Battlefield Archaeology: The WW2 Italian submarine base in previously unpublished photos!

Bunker Archaeology, WW2, WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos by Panagiotis Brokos 



The Greek Dodecanese Islands were under Italian occupation from 1912 to 1943, when fascist Italy capitulated and swiftly changed sides, abandoning their nazi masters and taking sides with the Allies. The Germans then moved on to neutralise the Italian garrisons and took the islands for themselves, in the Autumn of 1943.

alimia map
Alimia island in the Dodecanese (“Twelve islands” in Greek), between Rodos and Halki islands

The Battle of Leros, as it is known today, is possibly the last victory of strategic importance for the German forces in the Aegean, while the thousands of Italians who were taken as prisoners by the Germans, were either executed on the spot as “traitors”, or drowned in the process of being transported to mainland Greece, with the example of “Oria” shipwreck in February 1944, which cost the lives of over 4,000 Italian Prisoners of War, thus making it the biggest naval tragedy of all time in the Mediterranean Sea.  

“Oria” shipwreck, the watery grave of 4,000 POWs in 1944 


German graffiti in the military barracks used by the nazis, after the Italians capitulated in September 1943

Greek researcher and WW2 enthusiast Panagiotis Brokos, from Rodos Island, recently visited the deserted island of Alimia, which was used as a naval base of the Regia Marina, an important hub for operations in the Mediterranean, which was also used as a submarine base.

Caricature of a German soldier on the wall of the barracks. Inscriptions in Greek below are post-war ones

After the Italians surrendered, the Germans quickly took over the Dodecanese islands, including Alimia and this exact position was the theatre of one of the last battles of World War 2, between Germans and the Greek Sacred Squadron on May 1st and 2nd, 1945. 

Another drawing of a German soldier

“The island of Alimia is like a time capsule” Panagiotis Brokos said. “Apart from the military installations, the anti-submarine nets and the inscriptions in the barracks, both Italian and German, we can clearly see the bullet holes on the walls, the vivid reminder of the hard battles fought on the island during May 1945”.

Women -even mermaids- a distant dream for soldiers at war

Found! Part of a Bf 109 belonging to JG27 in Rodos, Greece 


Bullet holes on the wall of the barracks, a testament to the bitter fighting that took place on the island in May 1945

FOUND! A Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero supporting structure for 250 kg bombs


The anti-submarine net lying on the beach

Battlefield Archaeology: The rare relics of Leros, 1943


Bullets and other WW2 relics scattered around the island

Autumn 1943: Operation “Taifun”, the Battle for Leros, the tragic end of the LRDG and the defeat of the British


The Italian naval base buildings are now deserted

The Battles for Kos and Leros, 1943 – the new edition of “Churchill’s Folly” 


View of the Regia Marina Headquarters

Leros Island, 1943: The underwater museum of WW2 aircraft wrecks and shipwrecks


Another WW2 installation in Alimia

FOUND! The Heinkel He111 of Leros, shot down on 14 November 1943


General view of the bay, which was used during WW2 by the Regia Marina and the Germans after 1943

Then and Now: Operation “Taifun”, the Battle for Leros, 1943-2016 


Anti-submarine net parts

FOUND! WW2 German Stuka Ju87 aircraft shot down in 1943 salvaged in Leros 


Anti-submarine net rusting away on the beach

Battlefield Archaeology: The forgotten bunkers of 1943 


Fire extinguisher
Italian prison in Alimia
Another interesting graffiti slowly fading away
An Italian submarine painted on the wall of the Regia Marina Headquarters in Alimia
Painting of an Italian destroyer
An Italian motor torpedo boat
Buoy used with the anti-submarine net. Another WW2 relic rusting in the wilderness of Alimia


The Italian fascist emblem is still visible

Close up of the Italian fascist emblem in Alimia
Another humorous German graffiti in the barracks of Alimia
Talented German soldiers painted the walls of the barracks in Alimia