Greeks in Normandy Invasion: Who they were and how they fought

Friday, June 6, 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the Western Allied Forces landing in Normandy. Soldiers from Dodekanisa Greek islands took part in the military operations during the Normandy invasion.

Stathis Papaststikos from Kastellorizo served on the Greek torpedo boat “Navarino,” which took part in the military operation alongside other Greek warships. He is one of the few survivors of the Normandy invasion.

“Our destroyer followed and protected American and English cargo ships containing soldiers and tanks to land in Normandy coasts.” says the elderly soldier who can’t forget the excitement Navarino’s crew felt when informed of the successful military assault in on June 6, 1944, otherwise commonly known as D-Day.

During his interview in “Rhodiaki” newspaper, Stathis Papastatikos, today aged 87, describes the heroic moments of the landing with emotion “As soon as we were informed that the Allies had landed in Normandy we started celebrating, throwing our hats in the air.” The interview was taken in 2010, 66 years after the memorable era.

Greek ships “Kriezis” and “Tobazi” played an important role in the invasion. Kleanthis Zervos from the Greek island Kalymnos, who served as a lieutenant in “Kriezis” was later elected a Dodekanesian MP with the Greek socialist party PASOK.

“We knew this invasion would be the beginning and the end of World War II” highlights Papastatikos. “Our ship was very strong and my duty was to fill the firearms when we were fighting against German ships” he proudly adds.

Stathis Papastatikos was born in Kastellorizo. When Germans bombarded the island he had to escape by boat and reach the Turkish city Antifylos. At that time, he was only 18 years old. The English unit located in Antifylos, sent the young fisherman and other soldiers from Dodekanisa in Cyprus and this is when his big adventure started.

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