GEORGIOS (HADJI)FRANGOULI ANDREADIS (1872-1945)
After finishing school, Georgios F. Andreadis went to sea and managed to obtain the qualification as a master when he was just over 21 years of age. He continued serving on sailing ships until 1901, when he took over the command of an 1880-built Greek cargo steamer, the JOANNIS MOUMOUTZIS acquired in that year by a group of entrepreneurs based on the island of Syros. Georgios F. Andreadis secured a percentage of the shareholding in this steamship and by the time she was sold to other Greek interests in 1905, he had accumulated sufficient funds to be able to pursue his vision of becoming an independent steamship owner.
On July 27, 1900, Georgios F. Andreadis married Polytimi Kakaris, also from Vrontados, grandaughter of a renowned priest on the island, Father-Leontios Christoforidis. They made a happy family and had three sons, Frangoulis, Stratis and Spyros and two daughters, Katerina and Athina.
A year after the sale of the JOANNIS MOUMOUTZIS, members of the Andreadis family acquired the 1877-built Dutch steamship SIRIUS, which was renamed KATINA under the Greek flag. Georgios F. Andreadis, who served as her captain, acquired the majority share of the steamer in 1909. The vessel remained under the ownership of Georgios F. Andreadis and his partners, the brothers Theologos, Leonidas and Sotirios F. Plytas, until 1912 when she was sold to Greeks residing in Constantinople.
In the meantime, Georgios F. Andreadis had in 1911 acquired his first steamship as an independent owner, the 1882-built ALEXANDROS S. SINIOSSOGLU. The ship was renamed THETIS and was placed under the Greek flag, with Andreadis assuming its command.
The master mariner from Vrontados enjoyed success over the following years, allowing him to purchase yet another steamship. At the outbreak of WWI in 1914, he acquired the 1891-built British steamship CAPE CORRIENTES, which was renamed VRONTADOS after his birthplace. The ship sailed for three years until June 30, 1917, when she was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.
It is worth noting that throughout his career Georgios F. Andreadis showed great interest and compassion towards his birthplace and his compatriots. When Chios was liberated from Turkish rule in 1912, Andreadis was at sea as the captain of the THETIS; and on his return home he offered the local authorities a substantial sum. From that time on he habitually distributed food and clothing twice a year to the underprivileged people of Chios.
Moreover, when the great statesman and founder of the Liberal party Eleftherios Venizelos formed his government in Thessaloniki and asked for a loan to support his cause, the politically minded Georgios F. Andreadis – who was at the time leader of the Liberal party in Chios – offered a loan of £20,000 in support of the Venizelos’ government. Throughout the Great War and until 1918, Andreadis sponsored the operations of a Hospital in Chios for reservists and their families and bore the cost of their healthcare and medications.
From the early years of the War, Georgios F. Andreadis also stood by the Greeks fighting on the front line in Macedonia and especially his compatriots from Chios, to whom he often sent supplies and food by ship.
Further to the support offered to his compatriots in combat, Andreadis established in the post-war years the so-called “economic food ration” offering £1,000 as an initial contribution, and donated another £1,000 to Eleftherios Venizelos to be distributed to the families of Chians who had lost their lives in the War.
Georgios F. Andreadis was decorated by the Greek State with both the Silver and Gold Cross of the Order of the Saviour, for his various contributions during the Great War; as well as the Medal of Officers of the British Army. He was also decorated by the Abyssinian government with the Order of Ras Tafari.
At the beginning of January 1920, at a time when most Greek shipowners were trying to rebuild their fleets following their war losses, Georgios F. Andreadis acquired in partnership with Pantelis G. Lemos – his daughter’s father-in-law – the small Swedish cargo steamer CITOS, built in 1880 . The steamship was renamed SPYROS, placed under the Greek flag, and sailed until December 19, 1920 when she sank; fortunately without any loss of life.
The Asia Minor disaster shook the patriotic Andreadis. He swiftly suggested to the then General Governor of Chios Georgios Papandreou – later a Prime Minister of Greece – to entrust him with the Argention building, a Sanatorium which was idle at the time. Andreadis’ intention was to establish an orphanage for 6-13 year old War victims and refugees taking on himself in full its operational and maintenance costs. Unfortunately, his ambition was blocked due to formalities and the prevailing bureaucracy of the time and it never materialised. Despite this, Andreadis did succeed in finding many ways to give as much support as possible to both students and the children of immigrants, offering them clothing and school supplies during these difficult years.
Being at that time the owner of a single steamship, the THETIS, Andreadis delayed further expansion in shipowning during the early 1920s; due both to the dramatic developments in Greece following the Asia Minor disaster, as well as the crisis in the world shipping market. When the situation began to improve by 1923, Georgios F. Andreadis acquired the 1900-built British steamship SOUTHPORT, which was registered in Greece as the TITHIS. A few years later, in 1925, he acquired yet another steamship, the Portugese DONDO, which was also registered in Greece as the DORIS. Unfortunately, the latter was lost on October 5, 1926, when she went aground in flames north of the island of Oinoussai during a voyage from Batumi in the Black Sea to Samsun and Izmir with a cargo of oil in drums. The loss of the ship did not discourage Andreadis, who the following year began to expand his fleet through successive acquisitions of steamships. He was also at that time active on the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners, on which he served from 1925 until 1929.
The three steamships which joined the fleet of the master mariner from Vrontados in 1927, were the 1900-built DORIS, the 1906-built DIONI and the 1896-built OKEANIS. Taking advantage of the rising market over the next few years, Andreadis sold two of these ships in 1929, the DORIS to Turkish interests and the OKEANIS to John A. Tachmindjis. Prior to this, in 1928, he had sold the THETIS for demolition, a ship that had served him well for the 17 years under his ownership. By taking these initiatives, he managed to avoid being over-exposed as the owner of a large fleet during the Great Depression. This severe worldwide economic depression that broke out at the end of 1929 following the Crash of the New York Stock Exchange, caused huge financial problems to the majority of shipowners around the world.
Throughout this crisis, Andreadis succeeded in operating his fleet of three ships, the TITHIS, the DIONI and the 1895-built ALCYON, without any major problems. The latter, had been placed under his Group’s control in 1928 and was jointly owned by his wife Polytimi and his daughter Katerina – wife of Antonios P. Lemos.
Parallel to his shipping activity, Georgios F. Andreadis never ceased having an interest in his birthplace. While he was working on the development of his fleet with the acquisition of new ships, he built a mansion at his own expense at a prime location in the port of Chios. It was in this building that the Polyclinic of Chios, managed by his son-in-law Antonios P. Lemos – a general practitioner – began to operate, offering invaluable services to the inhabitants of the island thanks to its high quality medical staff and equipment. It was an important philanthropic contribution that aided those who could not afford to pay for their own medical care.
The activity of Georgios F. Andreadis in the shipping field decreased considerably during the 1930s. In this period he was actively involved in politics having been elected as a Member of the Parliament representing Chios, as well as being named as a Member of Congress in 1929. Moreover, it was during this period that his sensibilities towards his homeland inspired him to establish the Maritime School of Vrontados, which later became a Secondary school and later still a Maritime Academy.
In 1934, Georgios F. Andreadis – having also established offices in Athens – acquired the 1910-built steamship NAGOS from the Livanos Group. Renamed THETIS A., it was the last ship acquired by this renowned, self-made shipowner and the only one that was trading under his banner when WWII broke out in September 1939. The other three ships had already been sold; the TITHIS and ALCYON for demolition in 1933 and 1935 respectively, while the DIONI had been transferred in 1935 to other members of the Andreadis family.
On July 14, 1940, and while Greece was still neutral, the THETIS A. – which since its acquisition had been placed under the agency of the S. G. Livanos office in London – was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U 52 while on voyage from Rosario, Argentina to Limerick, Ireland loaded with a cargo of grains. Nine of its crew members lost their lives.
This tragic incident was to seal the maritime path of the renowned Greek entrepreneur and great patriot, who five years later passed away at the age of 73; almost at the same time as the end of the most destructive war that the world had ever seen.
Georgios F. Andreadis was leaving behind him significant achievements and a rich legacy to a worthy son, Stratis, who until then had embarked on an impressive career in the worlds of Academia and Law. However, such was the impression left by the entrepreneurial image of his father, that over the next four decades Stratis Georgios Andreadis was to become one of the most accomplished and celebrated personalities in the domain of Greek business and public affairs.