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

Greece
 
Examples of the Greek/USOG Missions Behind the Lines

Group 5 Operation and Personnel
August 27, 1944

One of the many operations by Group 5 is described in this report from the National Archives. It was recorded by their commanding officer, Second Lieutenant Lon Peyton.

Lt. Peyton assumed command of Group 5 when First Lieutenant George Papazoglou injured his back during a July 17, 1944 reconnaissance. The officers and men of Group 5 who participated in this mission are listed.


Group 5

We camped in a hollow near a stream about an hour from Phanas and rested for a couple of days. We were still browned off about two train ambushes which failed to come off. We had previously been told of a mine the Germans were operating and decided this would be a good time to hit as long as we were still in the area. This mine was located at (50-90) Ghevghelli map, and is surrounded by hills, some heavily wooded and some bare. Barbed wire entanglements and tri-wire minefields encircled the entire area. A large dam stored the water used to operate the turbines, which were enclosed in large concrete structures.

The plan was to divide the mine area into two sections. The Antartes were to assault and take one section, and the OGs the other. We were to blow the dam, the power plants, and mine shafts.

I left on a recon of the mine with three RSR (British) officers and left my group under Sergeant Paidas with instructions to meet me at 2330 hours that night, and I would take them into position; we would lie down and get some sleep and forget the damn thing until time to attack. The men were very tired and after getting into position, they all lay down and slept.

At the first crack of dawn, the men were aroused and got ready for the attack. The attack began at 0545, and all hell broke loose. We caught the bastards with their pants down and really gave them hell for awhile. Following the plan, I took 8 men with me (1 bazooka, Browning automatic rifle (BAR), 2 M1 rifles, and two Thomson machine guns (TG)) to assault the mine (our half). The rest of the OGs were covering us.

We went down a ravine and kept undercover as well as we could until we came to the mine proper. I placed the bazooka and, with one shot (Corporal Minogianis and Corporal Gianotis) took out a machine gun (MG) nest that was in our way. As soon as MG was finished, we dashed forward to that point. We had to go through a minefield, and it was a little touchy at times due to the fact that you didn't know if you had seen all the wires or not.

Prior to our assault, my BAR team (and it's the best), consisting of Corporal Lygizos and Corporal Photis, took out another MG nest, and that left only two more to go. We could see the Hun running around and realized they were quite frightened and, of course, that gave us the chance we wanted. We hit them hard and fast, and they didn't stand a chance.

We knocked off 75 and captured 28 Hun who decided they would rather surrender than die. It was a little rough for awhile, but once again the good Lord was with us and watched over us. We assaulted the buildings, and the two remaining MG emplacements with TGs and grenades, and in a few minutes we had things going our way.

We decided, upon completion of our mission, to help the Antartes take their half of the mine. The situation was such, however, that after three attempts to link up with them, we decided to withdraw.

The prisoners were herded in front of us, and we left the mine. As soon as we got to our original position, the prisoners were turned over to the Antartes. I was told by the Antarte chief that it was impossible for them to fulfill their mission, and there was nothing to do on the other side of the mine.

As soon as we had taken our half of the mine, demolitions were laid for the destruction of the dam and powerhouses. This was accomplished and, as a parting gesture, we blew two mine shafts.

Once again, the Antartes killed themselves by going through the minefield like a herd of sheep. Instead of following us, they took a shortcut and got themselves killed and wounded.

The number of Huns wounded was unknown as they were scattered over a huge area. The killed counted to 75, the prisoners 28. Our casualties, none.

The RSR Vickers and mortar sections on the west side of the mine used the 2nd section of the OGs and supported the Antartes who were supposed to make an attack. They failed in their mission.

The RSR sustained only one casualty. The Antartes I'm not sure, I think it was 12.

The operation was very successful inasmuch as we put the mine out of commission for several months.

The strength of the garrison was over 300 Germans and Italians. If our force had been larger, we could have made a better showing.

Submitted by 2nd Lt. Lon Peyton

[Officers and Men in this Mission]
[Skip the list of personnel]
  • Lieutenant George Papazoglo
  • Technical Sergeant Walter Gates
  • Staff Sergeant Bichekas
  • Staff Sergeant Lyle Schneeberger
  • Corporal Harry Ameredes
  • Corporal Tasos Gianotis
  • Corporal Angelo Lygizos
  • Corporal Gust Mukanos
  • Corporal Peter Photis
  • Corporal Alexander Psomas
  • Corporal Gus Vellios
  • Corporal Paul Zarras
  • Lieutenant Lon Payton
  • Technical Sergeant Paidas
  • Staff Sergeant Loudermilk
  • Staff Sergeant James Thomas
  • Corporal Anargyros Antonopoulos
  • Corporal Mihail Kondos
  • Corporal John Minogiannis
  • Corporal James Papavassiliou
  • Corporal Spiro Psarakis
  • Corporal Peter Stamates
  • Corporal Constantine Zahariades

Note

  • U.S. National Archives, Greek U.S. Operational Groups, Operations in Greece 1944, p. 151 (report filed at OSS Headquarters, 24 December 1944), reported by commanding officer, 2nd Lt. Lon Peyton.


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