A brief History
Colour side views of the aircraft used
by the 13th Hellenic Sq.
13th Hellenic Sq. Bristol Blenheim serial Nos
13th Hellenic Sq. Martin Baltimore serial Nos
13th Hellenic Sq.
Vickers Wellington serial Nos
the historic units of the Hellenic Air Force was the "13th
Light Bombing Squadron" as it was
named on its establishment in Dekheila,
This was the first Squadron of the Royal Hellenic Air Force to be
invasion and the occupation of the
The Squadron came under British command, as did the
two other R.H.A.F squadrons (the 335th and the 336th
Fighter sqns) that were established later.
Initially it was incorporated in 201 Group, R.A.F.
First equipment of the Squadron were 5 Avro Ansons Mk I, formerly
to the 13th Naval co-operation Squadron.These had being flown to Egypt
the collapse of resistance in Greece, in April 1941.
5 Avro Ansons that escaped to the Middle East
aircraft identities were:
N52, N55, N56 and
Later they will acquire British serials as follows:
number of former RHAF personnel of all ranks, had managed to escape
Greece and made their way to Egypt.They were to provide the nucleus of
Greek Air Force in exile.
newly established 13th Light Bombing Squadron, was in a
re-incarnation of the 13th Naval co-operation Sqn. and
the 32nd Bomber Sqn., since all
its aircraft came from
the former unit, and its personnel from both dissolved squadrons.
establishment, a great effort
was made to organize it into a proper combat squadron, because in the
beginning, the small number of personnel
aircraft in charge, made it a flight, rather than a
training was intensive and continuous, despite the
great difficulties due to the obsolete aircraft, their unsuitable
harsh living conditions in the desert and the shortage of personnel.
first combat mission of the Squadron took place in
July 14, 1941 and was an anti-submarine patrol.
This was flown in Anson N56 with the crew of: Sqn.Ldr
S.Papadopoulos and Sgt P.Makris.
and anti-submarine patrols continued until
November of 1941, when the Squadron was ordered to move to Mariyut near
of the same year received its first Blenheim IV aircraft.
came from 108 MU and were the following:
aircraft were in poor
condition, they demanded long maintenance and were not what the
13th had expected. But, they had to make do. R.A.F
nothing else to spare.
After initial training with the ”new” aircraft, the
Squadron started patrols
and convoy escort duties in the Eastern
January 1942 the Squadron moved again, this time
to LG 86 where it stayed until January the next year. More Blenheims
arriving and gradually the Ansons, which until then had soldiered on,
phased out because of the lack of spares and insurmountable maintenance
escort and anti-submarine patrols were
the main missions of the Squadron for the whole of 1942 and these were
accomplished in the best possible way. In many occasions, enemy
spotted and duly attacked by the Blenheims of the Squadron.
of Greece visits the 13th Squadron in LG 86.In the background Blenheim
28 Blenheim IV Z9550, crew: Plt Off I.Papoutsis,
Lt Papadiamantopoulos and Sgt F.Saridis, while on convoy escort duty,
large enemy submarine forcing it to crash-dive North of Port Said.
Similar incidents were to be repeated in numerous
the Squadron moved to Gaza,
stay in LG 227 (Gianaklis). At the same time, a flight of 6-8
aircraft was detached to Saint Jean in Palestine,
convoy escort duties.
The contribution of the 13th Light Bombing
Squadron to the Allied effort was significant, helping in the
convoys, so vital for the operations in the North African front.
In August, another 13th Sq.
Blenheim, this time with crew: W.O Galanakos, Plt Off Karayannis, and F.Sgt Gounelakis, spotted an enemy
the convoy which they were protecting. They immediately
with depth charges.
In October, again Plt Off Papoutsis,Captain Stavreas and F.Sgt Makris, in Blenheim
surprised an enemy sub, hitting it with
four depth charges from a height of 10 ft!
During the same month, it was the turn of W.O
Galanakos, Plt Off Patsis
and F.Sgt Gounelakis, in Blenheim IV V6257. They successfully bombed an
sub, observing a large oil spot in the position where the sub had dived.
Records show that in
August 1942, the axis submarines
in the Mediterranean suffered their
losses since 1940.
Squadron's Bisleys prepares for a mission.
To this end the 13th
"Hellenic Squadron" ,
as it was called in the R.A.F, helped with all
Soon, the first Blenheim Vs, or Bisleys were received and the Squadron started
training on the type.
This version of the Blenheim had better
performance and better bombing capabilities.
Operational flying continued until November 1942, when
the Squadron left Gaza
and St.Jean and moved back to LG 227.
New movement in the beginning of 1943, this time
to LG 07 between Marsa Matruh and Sidi Barrani.
During this time because of the shortage
of personnel of certain qualifications, it was decided to
These were the Training
Radio-Operators , and the Air Navigators
The performance during the operations and the
training of the Squadron was appreciated by the R.A.F
Command which promised to send more
This promise was fulfilled on April of ’43, with
7 more Bisleys. The arrival of newer aircraft contributed to the
of missions flown, reduced the accident rate and gave a boost
the morale of the personnel.
The 13th Hellenic Squadron was among
the 3 squadrons of 201 Group with the less accidents, the other two
being 252 Sqn.
and 459 Sqn.
Again on the road in August, this time for Gambut
(Derna) in Libya.
the training of personnel, continued
In September, the time came for the Squadron to
acquire an aircraft worth of the expectations and certainly the
of its airmen. After many requests of the RHAF leadership to the R.A.F
more potent aircraft, the latter decided to replace the Bisleys
13th Hellenic Squadron with Martin A30 Baltimores.
These aircraft were ordered by the R.A.F from the U.S., under the Lend-Lease agreement
used almost exclusively in the North African and Mediterranean
protection against the desert sun in the flightline of the
13th Hellenic Squadron in Gambut.
There could be no real comparison between the Baltimore
whatever aircraft type the Squadron had flown until then.
It was much faster, heavily armed and carried a much
heavier weapons load. It had a top speed of 300 mph, armament
less than 10-12 guns and could carry almost a ton of bombs and other
Many of the aircraft received were brand new, and did
not come from other R.A.F
squadrons, as was the norm until then.
The first aircraft to arrive were 4 Mk IVs:
Three more followed the next day:
Intensive training started on the new type both in
various OTUs and on the newly received aircraft.
At the same time a number of British Warrant
and Flight Sergeants were attached to the Squadron, as air gunners and
Immediately the qualities of the new aircraft were put
to the test.For the first time, along with the anti-submarine
convoy escorts, offensive reconnaissance and even attacks on the
islands and other targets were undertaken.
In one of these attacks on November 12, Baltimores of 13th Hellenic Squadron
the German positions in the heavily defended port
of Souda, in Crete.
Crew : Plt Off Assanakis, Fg Off Hionidis, Plt Off Maniatis
and Sgt Hayball.
Crew: Plt Off Fragoyannis, Plt Off Sarantis
, Sgt Delentas and Sgt Baines.
Crew: Plt Off Kondos, Plt Off Katsaros, Sgt Logan and Sgt Sutherns.
Crew: Fg Off Sotiriou, Plt Off Marmaras, W.O Stratidakis, and Sgt Sherwood.
Under intensive A/A fire they successfully bombed
their targets, when they were attacked by three Arado Ar 196
gunner of Baltimore “E” Sgt Baines, shot one of the attackers from a
of 400 yards
and observed thick smoke coming out of its engine. The German
although dangerous under certain circumstances were no match for
aircraft using their greater speed made it back to base safely.
By the end of 1943, the 13th Hellenic
Squadron had logged 1302 combat missions and 4550 flying hours. Certainly not a bad record.
In the spring of 1944 the Squadron received the order
to move to a new theatre of operations.
Destination this time : Italy.
First, the personnel and vehicles of the Squadron were
moved by sea, and then the aircraft followed, after a thorough
107 MU in Ismailia.
The new base was Biferno, near the town of Termoli.
Here, the 13th came under the 3rd
South African Wing.
From Biferno the Squadron started to fly for the first
exclusively in bombing missions. Targets were military facilities,
factories and railway junctions in German occupied Italian
territory. There were many successful missions in Pedaso, Fabriano,
Civittanova, Porto Recanate, etc.
the istallations of Ancona harbour, June 21, 1944.
Luga , Jugoslavia gets the treatment
June, the area of operations was expanded to include the whole of Yugoslavia.
same month the Squadron had to move again, this time to Pescara
airfield, without any interruption in
operations. Here the 13th Hellenic Squadron came under 254
R.A.F, as part of the “Balkan Air Force”.
The missions over Yugoslavia were far more
for the aircraft and crews, due to the heavily defended German
This became evident on July 28 1944, when six Baltimores
of the Squadron took off to bomb Sarajevo.
Over the target, one of the aircraft : FW452”D” with
crew Flt Lt Angelidis,
W.O Molyvadas, Plt Off Anastasiou
and F.Sgt W.Aldridge, got hit by flak and caught fire.
By coincidence this was a stand-by aircraft, replacing
which had a malfunction and had to abort the mission. All crew bailed
landed safely. Flt Lt Angelidis and F.Sgt Aldridge escaped capture and with
the help of the Yugoslav
partisans, managed to return to their unit in October.
Molyvadas and Plt Off Anastasiou
were caught by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in
Entry from the O.R.B of 13th Sq.
recording the fateful Sarajevo mission.
daily with ”maximum effort” and no break, until the end of
November 1944, the long awaited
return to the liberated Homeland became a reality after more than three
On the 14th
of that month, 16 Baltimores
landed in Hasani (today’s Ellinikon)
airfield, near Athens.
return to Greece
did not mean the end of
combat for the Squadron. Although mainland Greece
was liberated, Crete and other
still under German occupation. So, alongside the Spitfires of the other
fighter Squadrons the 335th and 336th
had also arrived in Greece,
of the 13th Squadron started bombing the German positions.
continued until the German withdrawal, in April of 1945. Along its
the Squadron undertook leaflet and supply drops and search and rescue
Greek Squadrons were under
337 Wing R.A.F based in Hasani airfield.
in front of their "Balts" after their arrival in
Greece.Aircraft "F" is FW453
political situation in Greece
during this time went from bad to worse, and soon civil war broke out.
obvious that the Hellenic Air Force, which started to take its first
steps, was going to need all the aircraft in its inventory,
especially the Baltimores
the 13th Squadron.
with 72 missions marked on its nose, and in the backround
contrary to all reason, the Squadron was ordered
to hand over these aircraft and exchange them with….Vickers Wellingtons!!
change which was opposed by the Command of the
Air Force and most vigorously by the leadership of the Squadron,
imposed by the British government, from which the aircraft were
acquired in the
first place and was their legal owner. The consequences of his
decision, will hamper the Air Force’s war
effort in the
following years. The Baltimore
will be sorely missed, especially in the
late stages of the civil war.
Then, lacking a dedicated ground attack aircraft,
the task to
dislodge the communist forces from their fortified positions in
mountains of Greece,
Spitfires, the only combat aircraft of the Hellenic Air
Force at the time and only towards the end of hostilities on the
acquired Curtiss Helldivers.
started to be handed over to the R.A.F in August of 1945,
last three aircraft leaving Greece
after an impressive flypast over Athens,
on September 18. All aircraft were flown to Kasfareet in Egypt,
where from they were either
sent to other
units, or scrapped.
apart from the fact that their usefulness to the Air Force was
also in bad condition, having come from long open storage in the
effort was demanded from the
keep them flying.
their introduction to the 13th Squadron’s
by two fatal accidents, and some other minor incidents,
nothing to dispel the dislike the crews
had developed for the aircraft.
were used mostly in the transport role and in training. Their service
Squadron was short and unremarkable, and from 1947 they were
replaced by C-47 “Dakotas.
the glorious history of the 13th
Hellenic Squadron came to an end. It was unceremoniously
a bombing squadron, to a transport one. Along with its role, it changed
name: from now on it will be called ”355 Transport Squadron”. Surely, an unfitting end for one of the most
units of the Hellenic Air Force.
convincing reason has been given for the transformation
of the 13th Squadron, especially at a time when it had a lot to
its original role and with suitable equipment).
Squadron’s ”nature” and its past experience, will
soon come to the fore when in the civil war, as 355 Transport
some of its Dakotas will be hastily modified to …drop bombs
the cargo door!!
years, the Hellenic Air Force reorganised,
re-equipped, grew in size and today is one of the biggest and more
modern in Europe.
New combat units were established and others were de-activated or
according to the operational needs.
be appropriate for the History
traditions of this Service, if a new unit takes the
of the ”13th Squadron”.
*At this period, a problem
arose by the fact that there were two squadrons in the
R.A.F bearing the
number 13, the first being the No 13 Squadron which
the ”original” and the other , the Greek 13th .In all official
the second unit was called ”Hellenic” and the letter "H"
appropriately placed after the Squadron’s number.This did not
many misunderstandings and the confusing of the two units.Things
not improve when at one point both squadrons operated in the
Mediterranean, both flying Baltimores!
Many years later,
researchers and historians still confuse the two squadrons. Back
Bristol Blenheims of 13th
BLENHEIM Vs (BISLEY)
| N 6147
| BA 106 R
BA 164 C
BA 165 A
BA 167 C
BA 228 F
BA 290 K
BA 294 V
BA 319 D(EH?)
BA 323 S
BA 324 K
BA 328 R
BA 336 L
BA 381 D
BA 384 L
BA 395 S
BA 399 E
BA 454 0
BA 487 A
BA 544 X
BA 580 P
BA 585 T
BA 847 F
BA 850 E
BA 934 H
BA 948 M
BA 949 B
EH 316 M
EH 408 N
Baltimores of 13th Hellenic Squadron
| AG 902"S"
| FA 219"E"
| FA 385"H"
| FW 294"R"
FW 411"R" *
*These aircraft were the first to
arrive in Greece on the 14th of November 1944.
XIII of 13th Hellenic Squadron
| MF 206"Y"
Copyright M.Solanakis 2002