Greeks In Foreign Cockpits
For some who have previously commented that this column (book reviews) does not show enough Hellenic aviation (and military) books there is a set of answers. The main reason, of course, for which the Greek books do not find their way to our pages is that ... there is simply not enough. The Greek bibliography (and we refer to its entire range of aviation, military, naval, space-based versions of all categories) is quite small in numbers and of course the situation has not improved in recent years. Why this happens has many explanations, but the main one is the limited Greek target audience, who makes any such effort a high-risk venture. From the already small number of books each year, few of them are worthy of reason and reference, and unfortunately we do not have so many pages or a willingness to deal with books that we think we would not read, and of course we will not recommend to our readers, respecting the trust you have been showing us all these years. In a recent, for example, publication of a Royal Hellenic Air Force Squadron during WW2, we could write many pages about the amount of historical inaccuracies we pointed out, but in order to formulate such a negative position we prefer to do something more constructive and to highlight them at some point through our future articles. This long prologue was necessary to say that this huge and heavy volume with 435 photos, 48 colored profiles, 11 digital paintings, 4 oil paintings by foreign artists, 18 squadron emblems and much more is the opposite of the above. This volume is a first indication of the work of the three writers; a real task of gathering records mainly from abroad, composed with much care and great diligence to an excellent set that deserves all praise. Of course our congratulations begin from the fact that in the very difficult times that we have been through, the authors took a great risk. First of all, it is the book subject that intrigues the reader, as the history of such a large number of Greek pilots who fought with the allied air forces remains essentially unknown, except for very few exceptions. This book presents for the first time in the Greek bibliography the action of ten pilots who honored not only the homeland in which they were born and raised, but also the homeland of their ancestors, having full consciousness of their Greek heritage. The occupation of Greece by the Axis forces during the WWII transferred the fight outside the Greek territory, mainly with the naval ships fleeing the Middle East and the formation of three squadrons of the exiled Royal Hellenic Air Force, two of them with fighters and one with medium bombers operating across the Mediterranean, Libya, Italy, Yugoslavia and of course over occupied Greece. Their brilliant history, though it does not published as it should, is well known even outside the circle of Aviation enthusiasts and those involved in history subjects in general. At the same time, however, when the Greeks fought against Nazism and fascism under the exile Greek flag, hundreds of other Greeks and Greek parentage people battled into allied armies. Several of them were pilots who flew with the RAF, the USAAF and the US Navy, but this activity, in fact, another ‘Hellenic Air Force’ remains practically unknown, and the forgetfulness of time is quickly eradicated any traces remain. The most famous of them is Spiros 'Steve' Pisanos, an ace with 10 confirmed crashes, but an exception to the aforementioned rule, because his biography, which is translated into Greek recently, has prompted him a bit more. From that point of view, this book is an ark of memory for the evidence of 10 Greek parentage aviators of that period. The list outside of Pisanos includes, Frank 'Free Greek' Zavakos, Nicholas Sintetos, Robert 'Smoky' Vrilakas, Arthur ‘Elmer’ Sugas, Harry' Greek 'Coronios, Philip Savides, Atlee ‘Mad Pappy’ Manthos, John Lolos and Spiros Karavedas. The report for everyone is a complete narrative that not only includes their military career, but also extends to the family their history. Second generation Greek Americans, grew up and raised in America during the interwar period and through their history, we are able to learn the micro history of Greek migration and life in the ‘New World’ in those very difficult years. Very interesting are the reports that exist about how these Greek children eventually found themselves flying under foreign cockpits as evidenced by calendars, letters and memoirs contained to forget their origins. Of course, the list is not complete, as the authors considered that in the long and painful process to write this volume enough data had been collected to record their story. The author’s research continues, because in the book, the first volume is highlighted and the ambition is for the list to become fuller so that all these heroes can be recorded and take the place they deserve in Modern Greek history.