Four's Destiny

May I tell you about an upcoming anniversary here in the island of Leros? Few will have heard of the intense battle which was fought here in 1943 when the Italians, who had controlled the island since 1912, changed sides and became allies of the forces fighting to overcome Hitler's Nazis. On September 26th, the battle to control this highly strategic island (which boasts the largest deep water natural harbour in the Mediterranean) started with the sinking, by German bombers, of the Greek destroyer "Vasilissa Olga" and the disabling of the British ship, HMS Intrepid, which subsequently sank, in Leros harbour.
The ensuing battle began with weeks of almost unopposed German bombing. In November, British, Italian and Commonwealth troops, with virtually no air cover, desperately fought highly efficient and motivated German troops landed by ship and parachute. After 5 days of fierce fighting the battle culminated in the surrender of the allied forces and the loss of the Dodecanese Islands to the Nazis.
This year will see a major commemoration of this battle in Leros. Wreaths will be floated over the site of the sunken “Olga” (now a war cemetery) and Greek, Italian and British people will lay wreaths at the various memorials, including the British war cemetery which is the final resting place of 127 allied casualties.
There are a number of histories written about this little known battle and Alistair Maclean’s “Guns of Navarone” was inspired by Leros’ fearsome defensive batteries. This little known event will be particularly interesting to the families of those who served in Leros as well as the few remaining survivors in this 75th anniversary year.
My recently published novel, “Four’s Destiny” tells the story of 4 young men, Italian (Marco), Greek (Yiannis), English (Godfrey) and German (Rolf), who meet in pre-war Germany at the Nuremburg Hitler Youth rally.
When war breaks out, the four serve their countries in various fields of battle. In Leros, in 1943, their lives merge again when Rolf leads a squadron of bombers to attack the “Olga”, on which Yiannis is serving. The ship has transported members of the Long Range Desert Group to the island – among whom is Godfrey. Marco is now serving on an anti-aircraft gun above the harbour which Rolf’s plane, mortally wounded, strafes in his final act before crashing.
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Michael Powell, 03.09.2018 | More from Michael Powell’s blog