By Pierre Kosmidis
Original painting: George Moris
The nazi invasion of Greece, initiated on April 6, 1941, dubbed “Operation Marita”, swiftly turned into a rapid advance for the Germans, despite the fierce battles that were fought across the northern borders of Greece with Bulgaria, in the “Metaxas Line”.
One largely forgotten episode of this struggle is the last dogfight, fought between the last remaining Hellenic Royal Air Force aircraft versus the Luftwaffe.
|A colourised version, by acclaimed artist Markos Danezis, of a Greek Bloch MB-151, strafed by German Bf-109s in Amfikleia, Greece, April 1941|
On April 15, 1941 (Holy Tuesday) just 12 Greek fighter aircraft, five Gladiators, five PZL P24 and two Bloch MB151 remained operational in the Vassiliki landing field (central Greece).
Early in the morning of the 15th, the Greek pilots sitting in their cockpits were waiting for the command to take off. German aircraft, Ju87 Stuka bombers accompanied by Bf109E’s, were flying towards the town of Trikala, close to the airfield.
The Greek fighters took off to intercept the Stuka dive bombers, but were almost immediately attacked by approximately twenty Bf109E’s, which were providing air support to the slow moving Ju87’s.
|The original black and white photo of the MB151 strafed at Amfikleia, Greece|
The dogfight did not last more than 10 minutes. Its outcome was the complete dominance of the Germans but not without cost.
The Germans either shot down or severely damaged five of the Royal Hellenic Air Force’s aircraft, while the Greeks claimed at least one Ju87 shot down, either by flight sergeant Mokkas, flying in his Bloch MB 151, or by flight sergeant Argyropoulos, flying in his PZL P24, according to various sources.
According to respected researcher and author Byron Tesapsides the Ju87 that was shot down belonged to the 2./St.G. 1 FF. flown by Fhnr. Walter Seelinger (vw.), Ju 87 B2 (A5+EK, W.Nr. 5889) and was a total loss: 100% m. BF. Gfr. Kurt Friedrich (v.), Luftkampf mit Jägern, 15.04.41 Trikala.
Many years after this last dogfight of the Hellenic Royal Air Force, researcher and historian Paris Theodoropoulos located the remains of flight sergeant Mokkas’ Bloch MB151 in the area of Raxa, close to Trikala (central Greece) and offered to the dead airman’s brother a piece of the aircraft that was destined to be shot down on April 15, 1941, during the last dogfight, most probably by Luftwaffe pilot Gustav Rödel, who claimed three victories on that day.