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Greek / American Operational Group Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Memoirs of World War 2

Yugoslavia

Addendum: about the Battle of Brac


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We supported the British artillery for four days. The German shelling was severe, firing back and forth with the Germans, and moving from position to position to avert the German artillery, we were fortunate we had only one casualty. One evening Pete Lewis and Byron Economou decided to roam the area; they returned with a couple of bottles of wine. They had met up with a Yugoslavian woman who offered them her wine.

When our mission was completed we returned to where we landed. We had hiked up on the mountain trails, but we returned on a beautiful road that serpentines through the mountains of Brac. Although the hike was very long, the view overlooking the Adriatic Sea was very beautiful. We also noticed homes that had been ravaged by the Germans who had accused the civilians of being Partisan collaborators. Partisans and Serb Royalists were very loyal to the Allies.

American bombers returning from bombing sorties sometimes had extra bombs that they had not dropped on their target. They would often drop their remaining bombs on German garrisons or installations on their way home. While waiting on the beach for the LCIs to take us back to Vis, we experienced friendly fire. When the American B 24s flew over Brac we started to wave at them, but lo and behold, bombs began to fall. We immediately took cover. Evidently the Air Corp had not been advised of the Brac raid. It was weird to be fired on by American airmen and needless to say we were pissed off.

When we returned to Vis we heard the news of the Normandy landings. We were not only happy that the 2nd front started, but we were even happier that we would not lead the invasion into the underbelly of Europe.

Finally, Back to Bari

Disappointed that we had not initially joined the other three groups in Greece, and with the war in southern Europe winding down, we were concerned hostilities would end in Greece before we could join the Antartes. [note] In June 1944, we received our orders to leave Vis and were told that we were headed for Greece. It was a toss-up whether we were happier because we were leaving Vis or because we were going to Greece. We were physically and mentally exhausted from the many raids and reconnaissance missions; the Stuka bombings; sleeping on the ground in trenches; not to mention the diet of pancakes and C and K rations. Many of us had been on the island since February. A few men had been sent to Italy to recuperate from wounds, illness, or battle fatigue. Other fortunate ones had won the lottery for parachute training and a little R & R. Tom and I had never left the island.

We returned to Bari, Italy, and the OSS camp in Torre Mare, now designated as Camp Kallistos, where we were informed Groups 3 and 6 were to land in Greece by LCI while Group 4 would go to a British parachute training school in southern Italy. We were thrilled that Group 4 was chosen for jump training. They gave us one week of R & R before starting.


Note

  • Antartes is a general term for the Greek guerrilla fighters. There were two main groups of resistance fighters who actively resisted the Axis occupation, which will be mentioned in Part 6.


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