During World War II, three of the Royal Air Force's Top Aces were Greeks. John Plagis, Spiros Pisanos (who later joined the USAAF) and Vassilios Vassiliadis were credited with shooting down a combined total of thirty-six enemy aircraft. They flew one of the finest fighters of the Second World War, the legendary Spitfire. Vassiliadis died heroically during a strafing attack described below, Plagis survived the war only to tragically commit suicide years later. Pisanos, the subject of a previous post on MGO is alive and well, writing his memoirs at his home in the United States. The following article excerpts are from a site called "Aces of World War II." The articles were written by John Mansolas and Angelo Dalassenos of the Greek magazines 'Military History', 'Aviation History' & 'History Subjects.'
"His Spitfire MkVb “GN-K” AB346, which left the deck of the aircraft carrier 'Eagle' on March 6th 1942 - four days before Plagis's 23rd birthday - was one of the first 15 aircraft of that type delivered to the island. During the next two months he would score the bulk of his victories in the savage dogfights raging over Malta. He was awarded the DFC, following a transfer to another Malta Squadron, No 185. He only had enough time to score one more victory before being evacuated to England for rest and recuperation due to a total mental and physical breakdown.
He resumed operational duties in September 1943, leading a flight in No 64 Squadron, this time in Coltishall, S. England. Escorting bombers and flying armed recon patrols over occupied Europe he succeeded in shooting down an Me-109 and a FW-190 from the cockpit of his Spitfire V “SH-B” BL734. In July 1944 he commanded No 126 Squadron in his Spitfire IX “5J-K” ML214, with which he scored four more victories during July and August. In September, during the ill-fated Operation “Market-Garden” he was shot down by flak over Arnhem. He crashed his Spitfire at high speed, but survived with only minor injuries."
"On 25 March 1945 he was leading four Tempests in an attack 30 km behind enemy lines against a truck convoy situated in the midst of an area well-known for its lethal defending flak, the Bocholt woods. No sooner had the section begun its attack than his No 2 just exploded in mid-air. Nos 3 and 4 refused to follow the Greek ace in such a suicidal attack, so “Vass” decided to go in all on his own, regardless of the odds. He made a perfect firing pass through a heavy and accurate flak barrage emerging out of it scot-free. Looking back to check the effects of his attack he realized he could have done better with one more strafing pass. His two other comrades refused again to follow his self-sacrificing example despite his orders, so he went in, alone once more, despite their desperate warnings. Just like his No 2 a minute ago, his Tempest, coded “JF-A" EJ755, was blown to smithereens just as he was emerging out of the flak barrage."
May their memories be eternal.