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Hunt class destroyer escort "Adrias" of the Royal Greek Navy in 1942. (courtesy

Mined and badly damaged off Kos island on the 22nd October 1943, she was not repaired.


JUNE 1940

Italy declares war on Britain and France

Italy's Mediterranean possessions include the Dodecanese Islands in the southern Aegean off Turkey.

They were taken from Turkey in 1912 and include - from north to south - Patmos (once the Roman prison island of the apostle St John), Leros, Kalymnos, Kos and the much larger island of Rhodes.





Italy - Surrender and Invasion - The Italian surrender is signed in Sicily on the 3rd, but not announced until the 8th partly in the forlorn hope of preventing the Germans from taking over the country. Before long they control most of Italy and have disarmed - often bloodily - Italian forces in the Dodecanese islands.

British Aegean Campaign - With the surrender of Italy, Winston Churchill wants to seize the Italian Dodecanese islands in the southern Aegean before the Germans can establish themselves. From here the Allies can threaten Greece and support Turkey, but the Americans and some British commanders are lukewarm on what they see as a sideshow compared with the battle for Italy. Insufficient forces and especially aircraft are made available, and the Germans soon take Rhodes from where, together with other bases, they maintain air superiority throughout the coming campaign.

On the 15th and 16th, British troops occupy Kos, Leros, Samos and other smaller islands. The Royal Navy has the task of supplying and reinforcing them, as well as attacking German supply routes. The potential parallels with Norway, Greece and Crete all those many months back are obvious, if only in hindsight.

26th - After carrying troops to Leros, destroyers "Intrepid" and Greek "Queen Olga" are attacked by Ju88s while at anchor in the harbour. "QUEEN OLGA" soon goes down and "INTREPID" capsizes next day.


British Aegean Campaign - On the 3rd, German troops land on British-held Kos, which falls next day. More German forces head for the Kos and on the 7th a convoy of seven small ships and one escort is annihilated by cruisers "Penelope" and "Sirius" and two destroyers. As they withdraw through the Scarpanto Strait, "Penelope" is damaged in attacks by Ju87s and Ju88s. More sweeps and more supply trips lead to further losses, particularly amongst the 'Hunts', through to November:

9th - Returning from a sweep west of Kos, cruiser "Carlisle" and destroyers are dive-bombed in the Scarpanto Strait area by Ju87 Stukas. "CARLISLE" is seriously damaged and never fully repaired; destroyer PANTHER is sunk.

17th - Cruiser "Sirius" is damaged by bombs south of Scarpanto Strait.

22nd - Greek 'Hunt' "ADRIAS" is badly damaged off Kos on mines laid by the German "Drache", and as sister ship "HURWORTH" goes to her aid, is also mined. She sinks with heavy casualties.

24th - Destroyer "ECLIPSE" falls victim to the same minefield.

30th - Cruiser "Aurora" is damaged in bombing attacks.

Mid-October - The second Royal Navy submarine failing to return is "TROOPER". She set out from Beirut in the Lebanon on 26th September for Dodecanese patrol and does not get back on the 17th. German records claim she was sunk by a Q-ship off Kos on the 14th