Information, research and photos by Konstantinos Kirimis
During 1943, the German occupation forces in Greece, were expecting an Allied landing.
In fact, this was deliberately circulated by the Allies, codenamed “Operation Animals”, as a distraction of the invasion that would take place in Italy, thus keeping resources and personnel in Greece, in order to face the expected Allied landings.
Operation Animals was a mission by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), in cooperation with the Greek Resistance groups ELAS, Zeus, EDES, PAO and the United States Army Air Force.
The operation took place between 21 June and 11 July 1943 and included an organized campaign of sabotage in Greece, to deceive the Axis Powers into believing that Greece was the target of an Allied amphibious landing, instead of Sicily.
Despite the mission’s success, the Greek civilian population suffered from mass reprisals by the Germans and British intervention into the internal affairs of the Greek resistance exacerbated the tensions between its various components.
Facing this perspective, the Germans strengthened their fortifications, all over Attica.
Among the newly built, fortified strongholds, one was built in the western coast of Attica (Voula and Glyfada suburbs).
Today, this complex lays well-hidden, beneath the soil of Attica.
The complex features various trenches and pillboxes (mainly Tobruk-type).
The highlights of the complex are two huge underground bunkers, built from reinforced concrete, at a depth of 10 meters below the surface.
Both bunkers feature many similarities.
Each one has 4 entrances (two in each side, conjoining in a single entrance-corridor).
The entrances are protected from the inside, with machine gun nests, indicating that the use of the bunkers was not strictly for air-raid protection.
Most probably, they were also used as underground command posts, ammo dumps and accommodation for the garrison.
The inside consists of a main gallery, with various chambers on the sides.
In order to be self-sustained, both have a cement-built water cistern.
Each main gallery is 30-50 meters long, while the entire length (entrance hallways, main gallery, auxiliary spaces, chambers) is 100-150 meters.
Nowadays, almost all external fortifications (pillboxes, etc) have been used as garbage dumping spaces.
However, the two bunkers (being in private properties) remain largely intact in quite good condition.
Credits: The author wishes to thank Mr. Marios Michailos, for his assistance in the photography and in creating the bunker plans.