Dodecanese campaign

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Dodecanese campaign
Part of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of World War II
Nomos Dodekanisou.png
Location of the Dodecanese Islands (in red) in relation to Greece
Date8 September – 22 November 1943
Location
Result German victory
Territorial
changes
German occupation of the Dodecanese
Belligerents
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Italy
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Naval Support:
Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa
Flag of Greece (1822-1978).svg Greece
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Poland
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Inigo Campioni   (POW)
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Luigi Mascherpa   (POW)
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Felice Leggio   Skull and Crossbones.svg
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Robert Tilney   (POW)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg L.R.F. Kenyon   (POW)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Ulrich Kleemann
Strength
55,000 Italians [1]
5,300 British [1] [2]
7,500 Germans [3]
Casualties and losses
Italian:
5,350 killed & wounded [2]
44,391 captured [1]
British:
4,800 casualties [2]
113 aircraft destroyed
1 cruiser crippled
3 cruisers damaged
6 destroyers sunk
4 destroyers damaged
3 submarines sunk
4 submarines damaged
10 minesweepers & coastal defence ships sunk [4] [5]
1,184 casualties [2]
15 landing craft destroyed

The Dodecanese campaign of World War II was an attempt by Allied forces to capture the Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea following the surrender of Italy in September 1943, and use them as bases against the German-controlled Balkans. Operating without air cover, the Allied effort failed, with the whole of the Dodecanese falling to the Germans within two months, and the Allies suffering heavy losses in men and ships. [6] The Dodecanese campaign, lasting from 8 September to 22 November 1943, resulted in one of the last big German victories in the war. [7]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Italian Islands of the Aegean 12 Islands formerly ruled by Italy

The Italian Islands of the Aegean were a group of twelve major islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea, that — together with the surrounding islets — were ruled by the Kingdom of Italy from 1912 to 1943 and the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. When the Kingdom of Italy was restored, they remained under Italian possession until 1947.

Contents

Background

The Dodecanese island group lies in the south-eastern Aegean Sea, and had been under Italian control since the Italo-Turkish War in 1911. During Italian rule, the strategically well-placed islands became a focus of Italian colonial ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Rhodes, the largest of the islands, was a major military and aerial base. The island of Leros, with its excellent deep-water port of Lakki (Portolago), was transformed into a heavily fortified aeronautical base, "the Corregidor of the Mediterranean", as Benito Mussolini, the Italian leader, boasted. An early British attempt to contest Italian control of the Dodecanese, codenamed Operation Abstention, was thwarted in February 1941, when Italian forces recaptured the island of Kastellorizo from British commandos.

Dodecanese Former prefecture in South Aegean, Greece

The Dodecanese are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the wider Southern Sporades island group.

Aegean Sea Part of the Mediterranean Sea between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas

The Aegean Sea is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas, or between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In the north, the Aegean is connected to the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea by the straits of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus. The Aegean Islands, numbering over are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Crete and Rhodes. Along with the Ionian Sea, which it connects to the southwest, the Aegean Sea contain some 1415 islands. The sea reaches a maximum depth of 3,544 meters, to the east of Crete.

Italo-Turkish War 1911–12 war between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy

The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War was fought between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ottoman Empire from September 29, 1911, to October 18, 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy captured the Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet (province), of which the main sub-provinces (sanjaks) were Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripoli itself. These territories together formed what became known as Italian Libya.

After the Battle of Greece in April 1941 and the Allied defeat in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, Greece and its many islands were occupied by the Axis powers. With the defeat of Axis forces in the North African campaign in spring 1943, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, who at least as far back as the Gallipoli campaign in World War I had a deep interest in the region, turned his sights on the islands. The British envisaged an operation to capture the Dodecanese and Crete, to deprive the Axis of excellent forward bases in the Mediterranean and to apply pressure on neutral Turkey to join the war. This would promote a favorite idea of Churchill's, that of a "route through the Dardanelles to Russia as an alternative to the Arctic convoys." [8] In the Casablanca Conference, the go-ahead was given and Churchill ordered his commanders to have plans ready for 27 January 1943. [9]

Battle of Greece Invasion of Allied Greece by Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany during WWII

The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion of Allied Greece by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in April 1941 during World War II. The Italian invasion in October 1940, which is usually known as the Greco-Italian War, was followed by the German invasion in April 1941. German landings on the island of Crete came after Allied forces had been defeated in mainland Greece. These battles were part of the greater Balkan Campaign of Germany.

Battle of Crete battle during WWII on the Greek island of Crete

The Battle of Crete was fought during the Second World War on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany began an airborne invasion of Crete. Greek and other Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island. After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would defeat the invasion. The next day, through communication failures, Allied tactical hesitation and German offensive operations, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell, enabling the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north of the island. Allied forces withdrew to the south coast. More than half were evacuated by the British Royal Navy and the remainder surrendered or joined the Cretan resistance. The defence of Crete evolved into a costly naval engagement; by the end of the campaign the Royal Navy's eastern Mediterranean strength had been reduced to only two battleships and three cruisers.

Axis occupation of Greece Military occupation

The occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers began in April 1941 after Nazi Germany invaded Greece to assist its ally, Fascist Italy, which had been at war with Allied Greece since October 1940. Following the conquest of Crete, all of Greece was occupied by June 1941. The occupation in the mainland lasted until Germany and its ally Bulgaria were forced to withdraw under Allied pressure in early October 1944. However, German garrisons remained in control of Crete and some other Aegean islands until after the end of World War II in Europe, surrendering these islands in May and June 1945.

Operation Accolade called for a direct attack on Rhodes and Karpathos, with three infantry divisions, an armored brigade, and support units. Landings at Crete, which was too well fortified and had a strong German garrison, were dropped. The main problem faced by the planners was the difficulty of countering Fliegerkorps X of the Luftwaffe because of a lack of air cover, as American and British aircraft were based in Cyprus and the Middle East. This challenge was exacerbated by the demands of the upcoming Allied invasion of Sicily. The Americans were skeptical about the operation, which they regarded as aiming mostly at post-war political benefits for Britain and an unnecessary diversion from the Italian campaign. They refused to support it, warning the British that they would have to go it alone. [10]

Operation Accolade

During World War II, Operation Accolade was a planned British amphibious assault on Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea. Advocated by the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as a follow-up to the capture of Sicily in 1943 from Operation Husky, it was cancelled on 25 December 1943 to focus on the assault on Anzio. The allies did not, then, gain all of the Dodecanese. Most notably, the Germans still had possession of Rhodes. The operation in the Dodecanese, though, kept many German troops occupied in the area.

Karpathos Place in Greece

Karpathos, also Carpathos, is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island it forms the municipality of Karpathos, which is part of the Karpathos regional unit. Because of its remote location, Karpathos has preserved many peculiarities of dress, customs and dialect, the last resembling those of Crete and Cyprus. The island has also been called Carpathus in Latin, Scarpanto in Italian and Kerpe in Turkish.

<i>Luftwaffe</i> Aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II

The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.

As an Italian surrender became increasingly possible, in August 1943 the British started preparations to take advantage of a possible Italian-German split, in the form of a smaller version of Accolade. A force based on the 8th Indian Infantry Division assembled and American assistance in the form of P-38 Lightning long-range fighter squadrons was requested. As a result of the Quebec Conference and the US refusal to assent to British plans, the forces and ships earmarked for Accolade were diverted barely a week before the surrender of Italy in the Armistice of Cassibile on 8 September. [11]

8th Infantry Division (India) combat formation of the Indian Army

The 8th Mountain Division was raised as the 8th Indian Infantry division of the British Indian Army. It is now part of the Indian Army and specialises in mountain warfare.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning airplane

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a World War II–era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. Developed for the United States Army Air Corps, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" by the Japanese. The P-38 was used for interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

Armistice of Cassibile armistice between the Kingdom of Italy and the Allies

The Armistice of Cassibile was an armistice signed on 3 September 1943 by Walter Bedell Smith and Giuseppe Castellano, and made public on 8 September, between the Kingdom of Italy and the Allies during World War II. It was signed at a conference of generals from both sides in an Allied military camp at Cassibile in Sicily, which had recently been occupied by the Allies. The armistice was approved by both King Victor Emmanuel III and Italian Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio. The armistice stipulated the surrender of Italy to the Allies.

Prelude

Fall of Rhodes

The Dodecanese Islands Dodekanes.png
The Dodecanese Islands

On the announcement of the armistice (surrender), the Italian garrisons on most of the Dodecanese Islands either wanted to change sides and fight with the Allies or go home. Anticipating Italian surrender, German forces, based largely in mainland Greece, had been rushed to many of the islands to maintain control. The German forces were part of Army Group E commanded by Luftwaffe General Alexander Löhr. The most important German force in the Dodecanese was the 7,500-strong Sturm-Division Rhodos (Assault Division Rhodes, Generalleutnant Ulrich Kleemann) commanding. This division was formed during the summer on the island of Rhodes, which was the administrative center of the Dodecanese Islands and possessed three military airfields. Because of this, Rhodes was the principal military objective for both the Allies and the Germans.

Army Group E was a German Army Group active during World War II.

Alexander Löhr Austrian Air Force commander and German general

Alexander Löhr was an Austrian Air Force commander during the 1930s and, after the annexation of Austria, he was a Luftwaffe commander. Löhr served in the Luftwaffe during World War II and became commander-in-chief in Southeast Europe. Löhr was one of three former Austrians who rose to the rank of Generaloberst within the German Wehrmacht. The other two were Erhard Raus and Lothar Rendulic.

Generalleutnant, short GenLt, is the second highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).

On 8 September 1943, the Italian garrison on the island of Kastelorizo surrendered to a British detachment, which was reinforced during the following days by ships of the Allied navies. The next day, a British delegation, headed by Lord Jellicoe, was dropped by parachute on Rhodes, to persuade the Italian commander, Admiral Inigo Campioni, to join the Allies. Swift action by the German forces forestalled the Allies. Without waiting for the Italians to decide, Kleemann attacked the 40,000-strong Italian garrison on 9 September and forced it to surrender by 11 September. The loss of Rhodes dealt a critical blow to Allied hopes. [12] The government of the Kingdom of Italy surrendered and many Italian soldiers in the Aegean were tired of the war and had become opposed to Mussolini. Italian Fascist loyalists remained allied to Germany in the Greek campaign. German forces in Greece convinced 10,000 Italians in the Aegean to continue to support their war effort.

Despite this setback, the British High Command pressed ahead with the occupation of the other islands, especially the three larger ones of Kos, Samos, and Leros. The Germans were known to be overstretched in the Aegean, while the Allies enjoyed superiority at sea and the air cover provided by 7 Squadron, SAAF and 74 Squadron, RAF (Supermarine Spitfires) at Kos was deemed sufficient. [13] It was hoped that from these islands, with Italian cooperation, an assault against Rhodes could be eventually launched. [14] From 10 to 17 September, the 234th Infantry Brigade (Major-General F. G. R. Brittorous) coming from Malta, together with 160 men from the Special Boat Service, 130 men from the Long Range Desert Group, A Company of the 11th Battalion, Parachute Regiment [15] and Greek Sacred Band detachments had secured the islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Samos, Leros, Symi, Castellorizo and Astypalaia, supported by ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Hellenic Navy. The Germans quickly mobilized in response. By 19 September, Karpathos, Kasos and the Italian-occupied islands of the Sporades and the Cyclades were in German hands. On 23 September, the 22nd Infantry Division (Lieutenant-General Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller) garrisoning Fortress Crete was ordered to take Kos and Leros. [16]

Battle

Battle of Kos

Having identified the vital role of the Allies' only airfield at Kos, Fliegerkorps X bombed it and the Allied positions of the island, from 18 September. Reinforcement aircraft arrived, giving the Germans 362 operational aircraft in the Aegean by 1 October. [17] The British forces on Kos numbered about 1,500 men, 680 of whom where from the 1st Durham Light Infantry, the rest being mainly RAF personnel and c.3,500 Italians of the 10th Regiment, 50th Infantry Division Regina. On 3 October, the Germans effected amphibious and airborne landings known as Unternehmen Eisbär (Operation Polar Bear) and reached the outskirts of the capital later that day. The British withdrew under cover of night and surrendered the next day. The fall of Kos was a major blow to the Allies, since it deprived them of vital air cover. [18] The Germans captured 1388 British and 3145 Italian prisoners. [19] On 3 October, German troops committed a war crime by executing the captured Italian commander of the island, Colonel Felice Leggio and nearly 100 of his officers.[ citation needed ]

Battle of Leros

After the fall of Kos, the Italian garrison of Kalymnos surrendered, providing the Germans with a valuable base for operations against Leros. Unternehmen Leopard (Operation Leopard) was originally scheduled for 9 October but on 7 October, the Royal Navy intercepted and destroyed the German convoy headed for Kos. Several hundred men and most of the few German heavy landing craft were lost; replacements were transported by rail, and it was not until 5 November that the Germans had assembled a fleet of 24 light infantry landing craft. To avoid interception by the Allied navies, they were dispersed among several Aegean islands and camouflaged. Despite Allied efforts to locate and sink the invasion fleet, as well as repeated shelling of the ports of German-held islands, the Germans suffered few losses and were able to assemble their invasion force, under Generalleutnant Müller, for Unternehmen Taifun (Operation Typhoon) on 12 November.

The German invasion force consisted of personnel from all branches of the Wehrmacht, including veterans from the 22nd Infantry Division, a Fallschirmjäger (paratroop) battalion and an amphibious operations company Küstenjäger (Coast Raiders) from the Brandenburger special operation units. The Allied garrison of Leros consisted of most of the 234th Infantry Brigade with c.3,000 men of the 2nd The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Lieutenant Colonel Maurice French), the 4th The Buffs (The Royal East Kent Regiment), 1st The King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) and the 2nd Company, 2nd Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment (Brigadier Robert Tilney), who assumed command on 5 November. There were also c.8,500 regular Italian soldiers, mostly naval personnel, under Admiral Luigi Mascherpa.

Leros had been subjected by the Luftwaffe to a prolonged aerial bombardment, starting on 26 September, which had already caused significant casualties and damage to the defenders of the island and supporting naval forces. In the early hours of 12 November, the invasion force in two groups approached the island from east and west. Despite failures in some areas, the Germans established a bridgehead, while airborne forces landed on Mt. Rachi, in the middle of the island. After repulsing Allied counter-attacks and being reinforced the following night, the Germans quickly cut the island in two and the Allies surrendered on 16 November. The Germans suffered 520 casualties and captured 3,200 British and 5,350 Italian soldiers. [20]

Since the operational theater was dominated by a multitude of islands and the Allies and Germans had to rely on naval vessels for reinforcements and supplies, the naval component of the campaign was especially pronounced. Initially, naval presence on both sides was low, most of the Allied shipping and warships had been transferred to the central Mediterranean in support of the operations in Italy, while the Germans did not have a large naval force in the Aegean. The Germans had air superiority, which caused the Allies many losses in ships. Vice Admiral Werner Lange, German Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Aegean, tried to reinforce the isolated German garrisons and carry out operations against Allied garrisons, while transporting Italian prisoners of war to the mainland. Allied ships tried to intercept these ships, resulting in heavy losses. On 23 September, HMS Eclipse damaged the torpedo boat TA10 and sank the steamer Gaetano Donizetti, which had 1,576 Italian captives on board. [12] Another disaster occurred a month later, when USAAF B-25 Mitchells and RAF Beaufighters sank the cargo ship Sinfra, which had 2,389 Italian POWs, 71 Greek POWs and 204 German guards on board, of whom only 539 were saved. [19]

On 14 September, the first Allied loss occurred, when the Greek submarine RHN Katsonis, was rammed and sunk by U-boat hunter UJ 2101. The Luftwaffe also intervened on 26 September, when 25 Junkers Ju 88s sank RHN Vasilissa Olga and HMS Intrepid at Lakki Bay, Leros, followed on 1 October by the Italian destroyer Euro and on 9 October sank HMS Panther and seriously damaged the cruiser HMS Carlisle. At the same time, the short range of Hunt-class destroyers HMS Aldenham, RHN Pindos and RHN Themistoklis prevented them from intercepting the German invasion convoy headed for Kos. [19] Further losses on both sides followed; after the loss of Kos and friendly air cover, the Allied navies concentrated on supply missions to the threatened islands of Leros and Samos, mostly under the cover of night. From 22–24 October, HMS Hurworth and Eclipse sank in a German minefield east of Kalymnos, while RHN Adrias lost its prow. Adrias escaped to the Turkish coast and after makeshift repairs, sailed to Alexandria. [19]

On the night of 10–11 November, destroyers HMS Petard, HMS Rockwood and ORP Krakowiak bombarded Kalymnos and HMS Faulknor bombarded Kos, where German forces were assembling for the attack on Leros. The German convoy reached Leros on 12 November, escorted by over 25 ships, mostly submarine chasers, torpedo boats and minesweepers. During the subsequent nights, Allied destroyers failed to find and destroy the German vessels, limiting themselves to bombarding the German positions on Leros. With the fall of Leros on 16 November, the Allied ships were withdrawn, evacuating the remaining British garrisons. [20] By that time, the Germans had also used Dornier Do 217s of Kampfgeschwader 100 (KG 100), with their novel Henschel Hs 293 radio-controlled missile, scoring two hits. One caused severe damage to HMS Rockwood on 11 November and another sank HMS Dulverton two days later. [20] The Allies lost six destroyers sunk and two cruisers and two destroyers damaged between 7 September and 28 November 1943. [6]

Aftermath

After the fall of Leros, Samos and the other smaller islands were evacuated. The Germans bombed Samos with Ju 87 (Stukas) of I Gruppe, Stukageschwader 3 in Megara, prompting the 2,500-strong Italian garrison to surrender on 22 November. Along with the occupation of the smaller islands of Patmos, Fournoi and Ikaria on 18 November, the Germans completed their conquest of the Dodecanese, which they held until the end of the war. Only the island of Castellorizo off the Turkish coast was held by the British, and was never threatened. The Dodecanese campaign was one of the last great defeats of the British Army in World War II, and one of the last German victories, while others have labelled it a hapless fiasco which was badly conceived, planned and executed as a "shoestring strategy". [21] The German victory was predominantly due to their possession of air superiority, which caused great losses to the Allies, especially in ships and enabled the Germans to supply their forces. The operation was criticized by many at the time as another useless Gallipoli-like disaster and laid the blame at Churchill's door; perhaps unfairly so, since he had pushed for these efforts to be made far sooner, before the Germans were prepared.

The British failure to capture the Dodecanese sealed the fate of Jews living there. Although Italy had passed the anti-Jewish law of the Manifesto of Race in 1938, Jews living on the Dodecanese islands (and Italian-occupied Greece) experienced much less antisemitism than in the German and Bulgarian occupied zones of Greece, where harsher and harsher policies were implemented, culminating in March 1943 with deportations to the death camps in occupied Poland. The Italian surrender, the German takeover and the failure of the Allied offensive meant that the haven disappeared. Most of the Dodecanese Jews were murdered by the Germans; 1,700 members of the ancient Jewish community of Rhodes (of a population of about 2,000) were rounded up by the Gestapo in July 1944 and only some 160 of them survived the camps. [22] [23] [24] [25] Out of 6,000 Ladino-speaking Jews in the Dodecanese, about 1,200 people survived by escaping to the nearby coast of Turkey.

Italian prisoners of war were transferred to the mainland by the Germans in overcrowded unseaworthy vessels, which led to several accidents, of which the sinking of the SS Oria on 12 February 1944 was the most deadly. More than 4,000 Italians died when the ship sank in a storm; other ships were sunk by British forces.

See also

Related Research Articles

Leros Place in Greece

Leros is a Greek island and municipality in the Dodecanese in the southern Aegean Sea. It lies 317 kilometres from Athens's port of Piraeus, from which it can be reached by an 8.5-hour ferry ride. Leros is part of the Kalymnos regional unit. The island has been also called in Italian: Lero.

HMS Dulverton was a Type II Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1941, she saw service during the Second World War until being damaged by German aircraft in 1943 during the Battle of Leros, and was scuttled.

Military history of Greece during World War II

The military history of Greece during World War II began on 28 October 1940, when the Italian Army invaded from Albania, beginning the Greco-Italian War. The Greek Army was able to halt the invasion temporarily and was able to push the Italians back into Albania. The Greek successes forced Nazi Germany to intervene. The Germans invaded Greece and Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941, and overran both countries within a month, despite British aid to Greece in the form of an expeditionary corps. The conquest of Greece was completed in May with the capture of Crete from the air, although the Fallschirmjäger suffered such extensive casualties in this operation that the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht abandoned large-scale airborne operations for the remainder of the war. The German diversion of resources in the Balkans is also considered by some historians to have delayed the launch of the invasion of the Soviet Union by a critical month, which proved disastrous when the German Army failed to take Moscow.

Battle of Leros battle of the Dodecanese Campaign during WWII

The Battle of Leros was the central event of the Dodecanese campaign of the Second World War, and is widely used as an alternate name for the whole campaign. The Italian garrison in Leros was strengthened by British forces on 15 September 1943. The battle began with German air attacks on 26 September, continued with the landings on 12 November, and ended with the capitulation of the Allied forces four days later.

Greek destroyer <i>Vasilissa Olga</i>

Vasilissa Olga was the second and last destroyer of her class built for the Royal Hellenic Navy in Great Britain before the Second World War. She participated in the Greco-Italian War in 1940–1941, escorting convoys and unsuccessfully attacking Italian shipping in the Adriatic Sea. After the German invasion of Greece in April 1941, the ship escorted convoys between Egypt and Greece until she evacuated part of the government to Crete later that month and then to Egypt in May. After the Greek surrender on 1 June, Vasilissa Olga served with British forces for the rest of her career.

The 234th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army, raised during World War I and later reformed during World War II.

Battle of Kos battle between British, Italian and German forces

The Battle of Kos was a brief battle between British, Italian and German forces for the control of the Greek island of Kos, in the then Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea.

Operation Abstention conflict

Operation Abstention was a code name given to a British invasion of the Italian island of Kastelorizo, off Turkey, during the Second World War, in late February 1941. The goal was to establish a base to challenge Italian naval and air supremacy on the Greek Dodecanese islands. The British landings were challenged by Italian land, air and naval forces, which forced the British troops to re-embark amidst some confusion and led to recriminations between the British commanders for underestimating the Italians.

Italian colonists were settled in the Dodecanese Islands of the Aegean Sea in the 1930s by the Fascist Italian government of Benito Mussolini, Italy having been in occupation of the Islands since the Italian-Turkish War of 1911.

50th Infantry Division Regina

The 50th Infantry Division Regina was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Regina Division was a regular division of the Italian Army. It was formed on 1 March 1939 in the Italian Islands of the Aegean and formally dissolved in the same place 11 September 1943, although some sub-units continued to fight until 16 November 1943.

The SS Gaetano Donizetti was an Italian merchant ship, captured by Nazi Germany, which sank on September 23, 1943 in the Aegean Sea, killing some 1,800 people on board, 1,576 Italian prisoners of war and 220 German guards and crew.

Levant Schooner Flotilla WWII allied naval organization

The Levant Schooner Flotilla was an allied naval organization during World War II that facilitated covert and irregular military operations in the Aegean Sea from 1942–1945. It was primarily organized by the British Royal Navy and consisted of a series of commandeered caïques, or local schooners, manned by British sailors, special forces, and Greek volunteers.

This is a list of events that happened in 1943 in Greece.

HMS Hurworth was a Second World War Type II Hunt-class escort destroyer of the British Royal Navy. She spent most of her career in the Mediterranean. She was lost to a mine in the Aegean Sea in 1943.

Battle of Rhodes (1943)

The Battle of Rhodes took place between Italian and German forces for the control of the Greek island of Rhodes, in the then Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea.

Luigi Biancheri Italian military personnel

Luigi Biancheri was an Italian admiral during World War II.

After the fall of Greece to the Axis powers in April–May 1941, elements of the Greek Armed Forces managed to escape to the British-controlled Middle East. There they were placed under the Greek government in exile, and continued the fight alongside the Allies until the liberation of Greece in October 1944. These are known in Greek history as the Greek Armed Forces in the Middle East.

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