Pre-Operation. Group entered Greece May 21 at Parga cove and moved E across Greece to Mt. Paikon area, NW of Salonica and about 30 miles from Yugoslavian border. Lt. George Papazoglou, the original CO, was injured by a fall in July and evacuated from Greece. Lt. Lon Peyton became CO.
Personnel. OGs under Lt. Peyton; RSR; Andartes.
August 6. At one of the RR targets selected on the Salonica-Athens line and one of its branches the Group took positions to ambush train at 0130 with Andartes providing flank security. Explosives were placed to blow the track. A train arriving at 0530 was derailed by the explosion and heavy fire was placed for ten minutes, followed by slow fire. Enemy fire was ineffective and after 15 minutes the enem y surrendered. Report indicates train had 52 cars and was loaded with medical supplies, mules, weapons and ammo, and some trucks. Of over 200 Italians and Germans, dead and wounded totalled 126 and prisoners 80. The Andartes looted the cars and set them afire.
Aug. 10. OGs returned to Paikon after a stay at forward assembly area at Kerasios.
Personnel. OGs; RSR; Andartes
August 18/19. Target was a strongly fortified garrison of a school building and three buildings for personnel in a mined and fenced cleared area. Forces took positions within 100 yards of the area firing from 2300 to 0530 hours using 384 rounds per M1, 62 bazooka rounds and 5800 BAR rounds. A huge fire was created when the gas supply ignited and burned the personnel buildings. Of 300 enemy, 97 were killed, some were lost in the burning buildings and those who escaped were caught later by Andartes. Andartes lost 3 men and 19 were wounded. No OG casualties.
Operations 3 & 4. Ghevohili RR.
Personnel. Similar to Operation 1.
August 22. Target was an express train with troops and supplies that ran each morning and it was to be ambushed as it reached a blown trestle. Andarte responsible for blowing it was sound asleep and the train went right on by.
August 25. On second try, Andartes were sighted by patrol who sent warning. A decoy sent along the track was fired on, revealing the presenc e of the party, which then withdrew.
A failed operation meant wasted effort of moving from a forward assembly area to the target with men loaded with the ammo and weapons ordinarily borne by mules. Trails were rocky and rough and in the darkness you couldn't see the man in front of you, and you had to stop and listen to be sure you were on the right trail.
August 27(?). OGs, RSR, and Andartes moved to positions at mine area. In this area with encircling barbed wire entanglements and tri-wire mine fields were, beside the mine shafts, housed turbines powered by dammed water.
August 28(?). At 0545 area was put under heavy fire. Lt. Peyton took 6 men to assault the mine under cover of rest of OGs. The Captain with Cpls. Minogianis and Gianotes descended a ravine, took out a MG, crossed a mine field, and Cpls. Leygisos and Photis had taken out another MG. 75 Germans were killed and 28 captured. The buildings were assaulted, two more MGs inactivated, and demolitions were used to destroy the buildings, dams and mine shafts.
To protect troops coming to join Lt. Peyton's force, the Lt. placed a four-man guard on a crossing used by the Germans requiring a two-day march from base. The crossing was successfully accomplished.
Operation 7. Phanas bridges.
Personnel. OGs; RSR; Andartes.
Sept. 7. Lt. Peyton with RSR and Andarte officers reconnoitered the area where 7 bridges were to be blown. The Lt. and a RSR officer cleared a path through the trap-wire mine field to a railroad which reached a pillbox controlling access to all bridges.
Sept. 8. At 0500 the assault team, consisting of Lt. Peyton and 4 volunteers: T/Sgt Gates, & Cpls. Psarakis, Amerades and Papavassiliou, crept down to the RR tracks, and the rest of the team moved into assigned positions. At 0600, on signal from the Lt., bazooka rounds were fired and the assault party ran down the track past the pillbox and crossed over the bridge to the house occupied by the Germans. Armed Germans coming out of the house were shot down. The Lt. threw grenades into rooms and sprayed with his Tommy gun under the men's protection. .Initial call for surrender called only rifle fire. After more grenades, two wounded crawled out.
The assault team at the pillbox took it with grenades and Tommy gun fire. The munitions crew destroyed all 7 bridges.
The operation took 5 minutes. Cpl. Psarakas was hit in the leg but told the Lt. only later.
Operation 8 Yannitsa school garrison.
Personnel As in Operation 2.
Sept. 18. In a daytime mission another attempt to destroy the school building which was a German garrison, Lt. Peyton, T/Sgt. Gates and Sgt. Bichekas and their details opened up sealed windows but the Andartes failed to accomplish their objective of dynamiting the targets. Enemy fire ruined the ammo supply. On withdrawal of the forces, three wounded OGs were able to ride mules but Sgt. Bichekas required a carrying party. Number of enemy casualties was not known. Germans in reprisal burned part of the town.
Operations 9 & 10. Return to Ghevohili RR and Phanas mine.
Enemy had tightened defences and OGs considered sniping in small parties. No Germans were spotted in two days' observation at the RR. Mine area was evacuated and showed no activity over two days. OGs returned to Paikon.
Operation 11 Apsolos
After 10 days of rain, OGs went from Polycarpi Hq to Apsolos where Germans had a post guarding the road. At 1215, with Germans eating and milling around, OGs opened fire, continued till ammo was used up and withdrew. German return fire was ineffective. OGs returned to Policarpi. It was later learned that all posts were evacuated and the area was nearly free of Germans.
Lt. Peyton planned to ambush a patrol at
Phanos but he received orders to return to Ardea for evacuation.
This summary of the Balkan Operational Groups was extracted from records of the National Archives provided through the courtesy of Lt. Col. Ian D. W. Sutherland. Attorney Sutherland is the compiler of the encyclopedic "Special Forces of the United States Army, 1952-1982"