Petros Voulgaris

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Petros Voulgaris
136th Prime Minister of Greece
In office
9 April 1945 – 17 October 1945
Monarch George II
Preceded by Nikolaos Plastiras
Succeeded by Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens
Personal details
Born 13 September 1884
Hydra, Greece
Died 26 November 1957
Athens
Nationality Greek
Military service
Allegiance Greece Kingdom of Greece
Service/branch Royal Hellenic Navy
Years of service 1903–1921, 1922-1925, 1926-1945
Rank Rear Admiral
Battles/wars Naval Battle of Elli, Balkan Wars, Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, World War II

Petros Voulgaris (Greek: Πέτρος Βούλγαρης, 13 September 1884 – 26 November 1957) was a Greek admiral who served briefly as Prime Minister of Greece in 1945.

Life[edit]

Early career[edit]

He was born in the island of Hydra to George Voulgaris and Archonto Vatsaxi. After the death of his father in 1885, his family settled in Athens, with his mother's relatives. After finishing school, he entered the Hellenic Naval Academy in 1899, and was commissioned as Ensign in 1903. In 1908–1910 he was detached for training abroad, and he briefly served aboard a French Navy vessel in 1912. He took part in the Balkan Wars aboard the destroyer Panthir, including the Naval Battle of Elli. In 1915–1916 he served as adjutant to the Navy Minister, Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis. When the Movement of National Defence broke out in Thessalonica in 1916, the pro-Venizelist Voulgaris, like his mentor and fellow Hydriot Kountouriotis, left Athens and joined the revolutionary government. From 1916 to 1919 he commanded the destroyer Velos, participating in the Allied naval operations in the Aegean during World War I, the 1919 Allied Expedition to the Ukraine, and the opening phase of the Asia Minor Campaign. He subsequently served as head of the private office of the Navy Minister Athanasios N. Miaoulis. Following the anti-Venizelist electoral victory in November 1920, he was suspended March 1921.

Following the collapse of the Asia Minor front and the revolt by the Army, he was recalled to active service, and appointed captain of the destroyer Leon. In 1923 he became commander of the Faliro Naval Aviation Base, and he subsequently was appointed as captain of the Panthir. Following the so-called "Navy Strike" of June 1924, he resigned from the Navy but was recommissioned two months later. He resigned again a year later, following the coup d'état of General Theodoros Pangalos. Following Pangalos' overthrow in August 1926, he re-joined the service, with the rank of Captain, and became Superior Commander of the Naval Aviation, a position he held until 1930. WHen the Air Ministry was established in the same year, he became Director of the Air Force. In 1931, he was appointed commander of the Salamis Naval Base, and in 1931–1934 he served as Superior Commander of the Submarines. In 1934, he was placed as military attaché to Ankara and Belgrade, based at Istanbul. It was there that the unsuccessful Venizelist coup attempt of March 1935 found him. Being a committed Venizelist, he was suspended and then dismissed by the subsequent purges of the Armed Forces. In November 1935 however, with the return of the monarchy and a partial pardon, he was listed as placed in reserve, with the rank of Rear Admiral of the Reserve.

World War II and aftermath[edit]

For the next few years, he worked in the private sector, eventually joining the Bodosakis-Athanasiadis group. He moved to Egypt before the German invasion of Greece in April 1941. In May 1943, the Greek government in exile recalled him to service, alongside many other officers who had been expelled in 1935, and gave him the post of Aviation Minister. When the Navy mutiny broke out in April 1944, Voulgaris replaced Rear Admiral Konstantinos Alexandris as Chief of the Fleet. From this position he supervised the forced capture of the ships by officer detachments. In October 1944, he led the fleet back to Greece, and assumed the duties of Chief of the Navy General Staff.

The political situation in Greece was extremely unstable: following month-long clashes between government and British forces and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Front, the Treaty of Varkiza had resulted in the latter's disarmament. However the situation remained explosive. The moderate government of Nikolaos Plastiras resigned under British pressure on 9 April 1945, and the Regent, Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens, appointed Voulgaris to head an interim government. Voulgaris also held several other ministries during his two cabinets (the second formed on 11 July), including those of Army, Navy and Air Force, and even, briefly, the Foreign Ministry. Unable to break the political deadlock, Voulgaris resigned his naval commission on 8 October 1945, and 9 days later, also from the post of Prime Minister.

On 1 July 1947, in recognition of his role in suppressing the Navy Mutiny, he was awarded the highest Greek decoration for valour, the Commander's Cross of the Cross of Valour.

He died in the Athens Naval Hospital in 1957 of heart failure and was buried in the First Cemetery of Athens.

Sources[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nikolaos Plastiras
Prime Minister of Greece
April–October 1945
Succeeded by
Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens
Military offices
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Charalambos Delagrammatikas
until German Occupation
Chief of the Navy General Staff
1944–1945
Succeeded by
Rear Admiral Grigorios Mezeviris