Πέμπτη, 2 Ιουνίου 2016

NATO Tiger Meet 2016: When tigers fly!

The NATO Tiger Association or the Association of Tiger Squadrons was established in 1961. Promoted by French Defence minister Pierre Messmer, its role is to promote solidarity between NATO air forces. It is not, though, part of the formal NATO structure.

The USAFE (United States Air Force Europe) 79th TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) took the initiative and on 19 July 1961 they invited No. 74 Squadron RAF and EC (Fighter Squadron) 1/12 Provence of the French Armée de l'air to Woodbridge in England. France was then a full military member of NATO.

As of May 2016, the squadrons included in the Association are 24 full members, 10 honorary members, and 7 disbanded members, all of which have a tiger as part of its squadron crest. 

As well as being opportunities for NATO air forces to share ideas and experiences, the ‘Tiger Meets’ are also public relations exercises for NATO. NATO aircraft are often brightly painted with tiger stripes.

The Hellenic Air Force participated with an appropriately painted "tiger" F-16 Block 52+ Adv.


Tiger Meet Data

NATO Tiger Meet 2016
Hosted From Monday, 16th May
Hosted until Friday, 27th May
Host: Ala 15
BA Zaragoza, Spain


NTA Members - Flying Participants
Ala 15 (SpAF)
BA Zaragoza
EF-18+ Hormet (6x)
142 Esc (SpAF)
EF2000 Typhoon (6x)
21° Gruppo (ItAF)
AB-212ICO (2x)
31 smd (BAF)
Kleine Brogel
F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (8x)
TaktLwG 74 (GAF)
EF2000 Typhoon (8x)
11F (FN)
BAN Landiviseau
Rafale M (6x)
ECE 01/30 (FAF)
BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan
Mirage 2000D (4x)
335 Mira (HAF)
F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon (4x)
313 sqn (RNlAF)
Vlb. Volkel
F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (2x)
(1st week only)
59/1 Sqn (HuAF)
JAS-39C/D Gripen (5x)
338 Skv (RNoAF)
MAS Ørland
F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (6x)
(Only from Wednesday )
MOB Geilenkirchen
E-3A Sentry (2x)
6 ELT (PolAF)
Poznan-Krzesiny AB
F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon (6x)
211 TL (CzAF)
Cáslav AFB
JAS-39C/D Gripen (4x)
221 LtBVr (CzAF)
Mi-24 Hind (2x)
221 LtBVr (CzAF)
Mi-17 Hip (1x)
Staffel 11 (ChAF)
F/A-18C/D Hornet (5x)
192 Filo (TuAF)
Balikesir AB
F-16C/D Block 50 Fighting Falcon (5x)
230 Sqn (RAF)
RAF Benson
Puma HC.2 (1x)





The Battle of Floria, Crete, 23 May 1941, the nazi atrocities and the monuments, then (1941) and now (2016)

On the morning of May 23, 1941 the Battle of Crete is raging.The Germans have put a firm foothold on the island, securing the vital airport at Maleme, after the New Zealanders who defended it withdrew, following the chaotic hours after the start of the invasion. This proved to be the turning point of the Battle, as the Germans managed to fly in reinforcements and material that helped them wipe out the Allied forces.

small motorized German detachment (riding motorcycles with MG 34 machine guns on their sidecars) attempted to move through Floria village on 23 May 1941, aiming to reach and secure Paleochora is on its way to the southern coast of Crete, from where the Allied troops hoped to be evacuated to Egypt, on their long retreat through the mountains of Crete. 

When the nazis enter the village of Floria, they are met with fierce resistance by the local inhabitants. Some of them are armed with obsolete muskets, others with scythes, most of them with sticks and stones. 

Albeit untrained and insufficiently armed, local civilians spontaneously confronted and fought the German force in Floria. 

On the following day, the locals gathered in larger numbers and set an ambush for the advancing German troops of the 5th Gebirgs Division (elements of the 55 motorcycle Battalion and the 95 anti-tank Battalion), at Kandanos' gorge.

Despite their strong resistance on 24 and 25 May and their limited casualties, the locals were vastly outnumbered and were thus eventually forced to retreat in the mountains, letting the Germans advance towards Paleochora.

The repercussions of his largely forgotten incident are soon to be seen: While the Battle of Crete was still being fought, the Germans murdered unarmed civilians and when the Battle was over, by June 1st, they started murdering civilians and burning down villages on a large scale, with one of this mass murders immortalised through the photos of a German war correspondent who shot all the sequence of the mass execution at Kontomari village.

Soon after the Battle was over, the Germans erected a monument in Floria village, which remains as it nearly was in 1941 to this day and veterans and their families visit regularly to pay their respect to their fallen comrades.

Right opposite this German monument, another one can be seen: A monument in honour of the villagers of Floria who were murdered by the Germans during he nazi occupation of Crete, which proved to be as brutal and inhumane, as in almost every spot the Germans et their foot upon in Greece, an endless list of atrocities, mass killings, burnings of villages and other heinous acts, hat went largely unpunished after the war was over.

During the Battle of Crete, the invading German forces had suffered heavy losses. Furthermore, the unprecedented resistance from the local population exasperated their Prussian sense of military order according to which no one but professional warriors should be allowed to fight. 

Even before the end of the Battle, exaggerated stories had started to circulate, attributing the excessively high casualties to torture and mutilation of paratroopers by the Cretans. 

Such stories proved to be false later on, as more careful investigations could identify only a few cases of mutilation all over Crete, most of which had been inflicted after death.

Nevertheless, as a result of the above allegations and seeking to set an example, right after the surrender of Crete on 31 May, temporary commander General Kurt Student issued an order for launching a wave of brutal reprisals against the local population. 

The reprisals were to be carried out rapidly by the same units who had been confronted by the locals, omitting formalities.

On June 3, 1941, a day after murdering unarmed civilians in Kontomari, German troops from the III Battalion of the 1st Air Landing Assault Regiment (most probably led by Oberleutnant Horst Trebes) reached Kandanos, following Student's order for reprisals. 

A German soldier in front of one of the signs erected after the razing. The text reads: "Kandanos was destroyed in retaliation for the bestial ambush murder of a paratrooper platoon and a half-platoon of military engineers by armed men and women."

The Germans killed about 180 residents and slaughtered all livestock; all houses were torched and razed. 

Nearby villages such as Floria and Kakopetro met a similar fate. After its destruction, Kandanos was declared a 'dead zone' and its remaining population was forbidden to return to the village and rebuild it. 

Finally, inscriptions in German and Greek were erected on each entry of the village. One of them read: "Here stood Kandanos, destroyed in retribution for the murder of 25 German soldiers, never to be rebuilt again".

After the surrender of Germany, General Kurt Student was captured by the British. In May 1947, he came before a military tribunal to answer charges of mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war by his forces in Crete. 

Greece's demand to have Student extradited was declined. Student was found guilty of three out of eight charges and sentenced to five years in prison. However, he was given a medical discharge and was released in 1948. Student was never tried for crimes against civilians.

Today, Kandanos has been rebuilt and is the seat of the eponymous municipality. Reproductions of the sombre Wehrmacht signposts commemorating the destruction of the village are displayed on a local war memorial.


Following Student's order, the occupants of KonTomari were blamed for the death of a few German soldiers whose bodies had been found near the village. 

On 2 June 1941, four lorries full of German paratroopers from the III Battalion of Luftlande-Sturm-Regiment 1 under the command of Oberleutnant Horst Trebes surrounded Kondomari. 

Trebes, a former member of the Hitler Youth, was the highest-ranking officer of the Battalion to have survived the Battle unwounded. 

Men, women and children were forced to gather in the village square. Then, a number of hostages was selected among the men while women and children were released. The hostages were led to the surrounding olive groves and later fired upon.

The exact number of the victims is unclear. According to German records, a total of 23 men were killed but other sources raise the toll to about 60. 

The whole operation was captured on film by Franz-Peter Weixler, then serving as a war propaganda correspondent (kriegsberichter) for the Wehrmacht.


Τετάρτη, 1 Ιουνίου 2016

The end of the Battle of Crete - 75th anniversary, 1941-2016

The Sun News-Pictorial

2 June 1941

British in Crete withdraw

15,000 troops reach Egypt: Big losses reported.

"After 12 days of undoubtedly the fiercest fighting in this war, it has been decided to withdraw our forces from Crete" the War Office announces.

Bestiality knew no bounds

prepping the public opinion for the loss of Crete

not that much of a "military expert"

The Fallschirmjäger memorial in Crete, then (1941) and now (2016)

Then... (1941)

...and now (2016)

The Fallschirmjäger memorial (German: Fallschirmjäger-Denkmal) is a German war memorial for German parachutists who fell during the ten-day Battle of Crete in World War II. 

The memorial, known to Cretans as the German bird (Greek: Γερμανικό πουλί, Germaniko pouli) or the Evil bird (Greek: Κακό πουλί, Kako pouli), was erected in 1941 by the occupation forces and is located about 3 kilometers west of Chania on the road to Agii Apostoli.

 The invasion of Crete in May 1941 was the first major airborne assault in history. Despite their victory, the elite German paratroopers suffered such heavy losses that Adolf Hitler forbade further airborne operations of such large scale for the rest of the war.

The memorial was erected at the end of a stone staircase leading to the top of a small hill. It consisted of a tall pedestal built from stone blocks, atop which stood a concrete diving eagle gripping a swastika in its talons. 

The eagle's posture was that of the paratrooper insignia. The latter was a badge awarded to soldiers of the Luftwaffe after completion of parachute training and the required number of jumps.

Originally in the countryside, Germaniko pouli is today encompassed by dense urban buildings and has lent its name to the surrounding area. 

Apart from the swastika which was covered with cement soon after the liberation of Crete, the memorial stood more or less intact until the early 2000s. 

In the winter of 2001, a storm demolished most of the eagle's body and parts of it are kept in a construction materials site, according to locals.

Today, the pedestal and its inscription are in a derelict state and mostly covered with graffiti. There have been some discussions and controversy whether it should be restored or demolished.  

The Paratrooper-Cenotaph was built near the former capital Chania after the victorious end of the internecine battle during May 20 to 28 in 1941. It is dedicated to the dead soldiers of the II. Batalion of the „Sturmregiment“.

The commander of this Batalion, Maj. Stenzler, formed the inscription of the cenotaph:

1. Batalion ”Sturmregiment“
In the battle of Crete May 20 – 28 in 1941,
To you belongs our gratitude, the dead soldiers
Who far from home
In faith to your oath of allegiance
Gave your lives
To our great Germany


PART TWO: Rod Pearce and his Odyssey in Papua New Guinea for WW2 Wrecks and their MIA crews

Rod Pearce has dedicated his time and efforts finding underwater aircraft wrecks and seeking closure to the families of hundreds -if not thousands- of Missing in Action (MIA) airmen from all nations that fought during World War Two.

Here is the second part of his very interesting interview:

When you manage to find an aircraft wreck and identify it, possibly finding out who the pilot was, do you feel like bringing closure to the members of his family?

Oh yes, definitely. Whether it be Japanese, Australian or American it is always a feeling of closure for the family and myself, especially if the aircraft is Australian as I am Australian by birth.

How important is it to preserve those relics for generations to come?

Unfortunately, aircraft in the sea will gradually deteriorate through corrosion, coverage by sand, coral and here in Rabaul volcanic ash, but above all, through human damage, whether it be divers or a ship's anchor.

I would like to see them preserved in some way, even brought up, restored and displayed however the cost of doing this is beyond anyone's dreams.

Because in the next hundred years or so, these will have gone forever or a great majority of them.

The war time ship wrecks are beginning to fall apart through rust and that's only in 70 years.

Having said this, I would like to stress that I am appalled by the practice some (affluent) individuals within the private collector communities employs, by backhanding money to corrupt officials and conning local communities (who often don't know any better) for illegal salvage deals of in-situ aircraft - especially when this is done for personal gain to private collections.

Any such salvage or recovery operation, the way I see it, detracts and contributes to the vanishing heritage of World War II.

In my opinion, aircraft - if salvaged and restored - should be in museums for all to see, and not in some private person's collection.

Do you believe you are raising public awareness to a long gone and perhaps forgotten part of your country's history by finding aircraft wrecks?

Certainly, by raising awareness to the plight of MIA's - that someone actually cares. 

Two cases come to mind VH-CIJ with 19 MIA's found recently in Papua New Guinea and another C47 yet to be found VH-CIZ 22 MIAs, hopefully the awareness will motivate
the authorities into perhaps looking for VH-CIZ. 

The latter one I am beginning to get a feel for but the cost of even mounting a first survey search would be well beyond my means.

Very few people get the opportunity to research, search, find, document and recover those Missing In Action, and to see a project through to completion as in A9-217 was a very rewarding experience, not only for me but for the whole team that worked on the recovery, and of course their families.

Not a lot of people get to experience this sort of feeling of completeness of a job well done.

This by the way is done in conjunction with the authorities and not by me alone.

How many wrecks did you find until now?

This is a very difficult question to answer, due to the fact that I have found aircraft pieces scattered over the bottom - not knowing the type or country it's from.

And these were just pieces, not a complete aircraft. These have obviously blown up in the air, and have been scattered over a wide area.

There are also aircraft I have been looking for but did not find, where I then passed on all the info for others to find, which they have.

For the number of ship wrecks, I'd say four or five,  for smaller boats and barges and such, i haven't even bothered to count there's been so many... 

In one days searching for VH-CIJ we found 15 barges, sunken vessels of all types and over a period of a month while looking for VH-CIJ we found to many to count.

For aircraft wrecks alone, I would have to say 20 to 25 complete aircraft - not counting all the scattered wreckage and debris I have come across - that I could identify as Japanese or Australian: Not all of these wrecks had MIAs onboard.

Most aircraft that ditched in the water, the crews have swam away from. 

They are the lucky ones.

The aircraft in the water usually made a reasonably ditching, so the aircraft is in rather good condition even if there were fatalities on board, like the B24 4123752 at Kawa Island (see 1 MIA still inside, one died of his injuries on the way back to Alotau but the rest of the crew survived.

The aircraft in the bush on the other hand usually went in at high speed, more or less obliterating the planes, and over the years the remains of the aircraft have been reclaimed by the forests, vandalization, animals etc so there is not a lot left.

I have found aircraft on land, in the bush, but I'm not really interested in these, and don't include them in my list of finds. 
I still have on my short list 15 aircraft to find in the water, most with remains and these are very easily findable however; It all comes down to time and money.

And having never been married to anything else than my boat and passion for diving, nor had children, I've been able to direct my surplus into finding wrecks instead.

What are you planning for the next few months? Any wrecks waiting to be located etc?

For the next three months I take off to find a plane in Buka, and then off to Lae to locate an A-20 that ditched with three crew belonging to the RAAF, one of these crewmembers received the Commonwealth's highest reward, the Victoria Cross, and there is still one crewmember MIA on this plane.

This plane is deep, at about 100 meters.

A28-3 a Boston from 22 Squadron is of particular interest to me as my father went to school at Melbourne Grammar with Bill Newton, VC.

How important is it in your opinion to highlight the role of historical warplanes resting on the seabed?

Very important for future generations, to be documented, if not fully, as I have limited resources.

However in the future, someone might like to step up and fully document these aircraft in the form of a documentary or similar.

But for future generations, I think it's a must for them to know what happened, and the relatives of those MIAs know the last resting place of their loved ones.

Could you single out the wreck that made you feel proud of?

A9-217, an Australian Beaufort, which crashed at night off a island in a godforsaken part of New Guinea and all were killed. (see

It was only through my determination and experience in hounding the authorities to do a second recovery that we found all four crewmembers in their entirety.

This, I think, was my most memorable recovery, although I failed to document it properly in the form of pictures, I did write up the report on the recovery and the history of it's last flight.

I should point out, that most - if not all - of the photos on my Facebook-page were taken by other people than me, as I've never been much of an underwater photographer and have always had more than enough to do running my vessel and operating my sonar, in addition to all the research that goes into this type of work.

As such, the photos I've submitted should be credited to the respective photographers, and not myself.

Check more here