Military History Online – The Office of Strategic Services and Greece: The Missing Link of the Mediterranean Campaign

reece entered the Second World War in October 1940. Fascist Italy invaded the Northwest frontier but the Greek Army counterattacked reaching Albania. In April 1941 the Wehrmacht invaded from the Greek-Bulgarian borders. By late May, Greek and Commonwealth units fought fiercely in mainland Greece and Crete but eventually they withdrew to Egypt. The Greek government in exile was hosted in London. The occupation experience in Greece has been of the harshest in Europe. Thousands died of famine in Athens in 1941-1942 and German units burned down and destroyed villages killing indiscriminately men, women and children. The British Military Mission and the Special Operations Executive established a close co-operation with the Greek guerillas, the Antartes. At the time the United States entered the war many Greek-Americans served in the rank and file of the US Army. The Greek government in exile urged the US government the Greek-Americans to fight in Greece and contribute in the resistance. Thus, in January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the 122nd Infantry Battalion, based in Camp Carson, in Colorado. The number ‘122’ was meant to have a symbolic meaning; it marked the 122 years of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire. head of the new formation was appointed Major Peter Clainos of Manchester, New Hampshire, a Greek-American, born in Sparta in 1907, who graduated from the West Point. American officers, like Lieutenant Robert Houlihan were also called up to fill in the rank and file. Houlihan was considered eligible by the War Department because he just had ‘studied Greek at a prep school in Wisconsin’. Eventually, he was the one to head the C Company, 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion aka the Greek Operational Group of the Office of Strategic Services.

Source: Military History Online – The Office of Strategic Services and Greece: The Missing Link of the Mediterranean Campaign

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