By Pierre Kosmidis
Photos © Andreas Galanos, exclusively submitted to www.ww2wrecks.com and used by permission.
The Greek Sacred Squadron was a special operations unit, which was formed in September 1942 in the Middle East, by volunteer officers, who had escaped from Axis occupied Greece. Its aim was to fight the Axis troops and contribute to the liberation of Greece.
Following the defeat of the British in Leros, in 1943, the Allied forces scrapped any of their plans for large-scale operations in the Aegean Sea and opted for commando raids against the Axis garrisons stationed on the Greek islands.
One of their primary targets was the heavily fortified island of Milos, in the Cyclades.
In early October 1944 the Germans hastily retreated from mainland Greece, fearing they would be cut off from the Soviet Army’s rapid advance in the eastern front.
Thus, the island Axis garrisons were left on their own, unable to be evacuated for the remainder of the war, because of the Allied total air and naval superiority in the Aegean Sea.
On October 28, 1944, a highly symbolic date for Greece, as four years earlier, on October 28, 1940, the Italians initiated their failed attack against Greece, which rapidly turned into a fiasco of gigantic proportions for Mussolini’s Army, the British High Command decided that Milos, a strong German bridgehead in the Aegean, had to be liberated.
The Axis garrison of Milos at the time consisted of approximately 650 men.
The Greek Sacred Squadron ordered 177 men to take part in the special operations and landed at Kimolos island, just opposite Milos, on October 25.
The first detachment of the Greek commandos eliminated the German outposts in Pollonia and Voudia in Milos, just across from Kimolos. Then, the detachment moved further inland, repelled a German counter attack and advanced, creating a bridgehead. The same afternoon, the main body of the Greek Sacred Squadron also landed in Milos.
The next day, another German outpost was destroyed at the sulphur mines, but the heavily fortified position in Trahilas, which controlled the approaches to the center of the island and Adamas bay, included 155mm naval guns, trenches, machine gun emplacements and anti-personnel mines, proved to be a major obstacle for the raiding forces.
Either the cancellation of the operation or the reinforcement of the detachment with Infantry and Artillery forces was necessary. This was followed by the landing of 200 British marines on the southern side of the island and an attack by the Greek Commandos on November 2nd, which failed.
After an on-the-spot review of the situation by the Commander of the Greek Sacred Squadron Christodoulos Tsigantes and the British officers, it was established that the German defense position could not be broken and the operation was stopped.
On the night of November 4th the Greek Sacred Squadron withdrew from Milos, leaving a detachment of 82 men in Kimolos to carry out raiding operations against the garrison of Milos.
However, despite its failure, the operation against Milos caused -according to Allied reports- approximately a 100 German casualties, the destruction or damage of military facilities and equipment, with only an injured Greek commando confirmed on the Greek side.
The Greek Sacred Squadron detachment continued its harassing operations against the German garrison of Milos and on May 8, 1945 at 3 p.m., the surrender of the Germans was officially accepted.
522 German and 20 Italian soldiers surrendered unconditionally, ending the harsh German occupation of the island of Milos, after 4 years.
Mr. Andreas Galanos visited the 155mm gun battery position of Trahilas in September 2022, which stands to this day and shared with www.ww2wrecks.com the photo documentation of what remains there.