In December 1939, as Italian troops parachuted into nearby Albania, Margo Durrell boarded one of the last planes leaving Corfu, after staying on a few extra weeks, with Henry Miller, at the White House. It was time to escape the encroaching war. Henry heard later that month that Spiros Amerikanos had died in Corfu after a short illness.
The only happy news in this dark period was the birth of Nancy and Larry’s daughter, Penelope, in Athens, in June 1940.
As Nazi troops and their Italian allies advanced across Europe, Greece was given an ultimatum by Italy, from their stronghold in the recently invaded Albania: to either hand over Greek defences, or be invaded.
On October the 28th, 1940, the Greek Prime Minister famously replied “Oxi” (No!) Although the Greeks put up a fierce resistance, Corfu was eventually invaded by Italian forces in 1941.
Corfu Town and the coastline were bombarded.
Worse followed when German Nazis took over the occupation of the island in 1943.
Corfu Town and the Jewish Quarter were bombed relentlessly and the town burned for three days.
The Island’s Jewish population were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
Only 22 out of 2000 members of the Jewish community survived the camps to return to the island, after Corfu was liberated, in 1944.
At the end of the war, in 1945, Lawrence Durrell was living in Egypt.
Lawrence’s memoirs of his time living in The White House at Kalami, on his beloved Corfu, were published in this year.
The book - "Prospero's Cell" - was an instant hit with the colour-starved reading public of the post-war years.
Lawrence had put Corfu and The White House on the map for a wide audience of readers.
Sadly, the Greek Civil War continued the destruction and death across Greece from 1946, finally ending in 1949.
This was a tough decade in Greece and Corfu with famine, disease and war wiping out whole families and dividing communities.
Tassos’s wife Eleni died and everyday village life in Kalami was harsh and gruelling.