s cathedral - modern view - in Izmir and had 2 wedding parties in the respective consulates. Due to the then occupation of France, the French Consul recommended his wife to take up British nationality.

During the war a group of cheeky British soldiers, Royal Engineers, were staying by the sea-front at a pension with the same name of the Maltese British national who ran it, Mr Cauchi. On Christmas Eve, they did a night-time scamper over the flat rooftops of the Alsancak buildings of the time, to hoist a Union Jack on the flagstaff of the German consulate and an American flag to the Italian. In the morning the furious consuls commanded the pension owner to send the soldiers to them, but nobody came. On one occasion these soldiers who by now were on friendly terms with Mr Simes, came to his house and raised him from his evening dinner with his wife to help them translate a document in Italian, thus helping with the local intelligence work.

In 1944, the Austrian Alsancak resident, Nevazdal who was the local nazi organiser, fearing the Turkish port customs authorities would confiscate his hefty propaganda book, gave it to Al, still in his library. The book has all the appearance of being limited edition as all the illustrations, mostly of vistas of Nuremberg rallies, are hand glued. The Nevazdals never made a visit to Izmir since but in 1988 on a visit to Vienna for a football match involving an Izmir team, Mr Simes visited his daughter and her husband. Mr Nevazdal was no longer alive by then.

Early in the war years (1940-41?), the British consul Charles Greig lived for a time in the Forbes house in Buca and invited Al to his house from time to time to show his camera collection. Other Buca residents Mr Simes knew well were Mr Rowland Pengelley, who died 1933 and was good friends with Oswald Barker who died relatively young in 1951. Mr Simes also knew, through her husband, the last Russo (Italian) representative of Buca who left the family home to move to Alsancak when she (Bertha) married Mr Cassano in 1945. He also personally knew Charles Balladur who had a Ford dealership and purportedly was the first man in Turkey to set up a production line for car assembly in 19301d. Also an acquaintance was Eddy Whittall, a cousin of Mrs Simes, died 1998 (born Izmir 1917) whose florist shop on Kibris Sehitleri caddesi (next to Manisali 1970 restaurant1i-p.64) is now under the control of his son Michel. Another old friend is Felice Cappadona now 94, had a shop on Kıbrıs Şehitleri cad. selling accessories, that was shut down around 1962-65, as he then concentrated to work as an architect and developer.

After the war the mother and sister of Mr Simes returned to England, and his mother died aged 96 and his sister is still living in Henley-on-Thames aged 90 today.

The Bornova golf club was a major venue for the British community before and after the Second World War, with many events being held there, including fancy dress parties, now captured in his photograph collection. Mr Simes remembers the location as slightly outside central Bornova, which closed around 30 years ago.

Note: I believe the golf, social, English club are all the same thing. The location of this building is given in the Kalças book as a building within the former Charlton Whittall estate, near the Anglican church on the same street (Gençlik cad.), now serving as the library of the Ege university. The name of the building is given as the ‘Well’ house, referring to the stone columns still standing, where at one time a horse paced round to rotate the bucket wheel that drew water up from the well.

Mr Simes remembers both the major Greek Orthodox cemetery that was situated next to the present Alsancak football stadium until 1922 and an Armenian cemetery (he never entered within its walls) slightly beyond the former Anglican cemetery in Kemer (Caravan Bridge) removed 40-50 years ago.

The British Seaman’s Hospital was transferred to the Italian sisters after the war and used for a time as a hospital called St Antoine’s, but was later vacated to be transferred to the Turkish authorities. The stocky building still stands near the enclosed sports stadium in Alsancak. Much British property of Izmir was lost particularly in the 1960s, including the grounds of the British post office and the adjoining old consulate, now part of the Efes hotel and Kızılay (Red Crescent) building.

Al and Yvonne Simes were distinguished guests at the ceremony marking the opening of the NATO headquarters in Izmir. Because of the lack of billeting for soldiers in Izmir during the early years of Nato, the Simes’ 10 bedroom old English home at the time (as tenants in his grandfather’s former house, still standing on 66 Şeraffettin cad. across St. Joseph Lycée), served as a pseudo-boarding house for young American service members for 13 years (1952-65). Many of those young troops, now in their 60s and 70s have faithfully stayed in touch with their former caretakers. The Simes’ continue to remain close to the American military community, mostly through chapel and school activities.

In the September of 1955, Al Simes witnessed the burning of the Greek consulate by mobs and despite approaching the scene from behind, was noticed by them who mistook Al for a Greek, carried aloft by the chanting crowd to an unknown destination but was rescued by a friend who was a Turkish military officer. These regrettable events were the Izmir version of the mob action in Istanbul at the time, however the lack of a Greek community avoided any casualties, except for the Greek pavilion at the International Izmir fair site, that was thoroughly ransacked.

In 1955 while walking by the waterfront Mr Simes was beckoned by his good friend the shipping agent, Mr Van der Zee who introduced him to Mr Onassis visiting the city, and thus by chance, a conversation in Greek and English ensured between these three men.

In the Cyprus connected riots of 1964 an American Nato officer was killed by rioters near Kahramanlar in Alsancak.

Before the fire of 1922 Alsancak and its neighbourhoods were known under different names. The seafront (1inci kordon) was referred as ‘Le Quai’, the street behind (2nci kordon) was ‘Le Parallel’ and behind the area of ‘Punta’ stretched from St. Polycarp church area to the Alsancak ferry point and docks beyond, including the British consulate, the Anglican church, the Alsancak railway station the French school along the Şerafettin bey caddesi [street] and the Kıbrıs şehitleri caddesi (the upper end of the famous former ‘Frank street’).

‘Bella Vista’ formed a wide square facing the sea extending from the old French hospital near ‘Sevinç’ patisserie. The road near the Anglican Church (1462) was known as ‘Bulvar Alliotti’.

Opposite the Anglican church, the complex of buildings was the Ottoman tobacco monopoly, the French named ‘Regie de tabacs’, a private company with a state concession. Despite its name, it wasn’t a French company, but like most Turkish companies of the time, was run by foreigners. After the fire the installation was transferred to the control of the tobacco and spirits state monopoly, ‘Tekel’ and is still functioning.

Note: From a web site on the Turkish tobacco history, we see that Mr Simes' information is slightly inaccurate; between 1884 and 1924, the privilege of exploitation of the tobacco monopoly was conveyed to a French Company by a charter.

Amongst the many Levantine companies in operation before the fire was C. Whittall in shipping, closed after the fire but reopened later and was still in operation in 1927. The Whittall and Giraud families were involved in the export of dried fruit. The offices of these companies were on the Alsancak waterfront. Also on the waterfront was the office of the Rees shipping company, still marked by the letter ‘R’ on the wrought iron door railings, opposite the coastal police station of Pasaport, where an old friend of Mr Simes, Mr Charles Petter of Buca was the manager.

Note: Next to this building is another obviously once imposing building ravaged by the glass frontage of a former bank. However the larger than life bare breasted head and torso of a mermaid in marble still adorns it, clearly Levantine and probably the mark of another powerful shipping line.

In the American tobacco company all clerks were British and the last serving manager was Edmund Haydn who served between 1928-50. During the war period a clerk, Mr McCormack was employed and after the war Jeffrey Kitson-Harris.

Note: From the Whittall family tree we see that Edmund Haydn married Nancy Ruth Turrell in 1933 and had 3 children with her.

A relation of Mrs Simes was William Wilson who worked for the Mac Andrews and Forbes company and left to his native America in 1952. Al knew the sub-branch managers of the same company, in Menemen, Tom Drysdale in the 1950s who retired and left for Scotland shortly after. He also knew the other Scot branch manager based in Söke, Robert T. Sime, in the same period.

In the years 1973-1983, Al Simes worked for the BBC world service, reporting on events in Turkey and monitoring transmission quality.

In 1979 Mr Simes inherited as a friendly gift a house in Bayraklı (1609 street, no: 58) from the Catholic Stella family who had emigrated to South Africa before the second world war. He was on friendly terms with Leopoldo Stella, an uncle, before he had emigrated, who also tried to get Mr Simes to leave with him. Mr Simes has a snapshot of the house with an elderly couple on the balcony, Leopoldo’s late parents. The dilapidated house is still up for sale.

The descendants of the old Levantine families of many nationalities still live in Alsancak. Of the Italians and still living are Filinesi, Braggioti, Reggio, Mille, Penetti, Ferlandez, Romano, Ciucci, Bioni, Dallegio, Bernardini (the Archbishop), Corsini (printers and motor-belt manufacture), Paradiso and Russo as well as many others. Some Italian families such as Scagliarini and Walter are no longer represented.

The Maltese are mostly British subjects and the living family names are Mikaleff, Gallia, Pariente, Tona, Borg (jewellers), Richichi, Toctan, Sera and Buttigieg. The past families were Portelli, Teuma, Stabile, Galdies. These families were evacuated by British ships in 1922 to Malta and Cyprus, but returned later and most were middle class with professions such as jewellers, painters, carpenters, cobblers and clerks.

There are no present English Levantines of Alsancak left today and in the past the Clarke family under father Paul, son Edwin and older brother Joe traded in dry figs and raisins between 1920s-1990s. (Jim) Hale repaired radios in 1930s-40s and the two Williamson sisters ran a pension opposite the Alsancak railway station where parties were held. Mr Simes also remembers members of the Gout family, though supposedly not related to each other, Sydney and Walter, the latter related to Mrs Simes, who headed the Athens branch of the American tobacco company, whose wife Daisy (nee Alban, English national) moved to Canada when husband died.

The Papi family still exists as Maltese Catholics with British passports. The Austrian Nevazdal left in 1944 and the German Schmit and Muller (ex vice-consul) are also no longer represented. The Dutch were represented by the De Groot (tobacco manager of the Dutch firm Hollandse), Van der Zee (shipping) and the still living Dutilh. The transport and tourism firm established by their late father Maurice is now despite the recent sale, is run by the brothers Karel and Hendrik.

Al Simes remembers the names of some of the British or Maltese clerks working for the ORC before it was nationalised. Mr Dickenson lived behind the offices still standing on the right hand side when facing the entrance, and the Frenchman Mr Cross lived across the St. John’s church. The goods office of the ORC was the stone building next to the Wilkinson pension.

Al Simes continues to serve as vice president of the Meryemana (Mary’s house) site in Ephesus, a volunteer position that he takes pride in since 1950. He personally organised and petitioned the authorities in 1950 and he has a group photograph of the archbishop and the Italian consul at the time with whom he worked with. Through his and his teams work, the authorities constructed an access road, and the first president of the association was the dry fruit exporter, Mr Paul Clarke until he died. The association is dedicated to ensure a firm caretaker status of the place where the mother of Jesus is believed to have lived her last days. This position has also given him the pleasure of meeting with persons such as Bill Clinton and Lech Walesa (the legendary head of ‘Solidarity’, and later Polish president 1990-95). Mr Simes whom he communicated with Mr Walesa through a Polish sister, was presented a gold pen with Lech Walesa’s signature embossed on its side in solid gold. Despite retiring from the presidency in February 2002, Mr Simes continues to assist this work in a voluntary capacity.

Notes: 1- The Izmir American NATO magazine ‘Aegean Breeze’ published 2 articles (August 94 and April 98) in celebration on the life and achievements of Al Simes, from which I have also made use of.
2- Mr Simes retains close links with the American military community in Izmir, including such men who have put down roots in the city, such as Walter Mullen who runs a cattle ranch in Buca and who married a local of the city, a Miss Corsini.
3- Mr Simes’ son Rodney also lives in Izmir and works as the sales director for Altab tobacco co., thus has chosen his father’s old professional field and a ‘typical’ Levantine occupation. The company is at the forefront of technical innovations in tobacco processing.
4- Mr Simes’ grandson, Andrew who also lives in Izmir, following inspiration from this site has gone to form a young Levantines of Izmir social group in 2005, that has since grown to hold bigger and bigger gatherings - photos:
Continuing on the social theme Andrew Simes has also established the Izmir based ‘Levantine United Football Club’ team, populated with a significant proportion of the new generation of Levantines, and this acts as a homage to a Levantine sporting past in the city that goes back to the late 19th century - photos:
5- Andrew Simes feels the author Freya Stark in her book ‘Ionia a Quest’ mentions his grandfather (albeit, not by name) in the first few pages. She was a guest at his house for some time and described their lifestyle: ‘The mistress of the house was French and her husband British; and King George and the Union Jack held the middle wall in the parlour, while St. Joan knelt over the table by my bed. So it must have been, under one symbol or another, ever since the first colonists went out in the long-oared vermilion ships and built new cities for their gods, remembering the communities they came from...’
6- Andrew Simes has also compiled a family tree of the Simes and allied families, viewable in summary here: In addition Andrew Simes dwelving further into his family’s roots back to the year 1590, records: ‘a Vincenzo Timoni who married into the Soffietti family. I have done some research on these two names, and it seems the Timoni’s were quite an influential family. The Timoni’s have produced an Archbishop of Smyrna (Bishop of Chios prior to that) and also a “doctor” in Constantinople by the name of Emmanuel Timoni who found the vaccine for smallpox (ref: wikipedia). Below is the list of Bishops of Chios. It is amazing that at least 3 of them and I share a common surname in our genealogy.

Catholic Bishops of Chios (Roman rite) o Archbishop Nikólaos Printesis (Apostolic Administrator since 1993.04.29)
o Archbishop Ioánnis Perrís (Apostolic Administrator 1961 – 1993)
o Fr. Rocco Dellatolla (Apostolic Administrator 1959 – 1961)
o Archbishop Giovanni Battista Filippucci (Apostolic Administrator 1947.05.29 – 1959.11.06)
o Archbishop Alessandro Guidati (Apostolic Administrator 1939 – 1947.02.22)
o Bishop Nicolas Charikiopoulos (1917.01.03 – 1939.07.01)
o Bishop Dionisio Nicolosi (1890.06.06 – 1916.01.25)
o Bishop Fedele Abati, O.F.M. (1885.01.11 – 1890.06.06)
o Archbishop Andrea Policarpo Timoni (1875.07.30 – 1879.05.27)
o Bishop Ignazio Giustiniani (1830.03.15 – ?)

o Bishop Francesco Saverio Dracopoli (1814.12.19 – 1821.08.01).

And the same Timoni was later an archbishop of Izmir along with the Levantine name Tonna in the listing:

* Andrea Policarpo Timoni (1879 - 1904)
* Domenico Raffaele Francesco Marengo, OP (1904 - 1909)
* Giuseppe Antonio Zucchetti, OFM Cap (1909 - 1920)
* Giovanni Battista Federico Vallega (1921 - 1929)
* Eduardo Tonna (1929 - 1937)
* Joseph Emmanuel Descuffi, CM (1937 - 1965)
* Alfred Cuthbert Gumbinger, OFM Cap (1965 - 1966)
* Giovanni Enrico Boccella, TOR (1967 - 1978)
* Domenico Caloyera, OP (1978 - 1983)
* Giuseppe Germano Bernardini, OFM Cap (1983 - 2004)
* Ruggero Franceschini, OFM Cap (2004 - present).’
6- Andrew Simes also added this interesting anectode of family history: ‘My grandfather used to tell me this at my bedside when I was a child. The story goes as such: Joseph “Joe” Walker and his wife are very wealthy but cannot conceive children. This frustrates Joe as he wants an heir to his family fortunes. He comes across a beautiful boy and talks his parents into adopting him. This boy is my great-grandfather, Thomas Simes. Their house is opposite the modern-day Alsancak ferry station - first building on the left as you walk to the Our Lady of the Rosary church. Thomas, a fiesty fellow, misses his home so much that he jumps out of the window and runs back home. Joe Walker, upon seeing this, returns to Thomas’ house to speak to the family. While there, he sees Thomas’ cousin, Charlie-Joe and proposes to take him instead. This is agreed (I’m not sure about Charlie-Joe’s parents) and Charlie-Joe becomes a Walker’.
7- In January 2010, Andrew Simes together with his Catholic friend from Izmir, Omar Servisoglu set up a charitable project known as Saint Martin de Porres, dedicated to providing basic food and medicines to a small group of needy people given via the Alsancak Catholic Church. They will welcome contact to provide further information and from would be donors.
8- Between the 27th and 31st May 2010, Izmir, Andrew Simes exhibited selected photographs reflecting his wide travels across the globe, titled ‘South of Heaven’, a first for him - photos and details: followed by ‘A walk with Levantines’ (2010) and ‘Revelations’ (2012).
9- Using an antique beer bottle, kept for years in his grandfather’s house, as a starting point, Andrew Simes has pieced together the story of the the ‘Brasserie De La Pointe’ and the Prokopp family involved in this business - details:
10- Andrew Simes is currently working on various listings and databases to outline the under researched Greek heritage of Smyrna, including the List of notable Greek Smyrniotes, still being updated - viewable here:
11- Andrew Simes is the administrator of the ‘Izmir Levantine study group’, established in July 2010 with the aim of creating close cooperation between like minded amateur local researchers to preserve a portion of the shared heritage.
12- In December 2010 Andrew Simes with a friend noticed the artist inscription in Armenian script on one of the mural paintings at the Ss. Rosario Catholic Church of Alsancak, possibly indicating an origin from one of the former Armenian churches of the city, currently being investigated.
13- In April 2011 issue of the local ‘Travel and Leisure’ magazine, the Simes were interviewed, published with some photos from the past - view segment:
14- Unfortunately Alfred Simes passed away on 8th July 2011. God rest his soul. Click here to view a range of items photographed by his grandson Andrew Simes to celebrate his legacy.
15- Andrew Simes continued grandfather Alfred’s habit of sending a Christmas card to the British monarch every year and in January she received a letter from Queen Elizabeth herself with the words ‘...Therefore it is with much sadness, I have learned of his passing and extend my condolences to you and your family’ - this proved the Queen did read her correspondence and this fact and the charming story surrounding it helped make this a international news item in December 2015 - The Sun: / Huffington Post:

Simes Family, 1880s Izmir
Simes Family, 1880s Smyrna.


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