Relics from the Greek Sacred Band raiding operation, on September 7-8, 1944, Kos island, by Giannis Liontis

WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos © Giannis Liontis, submitted to and used by permission

Few are aware of the Sacred Band, the Greek Elite Special Forces commando raids in the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, in close cooperation with similar units of the Allies.


One such raiding operation, on September 7-8, 1944, at Thymiano on Kefalos, during the Nazi occupation of Kos, was held against German air traffic control facilities consisting of four arrays of electric-powered beacons, a building equipped with electricity generators and the German guard post, enclosed by double barbed wire fences.

The Greek Sacred Band decided to attack and destroy these facilities and neutralise the German garrison, by carrying out a night raid.


A detailed reconnaissance of these facilities was done by the Greek Sacred Band member Diamantis Giannios, who was from Kos island, with the assistance of the local shepherd Pantelis Picos, who gave accurate information on the number and movements of the Germans there.

Mr. Gianis Liontis along with his friend Mr. Antonis Togrou carried out an investigation in the area of the outpost, in July 2016 and November 2019:


“This outpost originally belonged to the Regia Marina, the Italian Navy and after the German invasion in 1943 it was used by the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force.

The four air beacons (one white, three red) were intended to guide the aircraft approaching the airport of Antimachia in Kos island, at night, but also to guide the German pilots flying at night in the Aegean Sea.


The outpost had a strength of 10 people (9 German soldiers, 1 Italian sergeant).

The Greek Sacred Band unit that carried out the raiding operation consisted of 16 men (2 attack groups – 2 support groups with BREN machine guns) led by Lieutenant Andreas Erselman, who started their mission from Deremen, Turkey with British vessels.

Their mission was to neutralise the garrison of the outpost and destroy the facilities and beacons with explosives, as they were an important strategic objective in the area.


The mission was a complete success. 

On the evening of September 7, 1944, the Greeks climbed up to the facilities and after cutting the barbed wire, rushed in throwing grenades and shooting with automatic weapons.

The Germans were taken by surprise.


The Greeks quickly captured the Germans, who were guarding the outpost and the demolitions team began its work.

Before long, large flames and smoke engulfed the enemy installations and blew up the beacons.


The Greeks did not take the captured German soldiers with them. They left them in the area, treating the injured ones, with medical material, which they had brought with them.


During the operation, two German soldiers and the Italian sergeant were killed, with no casualties on the Greek side.

The most important finds are the British .303 spent cartridges that the two support teams probably fired with the BREN machine guns, but also the glass shards from the red beacons.”