Paul Markides

During WWII, the Greek community of Rhodesia contributed with its youth to the struggle for freedom. Between them the greatest Greek ace, John Plagis, Panicos Theodosiou, and many more young people. Among the young pilots who were trained in Rhodesia in early 1941, was the 20-year-old Sergeant Paul Markides, a native of Queensdale, Bulawayo. His parents were George Paul Markides from Cyprus and Jane Josephine. Markides and Theodosiou already knew each other very well, as the father of the first and the mother of the latter were brother and sister. After his advanced training in Harvards in July 1941, he was ordered for training in multi-engine airplanes, in No.23 SFTS equipped with Oxfords, flying from Heany Air Station, near Bulawayo. This School was founded at that time under the command of Group Captain French. It is the same School, where the Greek volunteers of the Royal Hellenic Air Force (RHAF) were sent in the summer of 1942, known as the Greek School of Twin-Engine Airplanes. Graduating as a multi-engined airplane pilot in August 1941, Sergeant Markides transferred to...


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Basil O. Petrides

Basil’s father was Basilius Petrides who had Greek Ancestry (his relatives originated from the Island of Symi) and was educated at Dulwich College in England, the same school that Basil attended. He was a businessman who worked in Nicosia, Cyprus before retiring to run a small holding in East Sussex, England. Basil Petrides initially joined the RAF as a Sgt and served a tour of duty with No.50 Squadron, at RAF Waddington, as a Wireless Operator – Airplane Gunner (WoAG) in Handley Page HP.52 Hampden twin-engine bombers. He flew his first mission, a mine-dropping mission known as “Gardening” in RAF slang, during the night between 18/19 May 1941, joining P/O Abbot's crew manning the AD.852. He flew his second operational sortie 13 days later, on 2/3 June, targeting Dusseldorf. The bomber reached its target and dropped the bombs from 13,000 ft with poor visibility. The flak was heavy and accurate, and shrapnel destroyed the center panel of the pilot’s windscreen. Petrides and the rest of the crew were lucky this time and headed for their base, landing almost 7 hours after their takeoff. Basil flew 17 more missions till the end of August, flying with various bombers and occasionally with different crews. On 27 August 1941 Basil and his crew were scheduled for a bombing mission, flying the Hampden X.2991 but they crashed on take-off, however without anyone injured. It was a close call considering that the bomber was fully armed with bombs. Meanwhile, the No.50 Squadron had already moved to Swinderby on the 19th of July 1941. September was going to be quite intense for Basil.  The month began with a Gardening mission during the night between 6/7 September 1941 and one day later he flew a bombing sortie against Kassel, attached to P/O Smith's crew. Despite excellent weather conditions with no clouds, good visibility, and a bright moon, the primary target ...


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Zaharias Dimitris Spendos

Ο Σπένδος Δημήτριος-Ζαχαρίας γεννήθηκε στην Αθήνα το 1905. Σε σχέση με την ακριβή ημερομηνία γεννήσεως υπάρχει αναντιστοιχία μεταξύ των επισήμων εγγράφων που έχει στην κατοχή της η οικογένειά του. Σύμφωνα με το Φύλλο Μητρώου της Ελληνικής Βασιλικής Αεροπορίας (ΕΒΑ) ως ημερομηνία αναφέρεται η 1η Ιανουαρίου 1905 ενώ σύμφωνα με το φύλλο κρατουμένου στο στρατόπεδο αιχμαλώτων στο οποίο κρατείτο αναφέρεται η 23η Απριλίου 1905, η οποία μάλλον είναι και η πραγματική. Ο πατέρας του, ο Γεώργιος Σπένδος, ήταν αξιωματικός της Χωροφυλακής. Έφτασε στο βαθμό του Αντισυνταγματάρχη και είχε διατελέσει Διοικητής Χωροφυλακής στα Επτάνησα, με έδρα την Κέρκυρα. Πιθανή καταγωγή του πατέρα ήταν από το Θέρμο Αιτωλοακαρνανίας, όπου υπάρχουν ακόμα οικογένειες με αυτό το όνομα, ενώ μητέρα του, η Ζωή Δελμούζου καταγόταν από την Άμφισσα. Ο Ζαχαρίας είχε δύο αδελφές που απεβίωσαν νωρίς: την Αθανασία (1900-1940), την Ευθυμία (1902-1919) και έναν αδελφό, τον Νικόλαο Σπένδο (1897-1972). Ο αδελφός του είχε εισέλθει στην Σχολή Ευελπίδων το 1915, και μετά από δυόμισι έτη εκπαίδευσης εστάλη ως Ανθυπολοχαγός με το εκστρατευτικό σώμα στην Ουκρανία και μετά στη Μικρά Ασία. Όντας έμπειρος στρατιωτικός, ο Νικόλαος Σπένδος συμμετείχε και στον Β’ Π.Π, ως Διοικητής του 14ου Συντάγματος της 5ης Μεραρχίας Κρητών, στη Μάχη της Τρεμπεσίνας. Το πατρικό τους σπίτι βρισκόταν στην οδό Αλίτσης 6 στην Αθήνα. Ο Ζαχαρίας, τελειώνοντας το σχολείο, επέλεξε να φοιτήσει στη νέα τότε σχολή ασυρματιστών της Πανελληνίου Ενώσεως Ραδιοτηλεγραφητών Ραδιοηλεκτρονικών του Εμπορικού Ναυτικού, που έδρευε επί της Φίλωνος 94 στον Πειραιά. Αποφοίτησε στις 21 Οκτωβρίου 1924 με την ειδικότητα του Ραδιοτηλεγραφητή, όπως καλούνταν τότε οι Ασυρματιστές, και στην ηλικία των 19 χρονών, μπάρκαρε στα πλοία. Στις 5 Οκτωβρίου 1925 κατετάγη στο Πολεμικό Ναυτικό και υπηρέτησε μέχρι τις 5 Φεβρουαρίου 1927 με ειδικότητα Διόπου Tηλεφωνητή. Από την απόλυσή του και μετά, μπάρκαρε με διάφορα πλοία μέχρι την 25η Ιανουαρίου του 1932, οπότε και προσελήφθη ως ημερομίσθιος ραδιοτηλεφωνητής στην Μετεωρολογική Υπηρεσία. Έμεινε σε αυτή τη θέση μέχρι την 1η Μαΐου 1935 και μετά από τρίχρονη απουσία επέστρεψε στην ίδια θέση από τις 9 Μαΐου 1938, έως την 27η Ιανουαρίου 1940. Εξαιτίας του πολέμου, κατετάγη στην ΕΒΑ ως Αρχισμηνίας Ραδιοτηλεφωνητής Εδάφους (με Α.Μ.Α.3603), δεδομένης της πολύχρονης εμπειρίας του στον τομέα αυτό, και παρά το γεγονός ότι ήταν ναυτικός και είχε ήδη υπηρετήσει στο Ελληνικό Βασιλικό Πολεμικό Ναυτικό.


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Greek Version


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Charilaos Carvellis

Charilaos Karvelis was born in Egypt in Cairo on April 6, 1923, and his parents, Nestor and Kallirroe came from Lemnos. He studied at the Frères des écoles Chrétiennes in Cairo. During World War II he joined the Royal Hellenic Air Force (RHAF) which operated in the Middle East under the umbrella of the RAF (Royal Air Force). It was initially presented at the RHAF training center in Gaza on August 13, 1942, which was the gathering point for both airmen fleeing Greece and diaspora Greeks who wanted to join the air force. He remained there until February 10, 1943, and after his basic military training, he was selected for pilot training. The initial reception of cadet pilots took place at Hillside Camp, later called Cranborne, in Southern Rhodesia where the Initial Training Wing (ITW) training course usually lasted 6 weeks. The young Greek Egyptian was presented on February 23, 1943, and remained there until July 9, 1943. The next day he was transferred to Mount Hampden for his initial flight training at No. 28 EFTS (Elementary Flight School) with DH.82 Tiger Moth where it would be decided if he was fit to become a pilot. His first flight took place on July 12, 1943, with instructor F/O Michopoulos (RHAF) on DH.82A 8108.  At this school, the Greek cadets had instructors from both the RHAF and RAF, but Michopoulos had taken over Karvelis' guidance. After thirteen hours and thirty minutes and 22 sorties, Charilaos flew his first solo on August 4 with DH.82A 8108, preceded two days earlier by the pre-solo evaluation by Squadron Leader Flett, with DH.82A 7670. After 84 hours and 20 minutes of flying to his credit, ...

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RAF, DH.82A Tiger Moth, 680 - 12, No 28 EFTS, Rhodesian Air Training Group, RAF Mount Hampden, May 1942
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Richard Stockton Jannopoulo

Richard Stockton Jannopoulo was born to John Constantine Jannopoulo (19/1/1869-14/5/1932) and Berenice Stockton (1872-1948), on October 22, 1896. His father, a Greek, potentially born in Smyrna or Greece (it is also mentioned that the Jannopoulo family was exiled from Russia) and emigrated to St. Louis, under unknown circumstances, was the manager and eventually owner of the Delmar Garden Amusement Park, Imperial Theater, and Suburban Gardens Amusement Park, with guidance, perhaps, from his influential relative, Demetrius Jannopoulo, the Greek Consul in St. Louis. As president of Delmar Garden, J.C. Jannopoulo initiated significant enhancements, acquiring 35 acres in 1909. Operating the park until its closure around 1919, he later filed a plan in 1920 for the subdivision, leading to the rapid development of Delmar Garden with over 85 buildings by 1924. His mother's heritage was also a great one. Her linage goes back to Sir John Stockton who was the Lord Mayor of London in 1740 and through him to Richard Stockton who was knighted on the field by King Edward IV in 1470 and was afterward elected to the high honor of Master of the Mercer’s Company, the oldest and most exclusive association of the kind in London. The American family branch settled in New Jersey and members of it were prominent in the history of the Revolution. But from her maternal side, two of her ancestors were colonial governors of Virginia. At the tender age of three, Richard Jannopoulo garnered public attention by clinching the title of the "Prettiest Boy Baby" at Saratoga in 1899, a notable feat during the family's summer vacation. Intriguingly, it was Richard's nurse, Aunt Nellie, who accompanied him to the competition, a departure from the conventional parental attendance. The event and its outcome remained a noteworthy feature in newspapers for an extended period. Between 1910 and...

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Panico "Theo" Theodosiou

Countless fighter pilots from every Commonwealth and Dominion nation fought with the RAF during the war. Panico Theodosiou was born on 21 November 1919 in Limassol, Cyprus, into a deeply religious Greek Cypriot family. After Cyprus was officially declared a Crown Colony in the mid-1920s and the islanders became British subjects, the Theodosiou family emigrated to Southern Rhodesia. A week before Britain declared war on Germany, units of the Southern Rhodesian Air Unit were the first to answer the call to arms. Panico volunteered for service and received a commission as a signal officer, reporting to headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Later renamed the Southern Rhodesian Air Force, 1 Squadron at Nairobi was re-designated 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron in April 1940 when all SRAF personnel were absorbed into the RAF. Panic° successfully applied to fly and on 26 November 1940, Plt Off Theodosiou began flying training on DH Tiger Moths from the 25 Elementary Flying Training School at Belvedere, on the outskirts of Salisbury. He made his first solo flight after about ten hours of instruction. After completing EFTS, he took another leap - into marriage with his long-time girlfriend Denise. On 20 January 1941, he transferred to the 20 Service Flying Training School at Cranbourne, also near Salisbury, where he flew North American Harvards. There he received his wings on...

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Greek Version



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UK, Spitfire Mk IX, MJ279, FL Panico Hercules Theodosiou, No 237 (Rhodesian) Squadron, 1944

Louis "The Greek" Stamatakos

Born to Greek immigrants from Sparta, Lou was the second of four children. Lou was raised in Dayton, Ohio during the Great Depression. Much of his boyhood was spent getting into mischief and having fun with his older brother, Straty, and his many cousins who affectionately called him "Big Louie." Big Louie's strong arm and athleticism made him the obvious choice for quarterback and pitcher in both sandlot and organized games, and his humor, optimism, and relaxed and engaging ways made him a natural leader. When he was not playing sports, he was participating in Boy Scouts or making airplanes from balsa wood. In the 1930's, Dayton was a national aviation center and Lou daydreamed about flying the planes that roared over his neighborhood. In 1943, at 17, Lou volunteered for the Army Air Force. Lou survived 31 missions over Nazi Germany as a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress and recorded one "kill." During 2009 George Chalkiadopoulos, founding member of the Greeks in Foreign Cockpits team, exchanged emails with Louis Stamatakos who wrote about his story in a few words.

"I was raised in Dayton, Ohio during the Great Depression years by parents who both had immigrated from Krokea, south of Sparta. I had two brothers and a sister. During the war, all males aged 18 and over were eligible to be drafted into the military service. I was crazy about flying and, not surprisingly, enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a cadet (I wanted to be a pilot.  I entered the Air Corps as soon as I turned 18 and had basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi. Having all too many young men in the cadet program, the military sent me to Gunnery School in Las Vegas, Nevada where I learned gunnery with 50 caliber machine guns and aircraft turrets (found on bombers).  Later I was ...


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Greek Version



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USAAF, B-17G-90-BO, B 43-38662, 332 BS, 94 BG, March 1945
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Dan Valentyn Vizanty

The Royal Romanian Air Force (RRAF) during World War 2 boasted several remarkable fighter pilots of Greek heritage, a fact well-known to aviation history enthusiasts in Greece. Despite their origins tracing back to the Byzantine Empire centuries ago, their impressive achievements have often been overlooked, leading to the perception that they might have lost touch with their Greek identity. However, it's essential to note that this was not the rule, as some pilots proudly served both in the RRAF and even the Luftwaffe and were proud of their heritage too. Among the distinguished fighter pilots and aces of Romania, one individual stood out prominently – Dan Vizanty. His legacy has been celebrated, and his daughter, Ana Maria Vizanty, authored an article about his life and accomplishments. The piece was initially published in the September 2014 issue of Aviation History magazine and later republished on https://www.historynet.com/ on March 7, 2017. With the generous permissions granted by both the magazine and Ana Maria, we are delighted to republish the article on our website, ensuring that the Greek public can also appreciate and learn from his extraordinary exploits. Moreover, we had the immense honor of meeting Ana Maria Vizanty in Bucharest. During a special occasion on August 6, 2023, our esteemed member and aviation artist, George Moris, had the privilege of presenting her with a remarkable painting depicting one of her father's most intense dogfights, on June 10, 1944, against USAAF fighter-bombers (for a personal account of Vizanty during that dogfight click the following link: https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/dan-vizanty-in-his-own-words/). This particular aerial battle featured Dan Vizanty piloting the indigenous IAR-81C fighter against the renowned twin-engine American fighter, the P-38 Lightning. For a comprehensive account of this thrilling encounter, please refer to the article that follows. For more please refer to the Romanian bibliography, especially his biography "DAN VIZANTY DESTINUL UNUI PILOT DE VANATOARE" written by Daniel Focsa (Institutul European 2010, ISBN: 9789736116926. Now, without further delay, let us immerse ourselves in the captivating story as shared by Ana Maria Vizanty herself.

“My father, av. Dan Vizanty felt indeed an ancestral nostalgia for Greece. He said that he was also considering himself a Greek citizen due to his origin. I only know a little though about this aspect. He mentioned sometimes that his ancestors had come to Moldavia around the 17th or 18th century, and they had become perfectly integrated into their new country. Such that his family became a prominent one in the Moldavian area, just like many others who arrived in Romanian Lands in the Phanariot period as well. His name’s etymology, from Byzantion, also points out his Greek origin. Unfortunately..."

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Greek Version


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Frank Sarris

Frank J. Sarris was born on December 8, 1917, in Newport, Rhode Island, in the USA. His parents were Greek immigrants, John Sarris and Maria Lafiotis, both originally from the beautiful island of Skiathos. Frank's father first arrived in the USA between 1900 and 1905 to obtain American citizenship. To achieve this, John Sarris volunteered for the U.S. Army during World War I, serving in France with the 6th Engineer Regiment before returning injured to the USA. In November 1915, he married Maria in Providence, Rhode Island, and later, after moving to Newport, they had four children: Rose (1916), Frank (1917), Koula (1919), and George (1922). Frank enlisted in the Rhode Island National Guard and served three years before being discharged. He then reenlisted in the National Guard for another four months before joining the U.S. Navy on November 1, 1939, as a "Seaman Apprentice" with a prospect of six years of service. In January 1940, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4), where the impressive sight of aircraft taking off and landing on the flight deck profoundly influenced young Frank. Due to the needs of the war, the Navy's requirements were reduced from the required two years of college or university studies, allowing Frank to apply for pilot training. On January 5, 1943, he reported to Pre-Flight Training School at the Naval Air Station in Athens, Georgia. On October 12, 1943, after completing all tests, Frank was designated an "Aviation Pilot 1st Class" and a few days later...

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Greek Version


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John Stargu

Born in Clayton, N.J. on Feb. 29, 1924, John Stargu was the son of the late George and Despina (Moshovos) Stargu. According to his son, Nick, the original name was Stergiou but the authorities in Ellis Island wrote it as Stargu. George's heritage was from Mykonos Island while Despina was from Samos Island, both in the Aegean Archipelago. John graduated from Bloomfield High School and was employed by Danaher Ford and M&E Ford.  During WWII he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and trained as a Flight Engineer and Top turret gunner in the B-24 Liberators. He met his crew during their joint training in Pueblo Air Force Base in Colorado, in January 1943, his captain was Robert Blair. One interesting note is that the crew's tail gunner was named Vlachos, almost certainly another Greek American. When their training was over, they were assigned for service in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) specifically the 451st Bomb Group, based in Italy. The whole crew went to Herrington in Kansas in order to deliver a new bomber equipped with radar. According to Blair before their journey to Europe, the bombardier and three gunners were sent by boat while the rest of the crew along with two radar engineers and spare parts, however when they arrived in Italy, they never...


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Greek Version




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USAAF, B-24H-1-FO, 42-7697, The Stork, 720 BS, 450 BG, Manduria Airfield, Italy, 1944

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