Levant Schooner Flotilla

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Caique sailed by the Levant Schooner Flotilla, World War II.

The Levant Schooner Flotilla was an allied naval organization during World War II that facilitated covert and irregular military operations in the Aegean Sea from 1942–1945. It was primarily organized by the British Royal Navy and consisted of a series of commandeered caïques, or local schooners, manned by British sailors, special forces, and Greek volunteers.

World War II in the Aegean[edit]

The Levant Schooner Flotilla (LSF) was formed by the Royal Navy from requisitioned or abandoned caïques to supplement its handful of motor and high-speed launches opposing German forces in the Nazi-occupied Aegean Sea.[1] The LSF was led by Lt. Cmdr. Adrian C. C. Seligman,[1] who had circumnavigated the globe in a windjammer before the war broke out.[2] The Flotilla numbered about 10 ships in September 1943,[3] though at various points it was able to field only a handful.[4] Caïques typically had 5–6 man crews and were heavily armed with 20mm cannons, Browning machine guns and Vickers aircraft machine guns.[5] The caïques often operated under cover of darkness, landing or picking up commandos, rescuing partisans, and intercepting or raiding small German forces. Many of the ships were powered by Matilda tank engines and used long-range radios taken from Kittyhawk (P-40) fighter aircraft.[6]

The LSF facilitated raids by the British Long Range Desert Group against German forces on the Islands of Kithnos and Levitha during the Dodecanese Campaign in the autumn of 1943,[1] and was heavily involved in fighting over Leros shortly thereafter.[4] Among those who served in the LSF are Roger Durnford and British scholar Geoffrey Kirk.

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  1. ^ a b c P.C. Smith, "War in the Aegean," Stackpole Books 2008.
  2. ^ Allen, H. S. "Classical Spies: American Archaeologists with the OSS in World War II Greece," University of Michigan Press, 2011.
  3. ^ Holland, J., "The Aegean Mission: Allied Operations in the Dodecanese, 1943 (Contributions in Military Studies)" Greenwood Press, 1988.
  4. ^ a b Koburger, C. "Wine-Dark, Blood Red Sea: Naval Warfare in the Aegean, 1941–1946," Praeger, 1999.
  5. ^ Allied Special Forces History: Levant Schooner Flotilla Archived 7 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ British Small Boat Operations in World War 2 Archived 22 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine