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Greek Partisan Navy in WWII

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Soviet cogitations: 258
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 02 Mar 2017, 15:40
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. Significantly, the monarchist government committed many massacres against the civilian population with direct British support, often exploiting former German collaborationists. 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).



SOURCES:
Most of the data come from the Greek and Russian wikipedia pages and related greek articles as main sources.
German source from site historisches-marinearchiv.de database (actions of German aux. armed boats)
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IONIAN SEA
The ELAN Second Squadron officially covered the Ionian Islands area, few interesting operations known from Greek sources.
There is no specific German mention source about the area (considering also the loss of documents and the retreat), but all the incidents appears real due full seizures of targets and partisan admitted losses.


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 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).



CORINTO GULF
NOTE: Partisan naval in the Corinto Gulf is extremely unknown. In official Greek database, there is no mention about a specific section of ELAN located in the Gulf. However, it is possible some boats were dispatched from the nearby second Squadron (Ionian Islands) or first Squadron (Peoloponnese) they were had-hoc small boats by ELAS ground forces. All the activity reported on this front came from German sources (quite interestingly, because German sources lack details of the other areas!)


19 March 1944
Motor-schooner Eleni (52 GRT) sunk by partisans off Antikyra, in the Bay of Corinth, while sailing to the Zante Island for the German Army (cargo unclear).
Later raised and repaired by the Greek owner. It is unclear if the attack occurred from ground or with motorboats.


19 May 1944
German sources report that schooner Aghia Paraskevi (24 GRT) sunk by partisans in Strava harbor. However, this is disputed and the vessels is also reported as sunk by Allied aircraft on 9 May or lost on sea for unclear reason off Itea on 20 May. Even if confirmed a partisan involvement, it was a ground action and not a naval attack.


27 May 1944
German auxiliary patrol boat Argo suffered 1 WIA after fire from moored partisan motorboats


1 July 1944
Close Nafpaktos, the German landing craft SF-266 attacked by ground partisan forces with light fire, minor damages and 2 WIA.


30 July 1944
German auxiliary patrol boat Argo received fire (without result) from partisan boats.



ARGOLIC GULF
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.
Interestingly, ELAN never instituted a proper numbered Squadron in the Area but rather defined it as Independent Squadron (likely due the temporary nature).



SARONIC GULF
The ELAN 3rd Squadron (Euboic, Malian and Saronic Gulfs) covered the operations in the Gulf. There is almost no information about the Squadron actions in Greek sources, but a single incident reported by the German sources.

Between 12 and 28 April 1943
Italian small minelayers RD-17, RD-26 and German auxiliary armed boats GA-54 involved in anti-partisan operations.




EUBOIC GULF
The ELAN 3rd Squadron (Euboic, Malian and Saronic Gulfs) covered the operations in the Gulf. There is almost no information about the Squadron actions in Greek sources, but a single incident reported by the German sources.


14 April 1943
Action of Gardikios Bay
German auxiliary armed boats GA-02, GA-26 and GA-60 clashed with a group of ELAN forces, capturing three armed boats.
On the first two auxiliary armed boats, Germans suffered 5 KIA, 4 WIA.


Between 1 and 11 May 1943
German auxiliary armed boat GA-59 involved in anti-partisan operations in Euripus strait.




PAGASETIC GULF
Extremely poor information about this area. Few successes reported by partisan sources.
The Fourth Squadron covered the area of Pagasetic Gulf and Pelion. Interestingly, one of the three Partisan claims is confirmed also by German 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).
Details unclear: possibly, all Greek boats hired by Germans.

On August 1944 unidentified partisan boat boarded and seized a German “tug”. This third claim actually match with a direct German loss:
On 6 August 1944, the German schooner Agios Andreas (28 GRT)(German sources approximated at 30GRT) was seized by partisans while sailing from Skiatos Island to Volos. Remained as partisan prize until the end of the war. Apparently the schooner was carrying a cargo, it is unclear if supplies or weapons/ammunition. NOTE: it is a rare partisan success with a full German confirmation! This likely because vessel integrated in a German transport company, even if retaining a Greek name.


5 October 1944
German submarine chaser UJ-2110 (ex-Greek auxiliary minelayer Korgialenios) sunk with gunfire a schooner north of Skiathos Island. Unclear details, possibly it was a partisan supply boat heading for Pagasetic Gulf.
Image

Ship in 1931, serving the Hellenic Navy as the auxiliary minelayer Korgialenios
Soviet cogitations: 258
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 02 Mar 2017, 15:46
AEGEAN SEA
ELAN Sixth Squadron operating in northern Aegean Sea Chalkidiki peninsula formed the strongest, most armed and most organized sub-unit of the ELAN (and the most effective).
Image

Unidentified partisan boat from site marinavasca.eu

August 1943
ELAS ground forces seized the boat (cargo of building materials) that would be later kept hidden until entering service in ELAN as Chalkidiki, a prominent vessel of the partisan fleet (see subsequent actions starting from May 1944). In a similar incident, the boat Agios Athanasios seized, but later returned to the original Greek owner.


Unclear day of fall 1943
ELAN begun employing a fast speedboat named Xelogiástra to carry load of supplies along the coast.
On her last mission, she stopped due engine problems and a German plane strafed her. Crew left the boat and successfully escaped, while a group of Greek collaborationists seized the boat.


December 1943
When ELAS partisans liberated Dafni, they seize the vessel Agios Dimitrios in harbor (cargo: 20 tons of wheat), two German soldiers POW on it.
Apparently, she was the same vessel converted as hospital-ship in July 1944.
(NOTE: Agios Dimitrios was a common name for small ships)


25 March 1944
German auxiliary submarine chaser UJ-2141 (sailing ship) engaged partisans at Damouchari beach (Mount Pelio). Possible it was action against ground forces.
Interestingly, the vessel sunk by British air raid the following month Kythera Island (south of Peloponnese) and local ELAS forces recovered weapons from the wreck sunk in low waters.


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!).
Details unclear: possibly, it was a Greek’s owned ship hired by German.


In the last days of May, the same group of units boarded and seized the armed tug Zefyros outside Stratoni.
Shortly later they seized the German tug Adolfos (renamed by partisans Cholomontas) (possibly original name was Adolf) at Porto Koufo. Shortly later Partisans claimed to have seized other 4 vessels (not confirmed).
Another vessel seized was sailing ship Agios Georgios (cargo: 200tons of wheat)
Details unclear: possibly, all Greek boats hired by Germans.


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).


30 July 1944
ELAN ships in coordination with ELAS ground forces attacked a German lighter ferry close Sarti.
The lighter managed to escape, but Germans suffered 2 KIA and 9 POW (apparently left on the beach) including the captain.
It is unclear identity of the lighter.


18 August 1944
Unidentified partisan boats boarded and seized the supply boat Panagia (full of cargo).
While unconfirmed, the very same seizure of the boat support the partisan claim: however, the target likely owned by Greeks and hired by Germans.


20 August 1944
Unidentified partisan boats boarded and seized the supply boat Agios Konstantinos (cargo of oil).
While unconfirmed, the very same seizure of the boat support the partisan claim: however, the target likely owned by Greeks and hired by Germans.


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 “enemy tanker”, carrying 150 tons of fuel to 10tons of 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 Army 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. Apparently, the vessel was unmanned (likely anchored) when it was seized, like the following incident, it is likely the vessel was rated as a simple transport carrying the load of fuel.


14 September 1944
Unidentified partisan boats seized five Bulgarian “small tankers” (each reported to be close 600tons) attempting to flee to Turkey.
The seizure appears a confirmed event: all the five vessels (described as tankers, but likely small transports) built locally in Thasos by the local Bulgarian administration, and brought by partisans to Ierissos ELAN’s headquarters).


On the same day an unidentified partisan boat seized two German small boats (both carrying a gun of 75mm).
Probably, partisans seized two boats, likely Greek-owned, used by the German Army to transport the guns.


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. There was no Kriegsmarine known loss (even if data are incomplete), and it is possible the target was an Army’s manned local boat.



Battle of Eleftheridon
On 25 September 1944 occurred the largest naval clash involving the Partisan Greek flotilla, northeast of Stratoni.
ELAN dispatched the following armed boats: Thasos, n°5, Chalkidiki, Laokratia, Cholomontas and tug Zefyros kept as reserve, to intercept enemy ships sailing away from Lemnos to Stavros.
According Greek sources, partisans encountered two armed enemy ships (described sometimes even as submarine chasers), and engaged them in battle, reportedly inflicting high casualties (20-25 estimated killed).
On their sides, partisans suffered hit on Cholomontas (1 KIA, 3 WIA).
German sources give a different but interesting account: partisans attacked the armed transport boat GN-106 (previously VB-6, of the Lemnos flotilla), that was trying to sail to Stavros.
According German sources, reporting old Greek ones, the boat captured by partisans (1 KIA, others POW) and brought to Mytilini. While the seizure is not confirmed by modern Greek account, it is possible the vessel was indeed sunk after battle damage (or truly seized, but due lack of partisan documents this will likely remain unclear). Nevertheless, the battle resulted in ELAN success achieving a full victory over an armed Kriegsmarine unit.



6 October 1944
Unidentified partisan boat seized a German a German “small tanker” close Athos.
While unconfirmed, the very same seizure of the boat support the partisan claim: however, the target was likely a Greek schooner or boat, carrying feuel.


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


16 October 1944
German landing craft MFP F-898 reported a skirmish against partisans while evacuating troops from Lemnos Island. While details are unclear, it is possible she engaged partisans boats (see battle claim on following day).
German sources confirm F-898 intentionally shelled and sunk the tank lighter Ertha, likely to prevent enemy seizure.


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


Image

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


END OF THE WAR
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).
Soviet cogitations: 258
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 05 Dec 2018, 16:37
MAJOR UPDATES:
Large rework after searching the German database historisches-marinearchiv.de.
1) Inserted fragmented data about skirmishes in Corinto, Euboic and Saronic Gulf
2) One of the many partisan claims, 6/August/44 in Pagasetic Gulf now fully confirmed and detailed because vessel served under a German shipping company
3) Inserted an extra interesting partisan loss (Xelogiástra, Aegean Sea)
4) Discovere details of the largest engagement, the "Battle of Eleftheridon", with Greek partisan sources over-estimating enemy forces, but Germans confirm a combat loss.
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