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

Greece
 
Summary of Greek Operations

National Archives Documents
 
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The following quotations from the National Archives provide a summary of the Greek United States Operational Groups (Greek/USOG) missions and their results in Greece.

The Greek United States Operational Groups (Greek/USOG) operated with the EAM/ELAS Antartes in Greece, with the exception of Group 1 who was with Zervas' Antartes.


General Report about Greek Operations

1. General

During a period of 219 days from 23 April until 20 November 1944, troops of Co. C., 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion were continuously in occupied Greece. The type of warfare they engaged in was unique in the history of the American Army. The record they made is of some interest and bears close examination.

The table of statistics [...] shows a large toll taken in enemy personnel, communication, and material. It is appropriate at this point to make it clear that much of this destruction was accomplished in conjunction with British Raider Support Regiment detachments and Greek Antartes working in concert. To say that the Operational Groups alone are responsible for all the results shown would not be fair; on the other hand, the Groups were the close assault troops in nearly all of these actions. The Antartes, lacking in any real military training, were usually a doubtful quantity, and it can be stated without fear of contradiction that the Americans were an inspiration to them to carry out assaults they would not otherwise complete. The British RSR detachments, with their mortars and machine guns, were highly skilled and tremendously effective in the support of the Operational Groups and Antartes. And were likewise a fine example of aggressive and competent soldiering.

2. Results of Operations

Enemy Casualties. The number of the enemy killed and wounded has been estimated at 2,000. This appears to be a great number of casualties to be inflicted by such small a number of men, especially when it is considered that American casualties were extremely light by comparison. The explanation for this is that in nearly all of the operations, complete surprise was achieved, and the enemy was struck while unprepared. In cases where crowded trains or trucks were targeted, it can readily be seen that pouring bullets and Bazooka shells into vehicles or cars would result in carnage. The real problem was getting into position to strike the train or convoy. If successful in this, the officers skillfully placed their weapons to do the most damage. For instance, usually Bazookas were so placed that when a train was halted by electrically blowing a rail, a Bazooka was opposite both the front and rear locomotives, which were also the armored cars. In many cases, Bazooka and automatic weapons were spaced along a road at the same interval as trucks en route were spaced. This information was known to the troops from a captured German order prescribing distance by day, by night, by moonlight, and so on. Thus, by careful planning and placing of weapons, surprise was achieved and tremendous fire brought to bear on the enemy. The result was utter confusion on his part, which explains the few American casualties.


National archives
SECRET

Vital Statistics

Group VII (Unit A) participated in several convoy ambush operations with Group I, and there is an indefinite amount of destruction of life and property, which should be credited to this group in addition to that which this report shows.

Troops in Greece 219 days continuously from 23 April to November, 1944.

Officers, 15
Enlisted Men, 159
[note 3]

Areas of Operations Group 1. Epirus, 2. Roumeli, 3. Thessaly, 4. Macedonia, 5. Paikov, 6. Pierias, 7.  Macedonia, 8. Vermion, Pelope. End of summary of Greek/USOG operations in Greece.


Notes

  1. National Archives, Greek U.S. Operational Groups, Operations in Greece 1944, pp. 11-12 (report filed at OSS Headquarters, 24 December 1944). The Greek/USOG operations, raids, and reconnaissance missions in Yugoslavia are summarized in other documents in the National Archives.
    [Return to the text, note 1]
  2. Ibid., p. 1.
    [Return to the text, note 2]
  3. This document says 174 (fifteen officers and 159 enlisted men). There is a discrepancy between the tally in this document (quoted and cited here above) on one hand and a tally in the National Archives, ibid., pp. 188-192 (quoted and cited earlier in these memoirs) on the other hand. The other document shows the names of 142 (twelve officers and 130 enlisted men) who entered Greece in 1944.

    The tallies in both of these documents include members of the Yugoslavian/USOG. They are referred to as Group 7 in the document quoted here just above. Similarly, members of the Yugoslavian/USOG, referred to as Group 7, are counted into a list in a web-site about the OSS at www.ossog.org/balkans/greek_07.html (retrieved on-line February 14, 2004).

    Among the total number of 174 in the document quoted here just above, there were 145 Greek/USOG members and 29 Yugoslavian/USOG members as I discovered by checking and comparing the data. The majority of these men in the Yugoslavian/USOG were Greek-Americans. Likewise, the majority of the men in the Greek/USOG were Greek-Americans.

    We can be certain enough about the number of the Greek/USOG volunteers into the OSS who landed in Egypt, January 23, 1944:

    • Sixteen officers and 169 enlisted men of the Greek/USOG volunteers into the OSS landed in Egypt, January 23, 1944, according to the report titled Headquarters, Third Contingent, Unit B, Operational Group, filed in the National Archives.

      At the time of our arrival in Egypt, our unit was known as Third Contingent, Unit B. The official name, Company C 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion, was established later, in August 1944.

    • All of these men had volunteered for hazardous duty behind the lines in Greece, although some were unable to fulfill their intent because of subsequent factors beyond their control, such as casualities or reassignments before deployment into Greece.
    • This total number 185 from the roster at arrival in Egypt will be inscribed in a monument that is being erected in Athens to honor our unit: the total number because all the men were volunteers for hazardous duty to liberate Greece; each and every one intended to serve in Greece.


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