I was talking to a family friend from Karpathos, Greece, today, and he claimed that this campaign was planned only to make the germans believe the invasion was not to take place in Italy. Somehow I always thought it was something Winston Churchill wished for to erase a major failure of him at WWI. Maybe somebody knows more on this?The Dodecanese Campaign of World War II was an attempt by Allied forces, mostly British, to capture the Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea following the surrender of Italy in September 1943, and use them as bases against the German-controlled Balkans. The Allied effort failed, with the whole of the Dodecanese falling to the Germans within two months, and the Allies suffering heavy losses in men and ships. The operations in the Dodecanese, lasting from 8 September to 22 November 1943, resulted in one of the last major German victories in the war.
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Churchill wanted to withdraw one division from Italy but the chiefs of staff told him that any withdrawal from Italy would give the Germans an opportunity to counterattack. He then contacted Roosevelt and tried to get him to order Eisenhower to release forces from Italy but Roosevelt refused. Churchill was then going to fly out to Tunis to meet Eisenhower but Roosevelt refused to agree to a meeting and rejected the idea that the combined chiefs of staff discuss the matter. Allan Brooke said of Churchill and the Dodecanese Islands “he has magnified its importance so that he can no longer see anything else……..He refused to listen to any arguments or to see any dangers.”
From Churchill by Clive Ponting.
The British defeat in the Dodecanese Islands though on a smaller scale is very comparable to what happened in Greece in 1941. Both debacles were down to Churchill.