Battery Lago



Mount Appetici, altitude 181m

  • Artillery Second Lieutenant Spagnolo Corrado (Vice Commander)

It was equipped with 4 C guns of 120mm/45.

It was an anti-surface artillery.


Photos by Frantsesko DiPierro

Lago Artillery!! Pytiki. IV.120/45 A unique and powerful artillery... Built in 1926, it is located on the complex summit of the 181-meter high Pytikio hill. It is situated across from the Castle of the Knights. A unique defensive fortress with several artillery batteries and underground tunnels. On November 12th, the Lago artillery suffered its first strong attack by the Amphibious Raiders "Brantdenburger". Three boats landed men at Aspri Pounta. At the point where it could not be hit by the coastal weapons of the artillery... The raiders, climbing like wild goats, captured the first two cannons... No. 4 and then No. 3. The first fierce battles with human casualties took place there. Despite the strong resistance of Italian Lieutenant Colonel K. Spaniolas, the situation temporarily stabilized with the reinforcement of an English platoon. On the same day, at 13:30, the first paratroopers made their appearance on the Ridge. The Germans seemed determined to divide the island in two at all costs. The Green Devils, after fierce body-to-body battles, managed to reach the Pytiki hill and trap the men defending the Lago artillery in the trenches. On November 14th, at 02:00, the artillery suffered a fierce attack from the German cannons of the ships "Belvoir" and "Eco". The losses were tremendous... In the battle, Lieutenant Colonel Frenz was killed, as well as the officers around him. It is reported that out of the two platoons of the English, only one officer and seventy soldiers survived. This is in a few words the Battle of Pythikio! A battle with significant human losses... a battle that highlighted heroes in the face of Nazi brutality! Italians and English defended the hill of Pythikio with their lives, with one purpose. They wanted to stop the invasion of German troops in the Dodecanese. Today, the Lago artillery, remote and silent, mourns its victims! It mourns all those who fell dead on the hill of Pythikio. They were sailors, they were soldiers, they were innocent children... they were heroes who gave their lives for us to be free today!
(P.S.)My grandfather also worked on the construction of this artillery as an engineer in 1926.

Frantsesko DiPierro
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Fortification of Leros

Among the islands of the Dodecanese, Leros, due to its geographical position in the eastern Mediterranean and its special morphology, was chosen for the creation of Italy's main air and naval base in the Dodecanese.

The purpose was purely strategic: the fortification of Leros and the creation of a large military base ensured the Italians control of an area of ​​vital interest to the Great Powers. This Base, according to the planning, would have facilities for the Navy, the Air Force and the Army, as well as the necessary workshops of private companies manufacturing military equipment.

The main construction projects of the Italians in Leros, for the fortification and defense of the island, were carried out as early as 1923 and were completed at the end of the 1930s.

Among these are:

  • "Gianni Rossetti" Seaplane Base in the area of ​​Lepida 
  • Submarine Base in the adjacent area of ​​Aghios Georgios
  • New town of Portolago (nowadays Lakki), created in order to cover the housing needs created by the construction of the Aeronautical Base
  • Centro Radio Lero – the installation of the Italian telecommunications center in the area of ​​Aghios Nikolaos in Lakki
  • The headquarters of FAM - DICAT, the “FAM -  Fronte A Mare” - Coastal Defense Command and the “DICAT - Difesa Contraerea Territoriale” -  Anti-Aircraft Land Defense Command on Mount Patella, with the unique installation of the Aerophone and the Acoustic - Parabolic Wall

Along with the other defense installations of Leros, the fortification of the island with artillery began already in the mid-1920s, initially mainly for naval defense. Gradually, until the middle and mainly at the end of the 1930s, 103 guns of caliber from 76mm to 152mm were installed on almost all the heights of Leros, most of them from decommissioned battleships and cruisers of the Italian Navy from WW I, composing a network of 25 batteries, responsible for the defense of the island, both from the sea and from the air. Along with the construction of the gun emplacements, other military facilities were developed in each artillery barracks, such as material and ammunition storages, shelters, barracks and logistics buildings, as well as various other facilities. The defense network of Leros is considered a model of interwar fortification architecture (1918 – 1939).

Especially since 1936, when military zones were officially created on the island, fenced with barbed wire, the mountains and heights of Leros acquired a purely military character. The granting of compensation stops, since the cutting of the bushes was first prohibited by decree, and thus the fields were turned into forest land, and by extension they are considered the property of the Italian State. Thus, livestock breeders and farmers, losing their properties, are forced to resort to day labor, since there is indeed a lack of labor force, due to the excessive number of projects in progress. For the construction of the defense and public works of Leros, artisans are transferred from Italy, with a daily wage of 40-50 italian lire, while the Greeks receive 6-10 italian lire.

The outbreak of World War II led to the expansion and improvement, on a large scale, of military installations, but this was opposed to economic criteria and above all the lack of availability of means and the difficulties in maritime transportations. The serious shortcomings of the hasty Italian military preparation led to the dispersion of the scarce available means in many areas, all of them of high importance and therefore did not allow the care imposed on any of them.

Thus, in the Dodecanese, although the level of preparation could be described as satisfactory, in relation to infrastructure and logistics facilities, the field of armaments, and especially that of Artillery, lagged far behind, since the Dodecanese had been sent almost exclusively old-style and dissimilar weapons caliber, which did not allow the organization of defense to develop to a sufficient and satisfactory degree, which will have a huge impact on the events of September - November 1943.

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