Back in the autumn of 1943, a fierce battle was fought in and around Leros Island, between the British and the Germans, for the control of the Dodecanese Islands, after the capitulation of the Fascist Italian regime in September 1943, which occupied the islands since 1912.
The Germans managed to take control of the island of Leros, after a battle that lasted for several days, involving naval forces, parachutists, Brandenburg troopers, aircraft and land forces.
Junkers Ju 52 & Stuka lifted from sea
In 2003, a Junkers Ju 52, which was shot down over Alinda Bay in Leros on 13-14 November 1943, was salvaged after a difficult operation and was transported back to the Hellenic Air Force Museum in Tatoi, Athens to be maintained and exhibited.
Among the debris, the remains of a German soldier were found and with the assistance of authorities, they were identified and returned back to his relatives. Other items salvaged include guns, ammunition, personal effects and are now on display at the HAF Museum in Tatoi, Athens.
Following a painstaking restoration process, the Ju 52 is now on permanent display at the HAF Museum. Bullet holes from anti-aircraft guns are still evident of the ill-fated aircraft that was shot down in November of 1943.
Another treasure of the seas was found and salvaged, a Junkers Ju 87 ‘Stuka’ (Sturzkampfflugzeug) dive bomber, which was shot down during the same period. The Stuka bomber took off from Rodos island, which was controlled by the Germans and flew sorties over Leros. According to various sources the aircraft is most probably S7+GM (100375), crewed by Lt. Rudolf ‘Rolf’ Metzger & Uffz. Hans Sopnemann), which was shot down on 9 October 1943.
On that very day the II/St.G. 3 lost a total of nine Ju 87D-3/Trop when they were intercepted during their mission against Royal Navy and Hellenic Navy ships in the Aegean. Of these nine, seven crashed into the sea and two made emergency landings on Rodos. A week before, German troops had landed on the island of Kos, which fell the next day. On 9 October 1943, HMS cruiser “Carlisle” and other destroyers, returning from a sweep west of Kos, were dive-bombed SW of Rodos Island by a formation of Ju-87 Stukas. “Carlisle” was seriously damaged and HMS destroyer “Panther” was sunk. Most of her crew were saved by the RHN destroyer “Miaoulis”, which has also claimed firing against the Ju-87 formation and probably hit a couple of them.
– (Source: Hellenic Air Force)