June 18 Group under Lt. John Giannaris entered Greece on west coast east of Paios Island and in the next two weeks, till July 1, traveled over mountains to its base at Papas, 30 miles NW of Lamia
July 22-26. Lt. Giannaris with 7 OGs and 9 Greek guerrillas (Andartes) moved 40 miles to forward assembly area in the mountains N of Stirfaca. Target was a RR crossing heavily guarded by a pill box and a German garrison. The demolitions team moved in and the first train was derailed. The Germans responded with heavy fire as the party retreated without opening fire. Return to base past German patrols was successfully accomplished.
July 31. Party of 13 OGs and 8 guerrillas left Pappas heading SE, crossed Lamia valley east of Ipati.
1 Aug. Party continued to Salonica-Athens RR line. In darkness locomotive of supply train was hit by 5 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition and fire of all weapons was placed on the train for 7 minutes, killing all personnel on train and burning cars loaded with supplies. Party withdrew under fire from nearby pillbox and was pursued by patrols but returned to base safely.
7 Aug. German drive into heights NW of Lamia held by guerrilla bands was stopped by harassing attacks of OGs, British RSR and Andartes.
12 Aug. Lt. Giannaris and party moved S along the heights, descended E, placed mines in the road beyond one emplacement, and withdrew to the heights. In darkness the front vehicle of a passing convoy was demolished and the area was lit up and strafed. Andarte artillery fire from the mountain top destroyed more trucks and caused more casualties.
Aug. 13-17. Another German advance, preceded by artillery fire which caused some Andarte casualties, was met was met with Andarte artillery fire which produced many German casualties and sestroyed many Gewrman trucks. German drive was discontinued.
In areas overrun by Germans towns were left in ruins and there was much loss of life.
Aug. 20/21. OG with Col. West and Capt. Blanas
moved from Papas base to Salonica-Athens RR 2 miles N of Kaitna station
where the area was heavily guarded. Party took position 15 yards from
track and demolition crew placed the charges. In minutes a train approached
from S loaded with soldiers protecting the train and supplies. When
the engine detonated the charges, bazooka rockets burst the boiler and
the entire party poured fire into the cars. Exchange of fire lasted
15 minutes and enemy fire was silenced.
Aug. 27/28. Party of 6 OGs and RSR mortar crew left Papas for German garrisoned strong point in heavily patrolled area 18 miles distant on Salonica-Athens RR, and took positions 600 to 800 yards from target. At a troop train came into view and when it was in range party opened fire. Over 150 rounds of 75 mm. Mortar shells were distributed over the train. After several minutes Germans returned fire with heavy machine guns, mortars and a 105 mm. Howitzer. A large patrol headed up, forcing the attacking party from their positions. They returned to base by 0700. Enemy suffered over 85 casualties.
Aug. 30/31. Force of OGs and RSR mortar crew moved 12 miles from Papas to a spot 2 miles north of the Kailsa station on the Salonica-Athens RR on which Germans were retreating N. In darkness demolition crew laid charges, detonated them and withdrew to the heights. Party waited for the repair crew which didn't arrive till )900. When they started work 25 mortar shells were fired, killing several and sending the rest to cover. 40 mortar shells were fired at a nearby pillbox and station. A Panzer-Zook (RR armored car) from Kailsa station opened mortar and machine gun fire and patrols were dispatched to clear the heights. Party arrived at base at 1800 hours.
Sept. 2. OG and 12 RSR men and officers moved 5 miles E of base to the RR tracks at Kaitsa Kalivas station. With flanks secured the demolition party laid over 400 pounds of demolition charges along 2K of track. When set off the track was completely destroyed along with several telegraph communication poles. Evacuation of German troops and equipment was delayed and repair work brought workmen, rails and protecting troops from other areas. Party withdrew under heavy fire and returned to base by 1000 hours.
Sept. 6/7. At 1300 a 5-man section of OGs made a 6-hour march from Papas to the Salonika-Athens RR and in the night time attempt to place demolitions on the tracks were discovered by patrols. This drew mortar and machine gun fire which continued throught the night, drawing attention from other sabotage operations. Party retirned to base by 0700.
Sept. 8/9. At 1100 hours entire OG with Andartes
left Papas for Salonica-Athens RR N of Lamia, 2 miles S of Develi, where,
in a heavily guarded and patrolled area were a pillbox and German barracks.
Sept. 10. At 1300 hours entire OG left Papas, went 8 miles N to Dranista where they were joined by British RDR unit, continued to the "5-mile area" 2 miles N of the Kaitsa station and occupied a rear area overlooking the Athens-Salonica RR line.
Sept. 11. At 0400 party moved to forward positions
near the station protected by barracked soldiers and a fully equipped
pillbox. At 1800 a long troop and supply train arrived and heavy fire
was initiated by the OGs and RSR men. Cars were constructed with wood
and entire train was set on fire. When all the mortar shells, over 100,
were fired and as returning enemy fire grew heavy the party retreated
to the rear, reaching the next hill as the area was overrun by hundreds
of Germans. Enemy flares and fire continued all night.
Sept. 12. At 0900 party left for Papas. From that night on until the Germans evacuated the area these heights were fired on before any train passed the area.
Sept. 18. At 1200 entire OG, RSR men and Andartes moved to Salonica-Athens RR line on which traffic was increasing. At 1600, in broad daylight, with flank security in position, demolition team placed over 400 pounds of charges. Demolition crew moved out when charges started detonating and security withdrew when machine gun and mortar fire started. Destroyed were 1.5 K of track and a large culvert.
Sept. 19. Party was back at base by 1000.
Oct. 6. OGs under Lt. Pappas, with Col. West as observer, and Guerrilla demolition men set out at 1300 with 4 carts disguised as farmers carts drawn by oxen moved to Salonica-Athens RR at a point 1000 yards NE of Neo Monasterion. Approach to the target was through the Thessaly Plains, flat and without concealment. Close to the RR station were pill boxes, mortars and machine guns. As the demolition party reached the track an enemy patrol opened fire, pinning them down. Cpl. Skiriotis crawled to within 10 yards of the parrol, emptied his tommy gun magazine which silenced most of the automatic weapons and allowed the patrol to withdraw. Under 30 minutes of heavy fire from the pill boxes the entire party withdrew safely. By diverting the enemy two other parties succeeded in blowing the rails.
Oct. 7. Walking all night, party reached rear assembly area at 0500.
Oct. 10. Entire OG and Andartes were summoned
to an area where the Germans were in the last stages of evacuation from
Athens, going N, to prevent German rear guards from destructive action.
Travel took them close to German defence positions. Iposti had been
shelled and Germans had blown the RR line and bridges between Athens
and Lamia, preventing plans to be put into effect. OG returned to Paviliani
and thence to base.
This summary of the Balkan Operational Groups was extracted from records of the National Archives provided through the courtesy of Lt. Col. Ian D. W. Sutherland. Attorney Sutherland is the compiler of the encyclopedic "Special Forces of the United States Army, 1952-1982"