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

Interviews, WW2, WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos submitted by Tony Rogers

Following the book “Swastika Over the Aegean”, acclaimed author and researcher Tony Rogers worked on the new edition of “Churchill’s Folly”.

With updated information, details that only recently came to light and lots of other important elements, Tony Rogers’ revised edition “Churchill’s folly” is a “must have” for anyone interested in the Battle of Leros, a demonstration of German military prowess and a strategic disaster for Winston Churchill.

Today many of the Greek islands of the Dodecanese are popular tourist resorts.

However in 1943 they were the scene of the last successful German invasion of the Second World War.

Tony Rogers has drawn on British, German and Italian sources and uses graphic eyewitness accounts to provide a detailed retelling of the struggle for possession of the Dodecanese.

The new edition of Churchill’s Folly is available from February 2017.

The new edition may be purchased at bookshops and via 

What’s new in the revised edition?

Tony Rogers explains:

“Chapter 5 has been revised and expanded and focuses more on the battle of Levitha between the Long Range Desert Group and resident German forces. To this end I was aided by additional German after-action reports.

Another unexpected find was the War Diary of 1 King’s Own, which enabled me to expand on the  battalion’s involvement during the battle of Leros.

There are more first-hand accounts. I have added wartime maps to supplement the original maps. There are ‘new’ photos.”


(click the links below):

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

Leros: Operation ‘Taifun’

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


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


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


WW2 German Stuka Ju87 aircraft shot down in 1943 recovered in Leros


Pilots of the… Abyss: The aircraft salvagers of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF)


Hellenic Air Force Museum – The wings of history


churchill's folly

In autumn 1943 the Italian-held Dodecanese became the setting for the last decisive German invasion of the Second World War – and the last irredeemable British defeat.

On 3 October 1943, German forces landed at Kos. Three companies of II./Gren.Rgt.16 were delayed by stiff resistance at an ‘ammunition dump’, actually a logistics camp: Caserna Germè-Esculapio.

After the Italian armistice following the downfall of Il Duce Benito Mussolini, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill seized the opportunity to open a new front in the eastern Mediterranean, thereby adding to the pressure being applied against Germany and at the same time hoping to provide an incentive for Turkey to join the Allies.

Fallschirmjäger exit over central Leros.

Rejected by the Americans, it was a strategy fraught with difficulties and, ultimately, one doomed to failure. Spearheaded by the Long Range Desert Group and Special Boat Squadron, British garrison troops were dispatched to the Aegean with the assistance of naval forces, but with little or no air cover.

16 November 1943. Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller (left) with the surrendered Fortress commander Brigadier Robert Tilney (right).

They were opposed by some of Germany’s finest, including units of the Division Brandenburg, with ample air and sea support. Men and material were sacrificed in nearly three months of operations that ended in disaster for the British and with much of the Aegean under German occupation until the end of the war.