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Spotlight: Slim and Xan

An address scrawled on a slip of paper led to love.

Corporal Herbert ‘Slim’ Wrigley escaped from a German prisoner of war camp in Salonika, Greece in September 1941 and fled south to Katerini where he was sheltered by English-speaking schoolteacher, Ioannis Papadopoulos.

Slim subsequently fought alongside Greek partisans, facing hardship and great danger until 1943 when he was evacuated to neutral Turkey. Ioannis, meanwhile, was caught and executed by the Nazis on 13 January 1944—leaving his family destitute.  

Papadopoulos’ daughter, Xanthoula, was reminded of Slim in 1949 when:  

 ...one windy night sitting around looking at some family photos... a small piece of paper fell out. On it was a name and an address in Melbourne, Australia. The name was Herbert Wrigley (Slim), our special digger friend... 

Xanthoula wrote to Slim for assistance. He remembered his protector’s beautiful daughter and sponsored her passage to Australia. They were married in 1951, five weeks after her arrival. Slim died in 1995. 

I still marvel that a horrific event like war changed the course of our lives, and that an address scrawled on a slip of paper led to love.

- Xanthoula Wrigley (nee Papadopoulos)


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Reviewed 01 December 2021