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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

-- abstracts - O


SBS and Major Jellicoe's role in the Battle of Leros          O


The antiaircraft warning network of Leros island during WWII O


The Battle of Leros according to the diary of Dr. George Repp O


Memories of the Battle of Leros, 1943 O


The Battle of Leros on the front page of a German newspaper of the time O


The Guns of Mount Scumbarda and Diapori (Serocampo) O


MemOria, abstracts from the documentary 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

NICK JELLICOE SBS and Major Jellicoe's role in the Battle of Leros In March 1943, British Special Forces underwent a fundamental shift in focus and structure. They had not long since lost their founder and wartime leader, David Stirling who had been captured and imprisoned in Colditz, the war had also shifted from North Africa to the northern reaches of the Mediterranean and Europe. Normandy and Sicily had become the next two great goals. The Special Air Service, Stirling’s innovative Special Forces, had become unwieldy, unfocussed and in need of new challenge. The 500 plus unit was split into two new groups, the new Special Raiding Squadron (SRS) under Paddy Mayne and the new 250-man Special Boat Service (SBS) under the command of Stirling’s previous nominal No.2, Major, the 2nd Earl Jellicoe. With him went most of the old SAS D Squadron, elements of the Greek Sacred Suqadron, Colonel Tsigantes’ Ieros Lochos and the 55 men of David Sutherland’s Special Boat Section (SBS) which had incorporated the old Roger Courtney’s No.8 Commando Folboat group. The men with Jellicoe included some extraordinary individual soldiers: Andy Lassen, the Dane who would become the only non-Commonwealth recipient of the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, Fitzroy Maclean, the British politician who would fight with Tito’s guerillas in Yugoslavia, John Verney who would write such memorable memories as A Dinner with Herbs and others. Australians, Americans and Greeks like Jason Mavrikis and Stefan Casulli and Pavlides. They were a mixed bag. Little outward signs of military decorum but men of extraordinary courage, determination and “nouse”. His commanders, Sutherland, Lapraik, Milner-Barry were exceptional. The new group’s focus was the Aegean, their first task to create the diversionary illusion of allied intentions to draw attention from Sicily and to pin down much needed German divisions to defend islands rather than the more central European targets in Italy or France. The overall commander, Colonel Henry ‘Kid’ Cator, to whom not only Jellicoe reported but also other special forces groups effectively became the first Director of Special Forces (DSF) a role that Stirling had wanted to build for himself. Alongside the SBS were also the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), the Levant Schooner Flotilla, Ieros Lochos and the Vladimir Peniakoff’s group, nicknamed Popski’s Private Army (PPA). 1942 and the first half of 1943 were focused on island raiding. In early September 1943, with Mussolini’s fall and Marshall Bagdolio’s decision to throw his lot in with the allies, new opportunities and priorities emerged: Churchill decided that this was the moment to use the Dodecanese as a means to encourage Turkish entry to the war or at least allied access through Turkey to new supply or assault routes. His thinking was strongly contrary to Greek interests. Special Forces would be used to pave and prepare the way for a stronger assault, first on Rhodes and then on the Dodecanese island chain. When Jellicoe failed in the almost impossible task of winning over Admiral Campioni’s acquiescence, the subsequent island strategy should have been rethought. Without the air cover Rhodes could have provided, 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

any under-strength assault was bound to be definitively disadvantaged from the very start. Churchill was not to be dissuaded. The Dodecanese folly, despite the heroic efforts of all those involved in the fighting, ran its course and led to one of the last major battlefield defeats for the British army in World War Two. The LRDG lost their leader: Jake Easonsmith was killed on the last day of the fight for Leros. Jellicoe send his number two off the island in case the same should occur. The SBS which had been so important in setting up the initial defences and supplying continuous battlefield intelligence switched all too often to a role in which its cunning and skills were used to save what remnants from capture by ferrying troops off the fallen islands to fight another day. One year later, on November 14 1944, after arriving on a bicycle, Jellicoe would lead his troops into Athens as the Germans pulled out and before ELAS communist guerrillas could gain a foothold in the nation’s capital. Side by side with the regional Military commander, General Spiliotopoulos, he reviewed his troops from the balcony of the Hotel d’Angleterre on Syntagma Square. After the war, Greece was never far from Jellicoe’s heart. In homage to the time fighting together for Greece’s freedom, the wartime commander of the Ieros Lochos, Christodoulos Tsigantes, lay at rest beside where Jellicoe would later be buried in a small cemetery at the latter’s Wiltshire home. When Greece was free from the military Junta, Tsigantes’s body was taken back to Athens by a platoon of Evzones. While Jellicoe was buried in soil that was brought from Greece by one of his Greek SBS comrades. 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

LUCIANO ALBERGHINI MALTONI The antiaircraft warning network of Leros island during WWII

The Aerial Warning Network aimed to protect the Dodecanese against enemy aircraft was based in a very fashioned techniques developed in Italy in the 30’s. Direct observation and acoustic detection with special equipment. No Radar equipment were installed before the 8 September 1943 German takeover. The acoustic equipment used was called Aerofono a very sophisticated passive amplifier but in Leros an unique heritage still stands, the “Muro d’Ascolto”, so called Listening Wall, practically a solid acoustic reflector made by bricks. It’s very ironical that only one identical survives near Messina, in another Island… Sicily. 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

PETER SCHENK The Battle of Leros according to the diary of Dr. George Repp

Georg Repp was born in 1909 in Darmstadt near Frankfurt and studied medicine in Munich, Giessen and Frankfurt. He got his military drill in 1938/38. In 1940 he took part on the West Campaign in France and in 1941 on the Balkans war. Probably in 1942 he was in the III.Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 440 on the island of Lesvos. The diary starts on 26.September 1943 when the battalion was transferred from Mytilini on Lesvos to Pireus by landing boats. From that day the diary follows the way of the battalion. There are plans made for the landing on Kos islands, called operation “Eisbaer” or ice bear. The battalion is loaded on a transport ship. On 3 October the landing on Kos takes place, the battalion is unloaded into landing boats and landed at Marmari. British Beaufighters unsuccessfully attack the German fleet of 4 transport steamers, 5 submarine chasers, 3 motor minesweepers, 8 ferry lighter landing boats, 4 “Q” sailing ships, so called submarine traps armed with a 8,8 cm gun, and two armed motor fishing vessels. The island is taken the next day. Wounded are cared for in field hospitals. The battalion is transferred to Kalymnos on 8 October. British destroyers shell the harbor and town of Kalymnos, sinking a transport steamer and damaging the house of Repp. On 11 November the attack of Leros is ordered after new landing boats have arrived and 4 ex Italian destroyers could be manned by German crews. 5 ferry lighters , 2 submarine chasers, 2 motor minesweepers, 7 engineer landing craft and smaller vessels transport the German landing force to Leros. The landing attempt on 12 November by the battalion on the East coast of Leros is beaten off by the Italian coastal batteries. In the next night most of the battalion is landed on Apetiki, only the boat with Repp is driven off again. He finally can land on Leros in the night of 14 November. He observes the taking of the castle of Leros on 15 November and on the following day the sizing of the British headquarter on Mt. Merovigli. The battalion is transferred to Samos on 22 November and back to Chios and Lesvos in December. 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

JULIE PEAKMAN Memories of the Battle of Leros, 1943 While many of you come here every year to commemorate the sinking of the Olga, we must not forget that this is also the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leros which involved British, Greeks, Italians and Germans. Some of the survivors were brave enough to tell me about the true tales of the horror of war – the hand-tohand-fighting, the confusion, the fear. Winston Churchill said, ‘If it were not for the bravery of the Greeks and their courage, the outcome of WWII would be undetermined.’ On Leros and neighbouring islands, civilians alive today still remember they were starving as no food was getting through the blockades. The Special Boat Squadron and the Long Range Desert Group played a vital role in defending Leros training in the Middle East desert. One of the first officers in Leros after the Italian surrender was Captain George Jellicoe, leader of the Special Boat Squadron. Under cover Greek agents were helping the SBS – men like Nikos Pyrovolikos. He worked with a group of other Greek civilians using fishing boats. The Long Range Desert Group fought long and hard in the Battle of Leros having landed by the Greek ship Queen Olga from Haifa to Leros arriving in the middle of an air raid. Major Guy Prendergast was Commander of the LRDG; Major Jake Easonsmith was appointed his deputy. The British 234th Battalion consisted of four main British regiments involved were the Royal Irish Fusiliers (RIFs), the 4th Battalion of the Queens Own Royal East Kent regiment, the 1st Battalion of King’s Own and the 1st Battalion of Queen’s Own Royal West Kents. Among the first of them to land on Leros was Johnson on September who recalled the confusion.

21 year old RIF Officer Ted

The Queen Olga had been used to help move British troops and equipment from Haifia to Leros. Ted Johnson remembered its sinking; he told me; ‘My first casualty on Leros was a Greek sailor who was killed on Olga. I helped pull him out of the water.’ The British destroyer Intrepid went down that same night. Once the bombing started, it was to become relentless until the end of the Battle of Leros. The Italian soldiers were told by the Italian Governor of Leros to swap sides in the middle of the war, a difficult feat. Some prisoners were assembled in Alinda after surrender on 16th November 1943, and finally all taken to the main port of Portolago (Lakki). Danish soldier Anders Lassen survived the Battle of Leros, but was killed in action in April 1945; Jake Easonsmith LRDG was killed on the last day of the battle on 16th November. He now lies in Leros war cemetery with his collegue, Alan Redfern, also killed in action on Leros. 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

RIF Private Paddy McCrystal recalled the loss of his comrades: He was hit in the head with a large piece of shrapnel, leaving a scar he would bear for the rest of his life. Captain Clifford Clarke and Sergeant George Hatcher escaped in small rowing boats were. First to Lipsi, then on to Turkey They recalled the kindness of the locals on Leros & Lipsi who helped them escape. The Prisoners of War were put on cattle trains to detention camps. Stalag 7A at Moosburg, British POWs talk to new inmates captured on Leros. One hundred and eighty-three British and Commonwealth soldiers lie in Leros cemetery. The Germans suffered around 1,109 casualties out of their 4,500 troops. One source reckons out of 525 Italian officers on Leros about 50 died in combat, and about 440 were shot by Germans. The British prisoners numbered approximately 3,200 men; the Italians POWs numbered 5,350. For all of the men who fought for Leros - be they British, Italian, Greek or German - it was to become one of the most significant, and certainly the most tragic, story of their lives. For those of us who remain, let us remember those who fought so bravely for a democracy we still cherish on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Leros. ‘They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them. Nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.’ 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

DIMITRIS KOSTOPOULOS The Battle of Leros on the front page of a German newspaper of the time In the autumn of 1943, after the Italian armistice, one after the other, the Dodecanese islands were occupied by the Germans. Leros was the only island that remained in the hands of the British and the Italians. On 12 November 1943, the Germans launched Operation Typhoon aiming at the occupation of the island. At 11:59, November 16, after five days of violent combats, Leros surrendered and passed into the hands of the Germans. The occupation of Leros, basically the last military success of the Nazi forces, was duly celebrated in Berlin. The newspaper Die Zeit (The Times) offers a characteristic example. On its November 18 issue, the occupation of Leros was the main front-page story under the title “Naval base of Leros Falls” and the subtitle ‘3,200 British and 5,300 Badoglians captured. Heavy losses suffered by the enemy”. Subsequently, the newspaper’s regular war correspondent, dr. R. Mitarbeiter writes: “Berlin 17.11. The Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht disclosed the occupation of the island of Leros in an extraordinary communique’. The occupation of the British naval base by the German forces was brought to completion on Tuesday afternoon. The communique’ reports the following: After four days of strenuous and uncertain battle against an enemy that was superior in number and armament, the British naval base of Leros was occupied by the German army and aviation troops, under the command of general Muller… 200 British officers and 3,000 troops under the commander of the island, General Tinley, as well as 5,000 Badoglians ( AN: i.e. the forces loyal to Badoglio, separated for propaganda purposes- from the rest of the Italians) under the command of Admiral Mascherpa, surrendered to the German landing forces. 16 British heavy anti-aircraft guns; 20 2cm guns; about 120 cannons, up to 15cm, and 80 anti-aircraft matches were kept as loot. 9 torpedo boats and escort destroyers; 2 patrol boats; 2 submarines; a gunboat and 4 enemy commercial ships, with a total capacity of 12,000 tons, were destroyed during the combats… The island of Leros is located in the south of Samos. Now Samos, the only Aegean island still possessed by the British, is surrounded by German bases and remains isolated…” In the inner pages of the newspaper there is a more recent correspondence from Leros with the indication “News from the Front” and the title “The first hours on the occupied port of Leros”. *** The original issue of the newspaper, donated by Theodoros Theodorou, is kept today at the General State Archives - Local Archive of Leros 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

HANS PETER EISENBACH The Guns of Mount Scumbarda and Diapori (Serocampo) When Leros became part of the Italian Empire, Italy began to fortify the island, which, with its natural blue water harbour, provided an important naval base in the East Mediterranean. All over the island, gun batteries were built and equipped with a variety of ordnance, from 152mm L50 long barrel naval artillery to BREDA 12mm machine guns. Pictures of such gun emplacements were shown during the Leros conference in 2016. The following briefing will show you the pre-war gun positions and guns and the IDENTIFIED gun positions as you can visit them nowadays on the hills of SCUMBARDA and DIAPORI. Some gun positions were destroyed in 1943 by bombs, but most of the positions were demolished by the British after WW II when handling over Leros to Greece due to a Turkish requirement. In 1957 Alistair Mac Lean wrote the novel “The Guns of Navarone”. Mac Lean was inspired for this purely fictious story with deep snow on the mountains of Navarone by the Battle of Leros in November 1943. In 1961 the producer Carl Foreman made out of the novel the film “The Guns of Navarone” with Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn. In imitation to the title of the novel and film, the today’s presentation is called “The Guns of Mount SCUMBARDA and DIAPORI”, showing you the real “Guns of Navarone”. In the first part of the briefing, I will show you reference photos of the 152mm, 102mm and 76mm guns used on SCUMBARDA and DIAPORI. Amongst these photos there are pictures from the Naval Museum “Museo tecnico navale” in La Spezia and the “Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum” in Haifa, showing the guns in excellent condition and very colourful. In the second part of the briefing I will show you Mount SCUMBARDA and its 152mm naval gun positions alongside photos taken by the Royal Italian Navy before the Second World War on Scumbarda and photos taken by myself during my visit on LEROS in recent years. In the third part of the briefing I will show you the 76mm Air Defence Gun positions then and today on Radio Pylon Hill attached to Mount SCUMBARDA. The fourth part of my briefing is dedicated to the pictures of the 20mm BREDA Anti Air Gun training of the Italian sailors on Mount SCUMBARDA with some surprising reference photos from nowadays. The fifth part of my briefing is showing the 102mm medium artillery gun positions at DIAPORI facing over bay of Serocampo to the island of Kalymnos. At the end of the briefing I will show you some photos of 1943, when the German campaign against British troops on Leros started. The anti-ship and air defense guns represented a major threat for the German landing forces in November 1943. Due to the fact that the Italian batteries were running out of ammunition the guns became useless in course of the battle. Nevertheless the gun positions were a primary target for the attacking German bombers and dive bombers from September to November 1943. 

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75th Battle of Leros international meeting, municipal teather of Lakki ‐ Leros,  sept 26th  2018 

YORGOS IATROU MemOria, abstracts from the documentary The documentary "memORIA" was produced in 2015 to highlight the greatest tragedy of the Mediterranean, the shipwreck of the ORIA steamer on February 12, 1944, near the island of Patroklos, not far from cape Sounion. ORIA sailed from Rhodes, passed from the port of Leros but never arrived to its destination. More than 4,100 Italian soldiers and officers, prisoners of the Germans, drowned that night. We, the citizens of Keratea, to which the beach of Harakas belongs, where the corpses were washed out, have not forgotten this tragedy. Our cultural association was the one which took the necessary initiatives, together with the local government, to erect a monument for ORIA on the coastal road near the island, published in Greek the book "The Caravan at the bottom of the sea" of Paolo Ciampi, and was the producer of the documentary. The documentary lasts 70 minutes, but you will only follow some excerpts chosen by the organizers of the event. I dedicate this summary to the memory of my uncle from Keratea, Sotiriou Iatrou, sailor at "Queen Olga", lost here, in the battle of Leros.

Gaius Valerius Catullus - Liber, Carmina CI Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias, ut te postremo donarem munere mortis et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem. Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum. Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi, nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias, accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu, atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale. Through many peoples and many seas have I travelled to thee, brother, and these wretched rites of death I bring a last gift but I speak in vain only to your ashes. Take from my hands these sad gifts covered by brother’s tears. Now and forever, brother, hail and farewell. 

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lectures from meeting <75th BATTLEofLEROS> // abstracts  

Municipal Teather – Lakki, Leros 26 sept 2018 // ATTI del convegno: <75th anniversary of Battle of Leros> [historical in...

lectures from meeting <75th BATTLEofLEROS> // abstracts  

Municipal Teather – Lakki, Leros 26 sept 2018 // ATTI del convegno: <75th anniversary of Battle of Leros> [historical in...