Synopsis of Chapter Seventeen ~ Salonika
1st October 1944 to 21st October 1944


After a week in Athens it became clear that the Luftwaffe had pulled out of Greece and the remainder were withdrawing, rather than counterattacking. To clear them out of Greece completely it was decided to hurry their departure by another landing at Salonika, a few hundred miles north, so in another week we were to set off. Again the port at Salonika was heavily mined and the convoy delayed. Again our 2 Dakotas and 2 jeeps landed safely at Sedes airfield a couple of days ahead of the convoy, but with no accompanying Fighter Squadron. Lonely - but a short recce seemed to indicate that the Germans had pulled out the day before. Accommodation at airfield impractical for northern Greek winter so switched to nearby Agricultural College site.

Quickly the ELAS/Partisan/Communists took civil control of the city, going around armed. Country areas mainly Royalists who had been outmanoeuvred. Acquired a necessary interpreter the better to understand ELAS coolness towards our Forces. Delicate situation at Sedes. Southern Greece seemed to be Royalist, until an ELAS unit made an unexpected attack on our HQ there at Tatoi, and marched all 220 of them into captivity. We lost communication with them and felt isolated apart from our Radio links with main HQ in Bari, Italy. Winston Churchill in London called for Greek unity and co-operation, threatening use of force unless ELAS complied. They didn't, and fighting ensued in the South, fragile stand-off with ELAS in the North, though regular threats against us, to show solidarity with ELAS in the South.

In the meantime I'd flown back to Athens and brought the rest of my unit and it's transport by sea to join us at Sedes , where our chief task was controlling aircraft movements and maintaining radio contact with Bari HQ. Foul weather dampened ELAS activities. We gave sanctuary to a wing Commander on his way to Tatoi. Our wireless picked up a message on 10th December from Bari that the Wing commander was to take charge of 5FFCU and I was to make my way to Naples by 30th December to be repatriated to the UK, as my 4 years overseas tour was complete. Unexpected, overjoyed and acknowledged message. Two days later hitchhiked a plane to Bari as a start.

F/Lt Pop Rolfe
F/Lt Ryder
F/Lt Dodd
Sedes airfield
Self, Ryder and Greek interpreter, Salonika Nov.1944



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