The first reviews of the book in greek press

Two of the most popular magazines of the greek military and historical press were the first to host reviews of the book about Molaoi airfield. The first review appeared in the issue of October 2012 of Ptisi & Diastima (Flight & Space), and the second one in the issue of January 2013 of Stratiotiki Istoria (Military History). The reviews appear below.

Image

Review in Ptisi & Diastima

Image

Review in Stratiotiki Istoria

 

Advertisements

Dickfeld’s story – a case study

At  page 103 of the book someone could read ‘’… on 29th May 1941 … Another one  Me-109 fighter  belonging   to  III./JG 52  was totally destroyed after crash-landing  near  Molaoi due to lack of  fuel. The pilot was unhurt….’’

That  was  all I knew  before  I found  the memoirs  of  a german pilot. That was  the first  , crucial  finding  which  transformed  the  short  sentence above  to a whole story. Below  I share with  you  the  information  I found , in chronological order , along with the course of my thoughts. Any additional  help is welcome.

1)    Adolf  Dickfeld’s  memoirs (‘’Footsteps of the hunter’’). He  was then serving as pilot of  III./JG 52  which  was  stationed at Molaoi during  the  late  stages  of  Battle  of  Crete. That is the story with his own words:’’…It was just five o’clock on my alarm clock when the tent flap was opened from the outside.The “old man” peered inside and said, “glad to see you’re awake, you’re to fly the early patrol with Rickmer. Take Zobel’s machine. Take off at 0530.” Even before I could jump to my feet and adopt the mandatory stance he had disappeared again. …We lifted off in a tremendous cloud of dust and were soon over the Mediterranean….. In less than ten minutes we were over Malemes, that fateful airfield on the northwest corner of the island. Visibility was unrestricted, I guessed more than 50 kilometres. …the first black flak bursts began flaming up in front of us. They were far to the right, so there was no danger at first. I sideslipped quickly, with Rickmer behind me, lost several hundred metres of altitude and then continued south over the snow-covered flank of the 2,450-metre-high Idhi Oros….The flak had ceased firing, apparently the Tommies’ expectations of success hadn’t been high. After a left turn we flew east along the coast. … There were a good dozen fishing boats and in their midst several English motor torpedo boats, all loaded with soldiers, munitions, and equipment.

“Low-level attack!” I called over to Rickmer. I flipped up the safety catch and opened fire. … One of the torpedo boats began to glow bright red like a street light and seconds later blew apart. It was time to get away, fuel was running low, we had to get home and lick our wounds. I climbed toward the mountains. ….Then, suddenly, tracer flashed past my cockpit and at the same time Rickmer screamed: “Hurricanes, four of them behind you!”… Rickmer had dived away. Below us was Antikythera, in front of me the Tommies. They turned toward me. … A press on the triggers and tracer poured into the Hurricane. It began to smoke and peeled away. I was still at 1,000 metres. Suddenly bullets struck my cockpit. The instrument panel caught the full force of the burst and was riddled like swiss cheese. What was worse, glycol vapour was streaming into my face, that meant that the radiators had been hit. I dove away steeply. The other Hurricanes had disappeared, thank God! I searched for a place to land. At 300 metres I spotted a machine lying on its belly on the beach, its British roundels stood out clearly. I lowered the flaps, left the landing gear up, and set my machine

down on the sand next to the Tommy. The underwing radiators were ripped off, the ailerons flew away. I opened the canopy, jumped out, and ran away from my smoking Messerschmitt. Taking cover behind a large rock I waited for the aircraft to explode. But nothing happened and the smoke slowly died out. I left cover and began thinking about the Tommy I had brought down, who must be hiding in the botany somewhere nearby. As a precaution I pulled my 7.65mm pistol from my fur-lined boot and looked all around me. But there was no sign of life, no one for me to take prisoner. Where could the fellow be hiding? Not ten minutes had passed since his forced landing. I looked inside his machine; the parachute was still in the cockpit. His instrument panel had been shot up just like mine, and there were several holes in the fuselage as well. But there was no sign of blood. It appeared that he had escaped unhurt, I didn’t grudge him that.

Map of the territory

In view of the difficult terrain there didn’t seem to be much sense in searching further. So I took my parachute out of my Messerschmitt, which was riddled with bullet holes, threw it over my shoulder and began walking in the direction of the interior. After several hours of walking I came to a small fishing village, whose name I have forgotten. In an instant I was surrounded. They all spoke to me but my schoolboy Greek seemed not to be understood there. Then, finally, an old man came up to me and spoke to me in English. I explained that I needed a car to get back to my airfield, which lay not ten kilometres from there, and soon a donkey-drawn cart appeared. The old man drove me through the area at a leisurely pace and we began to talk. He told me quite openly that we Germans weren’t welcome there, after all we had invaded his country. …

Finally, late in the afternoon, I arrived back at my airfield, dirty and disappointed, but otherwise none the worse for wear. I reported my return to the “old man.” “My dear fellow,” he began, “where did you come from, we gave you up for lost a long time ago. Rickmer has been back for some time. He got away with a few bullet holes. Make your report after you’ve eaten.” I was unable to have my kill confirmed. No witness, no confirmation, that was it! That’s how it was in that part of the world.’’

2)    On location :

Charachias beach

The whole incident got clearer when I went  at Demonia village , about 20 km southeast of  Molaoi. Me , my friend Kostas and about 12 elderly locals  sat around a table at the café of the village. Soon , after a flood  of  memoires  and  scattered information ,  I realised that among  them  there was an eye-witness of Me-109’s crash-landing. According to him , the german aircraft  was one-seated and it was crash-landed near the beach  Charachias during the Battle of Crete. He told me that the german pilot survived and later he was transferred to the airfield on a donkey belonging to the local rural guard named Nikolaos  Misthos. The  small fishing village mentioned  by  Adolf  Dickfeld is probably Plytra , lying  about  5 km northwest of  Charachias.The locals also mentioned that the same period (in the summer of 1941) another aircraft , probably two-seated , crash-landed in the greater area. The place is called Korogonas and it is a slope near Charachias beach (see the map). One of the pilots used his parachute. Later on the aircraft was destroyed by the Germans. No records for any destroyed Hurricane at the same beach.                                                                                                                                         3) Loss records

The ”white 12” at Molaoi airfield

In the loss records of the III./JG 52 I found the loss of a Me-109 , (“white 12”) on 29/5/1941 due to lack of fuel. The aircraft of the 7th Staffel (7./JG 52) reported  crash-landed near Molaoi  airfield. Total loss of the aircraft , pilot unknown. (B.Barbas : Die Geschichte der  III. Gruppe des JG 52 , p.298). In  that  period Dickfeld’s  Me-109  was  the  “black 1’’  so  can one assume  that the lost ‘’white 12’’  was  Zobel’s  plane.After  bringing  all the  information  together the  mystery  seems  to be solved.The  Me-109  which was crash-landed at the  29th May 1941 near  Molaoi airfield was  the badly-damaged ‘’white 12”  of the 7./JG 52  with  Adolf  Dickfeld in  the cockpit. I almost imagine it crash-landing in a cloud of dust and sand at the beautiful beach of Charachias…

Aerial photo of the Molaoi airfield

1945 - Aerial photo

1945- Aerial photo of  Molaoi area

In my very first post I wrote that  historical research is a team work. So, from this post I begin sharing with you information I have gathered all these years in order to make this work more complete.The aerial photo on the left shows the greater area of Molaoi as it was shortly after the end of the war. This photo was taken in 1945 and was used from the Geographical Service of the Greek Army for the first post-war map of the area. Although the photo was taken from a high altitude (possibly by a recce-Spitfire) it is scanned in high resolution so someone could make out certain details. The area which was occupied by the Luftwaffe for the construction of the airfield is marked only approximately because there were no permanent installations , except for one small building. This photo is not included in the book because it has only some meaning in larger size. I have tried to find a wartime aerial photo of the airfield of Molaoi but I haven’t found anything yet. I will be grateful if someone could help me in that difficult task.

More about the book

The poster of the book

There has been almost a week from the anouncement of the publication of the book and I must admit that your interest is quite strong. Reasonably , the content and the structure of the book is not clear to the majority of the readers , so I thought it was necessary to present the table of contents. For more clarifications , observations or orders , please contact me through my e-mail : tanastasak@gmail.com.

Table of contents (greek)

The  Table of Contents in english :

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • I. THE RETREAT
  • The fate of a General
  • Greek  ships  at Monemvasia
  • Greek  seaplanes at Palaia Monemvasia
  • The  flight of Greek  cadet officers
  •  The withdrawal of the New Zealanders  from Monemvasia
  • II. THE AIRFIELD OF MOLAOI
  • The  operation “Hermes”
  • The construction of Molaoi airfield
  • Arrival  of  the german units at the airfield
  • The beginning of the operations against Crete
  • The first german reprisals
  • Hans-Ulrich Rudel at the airfield of Molaoi
  • RAF attacks against the airfield of Molaoi
  • Beginning  of the operation “Hermes”
  • Luftwaffe vs. Royal Navy
  • Crash-landing of a german airplane near Elia
  • Crash-landing of a german airplane near Monemvasia
  • A  funeral  at the airfield of Molaoi
  • Account  of  the Battle of Crete
  • The withdrawal of the german air units  from Molaoi
  • III. THE PRESENCE OF THE GERMANS AFTER THE BATTLE OF CRETE (1941-1944)

1941-1942

  • The  Peloponnesus  under  Italian occupation
  • The sabotage of Elia
  • The action of Luftwaffe during the period 1941-1942
  • The transport of the 22th Infantry Division
  • The relations between the Greeks and the Germans of the airfield

1943

  • The action of the Luftwaffe during 1943
  • The 1st Panzer Division at Molaoi
  • The Italian capitulation and its consequences
  • Recommendation of removal of  the airfield of Molaoi
  • The ELAS at the South Laconia
  • The “Volunteer Anticommunist Group” of Molaoi
  • The attack at the german outpost at the bridge of Apidea
  • The  withdrawal of the Germans from the airfield of Molaoi
  • The facts at Molaoi

1944

  • The operation ‘Amsel’
  • The operation ‘Condor’
  • The ambush at Gagania
  • The war at  sea
  • The air raids
  • The facts up to the final withdrawal of the Germans
  • IV. ANNEX : The action of SOE agent Charalampos Koutsogiannopoulos
  • Bibliography
  • Colour  Section : Then and Now

RELEASED !!!

The front cover of the book

TASOS S. ANASTASAKIS : ” THE AIRFIELD OF MOLAOI. CHRONICLE OF THE ACTION OF GERMANS IN THE SOUTH-EAST LACONIA 1941-1944” 

This book is an original essay on a topic almost unknown to greek bibliography. Its content goes over the narrow borders of local history and therefore , apart the residents of this region , the book is addressed to everyone who is interested in aviation history as well to those who have a special interest in the Battle of Crete.

208 glossy pages , more than 100 photographs of that period as well as 16-page coloured annex form the book. It costs 16 euros , it can be shipped world-wide , and you can purchase it either from :

  • ”IDIOMORFI”  Publications ,  7 Oresti Str., Sparta , Greece , tel. +30 2731082203 , e-mail: idiomorf@otenet.gr  ,
  • or directly from the author Tasos Anastasakis , e-mail: tanastasak@gmail.com,  tel. +30 6979004004

Good luck !!!

Αεροδρόμιο Μολάων , Μάϊος 1941

General view of the airfield of Molaoi , Greece during May 1941

The idea for this blog came out of a strong personal interest for the history of the german airfield of Molaoi , Greece. Not to mention the incidents that occured in the extended area during the period of german occupation. This interest was progressively translated into a research that reached a depth , starting from the quest of information in the internet and reaching the study of unpublished archives from abroad as well as personal witnesses. The result of this seven-year research is the book soon to be published by ‘Idiomorfi’ Publications under the title ‘The airfield of Molaoi. Chronicle of the action of  Germans in the South-eastern Laconia 1941-1944’.

So reasonably someone asks ‘What’s the reason creating this specific blog when there is also a book been published? ‘. My conviction is that even though the book contains a lot of information , nevertheless there is a lot to be added , many untold personal stories , many incidents that are not known. My ambition is that this research becomes an endless feedback , a procedure that guides through the exchange and co-matching of information closer to the historical truth.

So this blog is an open invitation for co-research  in historical terms , with geographical context the region of south-eastern Laconia , and historical context the period of german occupation (1941-1944) , emphasizing to aviation history.

Good luck!!