Greece and Yugoslavia

After the early capture of Sicily and the landings in Italy, Allied Forces put further pressure on German resources with the Invasion of Greece and operations in Yugoslavia with the partisans of Tito. A mixed force from the Levant and Italy, Bucket Force, landed on the Peloponnese, with the intention of seizing the airhead at Araxos.

Otter light reconnaissance cars enter Salonika, Greece
Otter light reconnaissance cars enter Salonika, Greece.

The Regiment component for the invasion of Greece was 1321 Wing with 2 field and 2 LAA squadrons and 2908 Squadron landing with the SBS, Long Range Desert Group and others. 41 members of the Regiment, specially trained in mine clearance also landed. The group drove forward to secure Patras the major port where they harassed the German rearguard with some brisk action in which one of the 6-pounders of 2908 Squadron’s Support Weapons Flight sank a German E Boat.

Crossing into mainland Greece, 2908 entered Athens on the 14th of October 1944. The Squadron then split with one half going south to pacify Sparta and one to cut off German forces trying to retreat through Albania. The liberation of Greece saw a political battle between the countries Communist and the Greek Government in exile erupt. The communist ELAS staged a huge uprising in early December, which resulted in the capture of Air Headquarters in Athens, despite the Commander having been advised that the position was untenable for defence. A relief column was dispatched, arriving 4 hours late to find the defenders – after keeping over 1000 partisans at bay for 48 hours – had surrendered because they had run out of ammunition. 1321 Wing HQ and 2928 Squadron were marched into the mountains where they suffered many deprivations at the hands of ELAS with many casualties.

1303113 Corporal George Henry WINGATE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Royal Air Force Regiment

This airman has shown daring and coolness under extremely trying conditions in the face of the enemy, whilst operating north of Kozani. On one occasion, whilst he was driving the flight commander’s car during a reconnaissance of enemy positions, the vehicle came under enemy cannon fire. A number of direct hits were sustained and the officer was killed, whilst Corporal Wingate was wounded in the side. Despite his injuries he showed great coolness and courage in his determination to bring his badly damaged vehicle back. He succeeded in spite of extremely heavy fire.

Citation for the award of the Military Medal, London Gazette – 12 June 1945

1456832 Leading Aircraftman Peter Leslie WARD Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Royal Air Force Regiment


Whilst the squadron was operating at Megalo Pekvo an enemy patrol was sighted approaching their position. Leading Aircraftman Ward, who was in command of an R.A.F. vehicle, moved forward. The patrol was dispersed and several of the enemy were killed and wounded. Others made their way towards the beach and Leading Aircraftman Ward pursued them in his vehicle. He returned later having destroyed a machine gun and captured four prisoners. Leading Aircraftman Ward has invariably shown initiative and daring and his car has frequently led essential convoys, under fire, between R.A.F. headquarters and other military installations. It has been largely due to his efforts that no serious trouble has occurred during such operations.

Citation for the award of the Military Medal, London Gazette – 12 June 1945

The RAF Regiment units operated in Yugoslavia because Tito had refused British Army help, so enterprising RAF Commanders brought their own help. The Balkan Air Force had its HQ in Bari and Regiment units operated as part of the Special Forces Raiding Force in the Adriatic. The pressure from Tito because of the continuing success of the squadrons proved to be enough for the units to be withdrawn to Austria in early 1945.