THE BATTLE OF LEROS
ISLAND , DODECANESE , GREECE
- November 16 , 1943
With the Italian capitulation on 8 September 1943 the conditions for the
intervention of Great Britain were created in the space of Aegean and more specifically in the
Dodecanese. The notorious 1 "Battle of Leros" was one of the most important in this sector because with the fall of Leros and the disembark of German troops in the island it closed and formally aylaj'a in this theatre of operations.
THE GERMAN ATTACK
The attack had the code name "Enterprise Taifun" and it included 4 teams of battle, that each one brought the name of its leader' and had given points of
disembark. The team Von Saldern, that included the 11/16 battalion of grenadiers of the 22th constitution of Luftwaffe was targeted to land at the gulf of Kryfo. Team Schadlich, that
included the 1 company Kustenjager disembarked at Pitiki. Team Doerr, included forces of the 440th
constitution of grenadiers that disembarked in the gulf of Vagia's. Team Aschoff disembarked forces of the 440th constitution of grenadiers in southern utmost of the Gulf of Goyrna. For the transport of these forces, a fleet of 5 passenger ships of the navy capable of transporting 150/170 men each one, 13 landing crafts able to carry 70 men, 5 barges Zimbel for transport of materials and 9 speedboats of 30 men each.
DAY 1 -
12 NOVEMBER 1943
The German landing craft fleet roughly around 22:00 the previous day left from the harbour of Kos, from Mastihari of Kos and from Kalymnos. Between Telendoy and Kalymnos they met the English minesweeper BMYS - 72 which they achieved in tricking and capturing it, transporting it to Kalymnos. In the boat they also found a precious element, the naval codes. After this event they continued their trip to Leros. There is still no agreement between Italian and English sources as to who saw the enemy first. In the region of Easterly Leros sailed the English MJ 456, that saw the hostile boats. Returning to the gulf of Alinta it notified the Guard but because of problems in communication the information was not transmitted to all artillery . The Italian side reports that the fleet war noticed from the Us 555 together with the Us 559.
They were caught later from the Germans in the gulf of Kryfo. Their Governors however achieved with an intelligent way to sink them, the governor of the Us 555 was executed later. In any case in 3:00 English MJ 456 informed the guard for the Eastern formation.
The western formation: the real reaction of defence began the first hours where the ships were seen from the artillery in the south, the " Ducci ^at Katsoyni, and the Saint Georgioy at Skoymparda against the western hostile formation that went for landing at Goyrna and achieved to force them to turn back.
The Eastern formation. It was separated in three parts. The first fires from the Italians in the Eastern formation from the artillery 127 at Merovigli. However around 6:00 and under continuous fire began the landing. The landing crafts that transported III/440th battalion after the intense fire of artillery 899 at Mplefoyti were forced to turn back to Farmakonisi, apart from one that sank at the island
Strogili and 35 surviving men swam to the island and later were caught by Italian boats. The department of the 5th company/65 that landed at Vagies was also caught and 70 men were arrested by the 1 I English of the D/4 Baffs and the Italians. The men of Von Saldern that landed at Above and Down Zimi and mainly in the gulf of Kryfo began the assent to the hill of Klidi, where they was the artillery Ciano. Italian and a s group of English of battalion Kings Own receded with big losses. Until the evening they occupied the artillery Ciano at Klidi. At Aspri Pounta and in Apeitiki 3 high speed landing crafts disembarked the
amphibious commandos of Brandenburg. The Italians did not manage to intercept them after a big hordes of battles the Germans occupied the two Italian firearms. The English force that came for help did not change nothing. Around 13:27 fell the first 400 parachutists in a daring operation between Alinta and Goyrna at Raxi and Managed despite the losses to create a bridgehead aiming at the occupation of central department so that it cuts the island in two.
Duration all the marine and land operations the German E planes struck continuously the places defending
causing big destructions. Until the midnight of the 12th of November the Germans were stabilised in the
A)team of battle of Van Saldern took over Vigla — Klidi — Panagies — Gulf Alinta.
B)the Bradempoyrgker at Pitiki had possession of two firearms.
C)the parachutists achieved to find themselves in the main street, that links Partheni with Saint Marina and cut the island in two. The unsuccessful landing of the II/16th battalion and again the III/440th forced the administration of German Greeks to place in direct readiness the 15 company of parachutists of the Brandenburg for cast at Lero and the III/1th battalion of Brandenburg. From the side of English Italian brigadier Tinley called the governors of the 1st
battalion Kings Own and the 2nd battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers in order to try to reoccupy Raxi but because of bad co-ordination the operation was postponed.
DAY 2 - 13 NOVEMBER 1943
In the first morning hours brigadier Tinley tried to help the departments at Pitiki and the Castle but because of bad co-ordination the operation failed. Despite unfavourable weather German aids reached from the battalions that could not land the previous day. One landing craft due to damage stopped at Panagies and it was destroyed by the intense fire of the defenders. At Pitiki the Kuestenjaeger were strengthened and accomplished to drive back the counter-attacking English they also arrested many captives. Early that morning parachutists fell again in the same part but with big losses and three Ju 52 transporting planes were shot down. One is found still today in the gulf of Alinta in good condition in a depth roughly about seventy metres. At night the artillery Lago at Pitiki was taken over and the Germans headed over to the Castle. The English navy with the 8 flotilla counter - attacked bombarding Klidi. And later on left and then new ships arrived to take their place but the Germans sunk off shore of Kos the H. M. S. Dulverton with a special remote-controlled bomb Hs 293 A - 1 that were transported by dornier' 217K3 of the 12/211 (Ai Lia) and 763 (Saint Konstantinos). Most Italian antiaircraft and a lot of firearms were henceforth except battle but also the Germans had lost until that moment 2 landing craft of their navy, 8 other landing craft, 1 ship of assault and 2 ships of infantry, making re-supplying complicated.
DAY 3 - 14 NOVEMBER 1943
The Third day was a day of harsh battles without decisive result. At around 02:00 with the fires of the Destroyer Belvoir and ECHO begin the counter-attack from the King's Owns with head commander lieutenant colonel French at Pitiki. They did not accomplish however anything because of bad co-ordination. The Germans counter — attacked at around 05:00 and achieved driving them back and to reach Saint Marina. 55 men were arrested and lieutenant colonel French was killed. His grave is found today in the English cemetery of Leros. The English counter-attack at Raxi also did not attribute something appreciable apart from certain precarious territorial conquests.In the evening more German aids came from the rest of the 111/440 at Pitiki. The hill of Klidi changed hands. At night the Germans occupied English aids from Samos. The losses of both the sides were enough. The defenders understood that the fate of Leros was doubtful.
DAY 4 - 15 NOVEMBER 1943
In the morning at 08:30 began the last English counter-attack that tried to change the course of battle but with small and
precarious results. In the afternoon they stabilised their positions 1) in the northern line of Zimi, Klidi, and northern area of Goyrna. 2) in the southerners from Panteli through the houses of Leros through the above street of Saint Marina, into Raxi until the southern area of Goyrna. The utilisation of the special unit L. R. D. G. for harassment of Germans in Saint Marina had as a result the death of lieutenant colonel Easonsmith. Late that night the Germans reached Angira and into the radio buildings in the southerner side of Merovigli 1 and threatened
DAY 5 - 16 NOVEMBER 1943
It was the last day of the battle. At 07:30 brigadier Tinley sends signal in the Cairo that describes the situation. From 04:00 the Germans strike Merovigli from the north and East and little by little with the support of aviation by afternoon they take over the English headquarters. At 17:30 lieutenant Max Vantray with 20 commandos arrests brigadier Tinley.
Immediately afterwards Italian head admiral Mascherpa also surrenders. At 18:30 the English Italian forces orders to "ceased fire". That is how the resistance in the Leros finished after rough days of siege. The head of L. R. D. G. colonel Pedergast, major Lord Jelicoe of S. B. S. but also many English and
Italian soldiers slipped into Turkey.