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Greek Partisan Navy in WWII

Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 02 Mar 2017, 15:40
Greek Partisan Navy during WWII.

The naval experience of Partisans in Greece during WWII was for some way similar to the Yugoslavian one (viewtopic.php?f=149&t=48457 ) , but had some key differences. Like in Yugoslavia, the most strong partisan movement was communist (ELAS) and since 1944 it built an own naval force (ELAN: Greek People’s Liberation Navy) with auxiliary vessels and schooners captured and re-armed. These vessels were successful in harassing local German supply lines between islands and shore garrisons however, the Greek campaign differentiated from the Yugoslavian one for the outcome. While in Yugoslavia, the communist partisans managed to achieve support from the western Allies, in Greece the United Kingdom remained a stern supporter of the Royalist armed forces in exile. Antagonism quickly escalated in open military confrontation toward the end of the war, and will ends in the bloody Greek Civil War shortly later. While in Yugoslavia a considerable naval historiography survived the conflict, most of ELAN documents and reports has been lost, scattered or destroyed. Additionally most of German naval documents for the 1944 campaign in Aegean Sea suffered a similar fate due the German retreat.

NOTE: Due lack of sources and details, many events about the Greek partisan campaign in Aegean Sea remain poorly described even in Greek sources. Additionally, Greek sources are sometimes contradictory because originated from personal war memories of survived veterans.

NOTE: Partisans committed multiple sabotages in harbors with use of limpet mines. Such attacks are not recorded in this list, likewise each German coastal anti-partisan offensive resulted in seizing and destruction of hundreds of civilian fishing boats (blamed, sometimes correctly, to secretly acting as supply/transport boats for partisans).

Most of the data come from the Greek and Russian wikipedia pages and related greek articles as main sources.
Pics come from site


7 July 1944
Partisan armed schooner Agios Dimitrios was the most significant active unit into Ionian Sea. She was manned by 14 sailors (Commander Símo Loukéri̱) weighted 8 tons and carried light weapons and one Breda heavy machine gun. On that day, Agios Dimitrios attacked a German supply schooner, but she was repelled by anti-aircraft fire from the target. The arrival of 3 German fast assault boats forced Agios Dimitrios to hide close the outlet of Aspropotamos river, from that new position she spotted the German schooner Lesina (unclear if she was the first target) sailing toward Makropopulos island. A team of 3 partisans opened fire from ground while Agios Dimitrios approached the schooner and boarder her. German sailors were shot.
The seized schooner was brought to the partisan-controlled village of Rodia. The seized cargo of 80tons of explosive material included anti-tank and anti-personal mines.
It is interesting that British officers were far from happy to see the cargo in the hands of the ELAS and offered (unsuccessfully) to buy it.
Later partisans scuttled the schooner (the anchor has been preserved and kept in museum).

19 July 1944
Partisan armed schooner Agios Dimitrios embarked several important officers of the ELAS (who were attempting to leave Kefalonia Island, due heavy German offensive). While reaching the mainland’s shore, German troops ambushed and sunk her. According different sources, between 21 and 26 sailors and ELAS officers were killed.
It is interesting that despite being part of the communist ELAN naval forces, the schooner carried a religious name. She appears to be the most significant ELAN unit active in Ionian Sea.

13 September 1944
In Ithaca Island, partisans attacked the harbor and seized the tug Maria Antonietta (mixed German-Italian crew) after the action of the partisan boat Demokratia. German units (possibly assault boats) counter-attacked and sunk both the tug and the Demokratia. Human losses included 2 partisans and 17 Italian sailors (who defected to partisans, according Greek sources).

Partisan naval activity begun in October 1943, in 8 months Partisans claimed to have seized multiple enemy boats but it is unclear how many were captured due raids in harbors and how many due boarding on sea. Partisan sailors were actively engaged in ground combat (suffering heavy losses), Germans re-seized many boats or scuttled them in harbors (total number of vessels seized and re-captured is up to hundreds!). Coastal villages saw also heavy deportation of civilians committed by German troops.

Extremely poor information about this area. Few successes reported by partisan sources.
On May 1944 unidentified partisan boat boarded and seized a German supply motorboat (cargo of ammunition)
On June 1944 unidentified partisan boat boarded and seized the schooner Skiathos (integrated in the flotilla).
On August 1944 unidentified partisan boat boarded and seized a German tug.
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 02 Mar 2017, 15:46
Note: Partisan flotilla operating in northern Aegean Sea Chalkidiki peninsula formed the strongest, more armed and more organized sub-unit of the ELAN (and the most effective).
Unidentified partisan boat from site

12 May 1944
Partisan armed boats Chalkidiki, Thasos and Ammouliani begun the first naval campaign: they boarded and seized the boat Agios Nikolaos.
Cargo included weapons: 1 tons of explosive (later used to create grenades), one 105mm gun, 3 rifles, 4 pistols. The ship was sailing to Lemnos Island’s garrison (according a different source this seizure occurred much later, on 15 August 1944!).

In the last days of May, the same group of units boarded and seized the armed tug Zefyros.
Shortly later they seized the German boat Adolfos (renamed by partisans Cholomontas). Shortly later Partisans claimed to have seized other 4 vessels (not confirmed).

By July Partisans re-organized a second separate flotilla in the area, including even an hospital ship: Agios Dimitrios (homonym of the Ionian Sea vessel).
According Greek sources, by this month, 15 targets has been seized on sea (not confirmed).

18 August 1944
Unidentified partisan boats boarded and seized the supply boat Panagia (full of cargo).

20 August 1944
Unidentified partisan boats boarded and seized the supply boat Agios Konstantinos (cargo of oil).

22 August 1944
The flotilla made a landing operation using the motor ship Volga near Mount Athos, coordinating with the ground ELAS forces.

29 August 1944
15 miles east of the Great Lavra Monastry, boats of the flotilla seized an enemy tanker carrying 150 tons of fuel in addition to lubricating oil. There is lack of details for ship’s identity, but it is likely she was not properly a tanker, rather a Greek small ship used by Germans for that purpose. This seizing was a key success, because ELAN supplied the fuel to the the 11° ELAS Division, significantly helping for the final offensive in Makedonia.

14 September 1944
Unidentified partisan boats seized five Bulgarian small tankers (each reported to be close 600tons) attempting to flee to Turkey.

On the same day an unidentified partisan boat seized two German small boats (both carrying a gun of 75mm).

On the same day, a German armed boat (probably auxiliary) chased by unidentified partisan boat, hit and surrendered. Attack coordinated with ELAS ground forces. Germans suffered 12 prisoners including a lieutenant.

Battle of Eleftheridon
On 25 September 1944 occurred the largest naval clash involving the Partisan Greek flotilla, north-east of Stratoni.
Two unidentified German submarine-chasers (almost surely former Italian corvettes) were sailing back from Lemno Island carrying 500 soldier to Stavros.
ELAN dispatched the units: Thasos, n°5, Chalkidiki, Laokratia,. Tug Zefyros was kept as reserve.
Battle lasted for 3 hours and Partisans claim Chalkidiki and Laokratia chasing the enemy, damaging the submarine-chasers and causing 25 killed and 60 wounded.
This claim can’t be confirmed and while it is possible Germans suffered some losses, it appears exaggerated.
Partisans suffered a direct deadly hit on Cholomontas: however only 1 sailor died and 3 were wounded.
Despite the damage, ELAN managed to face in front combat Kriegsmarine units, but this is the only known detailed engagement.
As curiosity, this battle match the results of the Yugoslavian partisan navy, that (like ELAN) faced only one battle against corvette-sized German units, with a similar outcome.

6 October 1944
Unidentified partisan boat seized a German small tanker close Athos.

8 October 1944
Three unidentified partisan boats fought a skirmish with four German armed boats, claiming up 10 Germans killed (unconfirmed and probably exaggerated).

17 October 1944
Four unidentified partisan boats fought a skirmish with four German armed boats, claiming up 20 Germans killed (unconfirmed and probably exaggerated).

Partisans on unidentified boat: fights often included boarding and use of small-arms fire.

During the fighting between ELAS and the British Army in December 1944, ELAN supplied ground forces with food and ammunitions. There are no known clashes with the Royal Navy.

28 February 1945
To satisfy agreement with Allies, ELAN disbanded on this day. At the peak, it included 1200 men and women.

Today there is a monument for the ELAN sailors in Antikyra (after years of silence due the anti-communist military governments in Greece).
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