Battlefield Archaeology: One of the last battles of WW2 in May 1945

WW2, WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos: Panagiotis Mprokos

The war in Europe was almost over in Europe in late April, early May 1945. The Russians had conquered Berlin, the nazi leader Hitler had committed suicide and the western Allies were moving swiftly in the heartland of the 3rd Reich.

map
Rodos Island, on the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Africa

It was just a matter of days, before nazi Germany would unconditionally surrender, thus ending WW2 in Europe.

On the southeastern tip of Europe though, on the island of Rodos, Greece, over 10,000 German and Italian soldiers remained (6356 Germans and 4097 Italians).

thumb_640
Elements of the Greek Sacred Squadron (a.k.a. Sacred Band) disembark in Rodos, following the unconditional surrender of the Germans in May 1945

Germans were also stranded on other islands of Greece, such as Leros, Crete, Milos and smaller ones, where the garrisons could not be evacuated in time, when the Germans started their withdrawal from mainland Greece in October 1944.

73
German observation posts and slit trenches in the area of Vounara. PHOTO: Panagiotis Mprokos

According to sources, Rodos was under Axis occupation up until May 1945 by the following forces:

Germans

Panzer-Grenadier-Brigade „Rhodos“
• 4 Panzer-Grenadier-Bataillon [each 2 coys]
from different Festungs-Infanterie-Bataillon 999
• 1 Panzer-Abteilung [3 coys]
• 1 Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung [3 coys]
from PanzerAufklärungs-Abteilung 999
• 1 Artillerie-Abteilung [3 btty‘s]
from IV./Artillerie-Regiment 999
• 1 Pionier-Landungs-Bataillon (Hptm Bunte) [3 coys]
from 3./Pionier-Bataillon 999 & 3./Landungs-Pionier-Bataillon 86 (Olt Biggemann) & Landungs-Pionier-Kompanie 780 (Hptm Bunte)
6. Infanterie-Boot-Grupppe/15. Landungs-Flottille (Lt z.S. BERGER)
Heeres-Flottille „Rhodos“ some 30 boats
Küsten-Jäger-Kompanie „Rhodos“ (Olt Bertermann)
Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie-Regiment 627 [18 btty‘s]
Hafen-Schutz-Flottille „Dodekanes“ (Kptlt Brachvogel)

72
Slit trench at Vounara, Monolithos area in Rodos island. PHOTO: Panagiotis Mprokos

Italians
Lt-col. Ferdinando Mittino and 4097 troops

75
German position in Vounara, Rodos Island. PHOTO: Panagiotis Mprokos

In that context the Allies organised Operation “Ted”, initially scheduled for April 30th, 1945 but delayed until May 1st/2nd, as reconnaissance units were still gathering intelligence on the island.

A6s

Operation “Ted” focused on the neutralisation of coastal batteries and observation/communication posts on the western shores of Rodos island.

Col Lapraik and German Kommandant leave conference at Atimakeyer
LtCol Lapraik during the surrender of the German forces in the Dodecanese

A contingent of British Raiding Forces, under the command of LtCol Ian Lapraik, along with elements of the Greek Sacred Squadron , local guides and support from a fleet of British, Greek, French destroyers and 9 landing crafts stormed the beaches of Rodos close to Pyrgos.

Men of the Bhopal Regiment take over a sentry position from a German soldier following the arrival of the first British and Indian forces on Rhodes after the signing of the unconditional surrender of German forces.
Men of the Bhopal Regiment take over a sentry position from a German soldier following the arrival of the first British and Indian forces on Rodos Island, after the signing of the unconditional surrender of German forces.

The element of surprise was vital and the Allies moved quickly, engaging the Germans and following a brief firefight 12 Germans were killed, while 13 more were taken as POWs. On similar attacks on other spots of Rodos, more Germans and Italians were either killed or captured.

77
WW2 ammo in the area of the battle. Photo: Panagiotis Mprokos

The Allies’ casualties of Operation “Ted”, according to LtColonel Ian Lapraik amounted to three slightly injured.

74
The view of the western beaches of Rodos from Vounara and the German observation post. Photo: Panagiotis Mprokos

Panagiotis Mprokos, a WW2 enthusiast and researcher from Rodos island, provided www.ww2wrecks.com with photos of the German positions in Vounara, close to Monolithos village, where he documented the still existing slit trenches and other defensive constructions, as they survive to this day.

76
The view of the western beaches of Rodos from Vounara and the German observation post. Photo: Panagiotis Mprokos