The end of a long and illustrious career:1947-49
(source: G. Mezeviris Vice- Admiral R.H.N.,
"Four decades in the Service of the R.H.N", Athens 1971)
“…During his long years of service in the R.H.N., in the most difficult moments, war or in peace, on every occasion he executed his duty with the exemplary conscientiousness that characterizes him and with superior understanding of the seriousness of the moment…”
The Navy G. Vassiliades on the retirement of
Gregory Mezeviris narrates:
“In May 1947 I was promoted to Vice-Admiral and at my new rank I retained the duties of Chief of the General Staff of the Navy (G.S.N.) untill September. In September 1947 the new Minister of the Navy A.Sakellariou, Chief of the G.S.N. during the War period in Greece, informed me that I was going to assume the duties of Inspector General of the Navy. This position was reinstated and according to pre-war tradition was taken over by the most senior officer of the Corps. With the new Law the position of Admiral Chief was abolished and Rear-Admiral P.Antonopoulos was destined for the position of Chief of the G.S.N., rather than his senior A. Leontopoulos who had briefly replaced me a year ago [see: The Navy during the Civil War].
This prospect did not please me. The position of the Chief of the G.S.N. is one of action, while the duties of Inspector General are loosely defined; it’s a position of honor destined to those that after a long career have reached the top of the hierarchy and is the last before their retirement. I consider however that is the right of the Minister of the Navy and the Government to choose the Chief of the G.S.N. that they trust, as it is the only way to secure a smooth cooperation for sake of the Navy. I therefore didn’t express any objection and as member of the Supreme Naval Committee I voted for the officer who had been chosen and who had many professional qualifications. At the meeting where these changes were decided, the Minister of the Navy and the Chiefs of the British and American Naval Missions praised the way I executed my duties as Chief of the General Staff of the Navy.
Giving substance to an honorific position
Since I was offered the position of the Inspector General, the only way to make this assignment more desirable was to give substance to my new duties. I was given a staff of senior officers from all branches and I benefited from the backing of the Minister who was giving special importance to my new mission.
I started my inspections at the facilities of the Naval Command of Western Greece and her ships operating in the Gulf of Corinth that had been very intensively operating against the guerilla for the past few months. Next, I inspected the facilities of the Naval Command of Corfu where I even visited observation posts perched on steep mountaintops. The observation post crews were very surprised to see an Admiral climbing up to their positions. I finally inspected in detail all the Services of the Navy and arranged so that each Service was to be inspected at least once a year.
These inspections were done in a much more extensive way than previously. I was inspecting the personnel, listening to their complaints, inspecting in detail any kind of installation and equipment maintenance and the bookkeeping. I also ordered the execution of general maneuvers. In addition, I was reviewing the general organization of the Services and making recommendations for the improvement of their operating procedures. After each inspection a long detailed report was prepared and submitted to the minister with copies to the interested parties, their supervisors and to all Central Services. In these reports the observed deficiencies were mentioned, it was determined if they were due to an inefficiency of the audited unit, or to the absence of measures that should have been taken by the Central Command Services. At the same time the reports stressed whatever deserved congratulations, which were more frequent than the shortcomings. For that reason, despite the fact that this kind of inspection is a big nuisance for the Services, many Heads of Services were asking me to speed up their own inspection. They were taking advantage of the opportunity to show the results of their actions, the progress made and express at the same time their complaints for requests that the Central Command had not satisfied, as they knew that the Minister was carefully studying my reports. The Minister had demanded by circular that those responsible for taking action, after careful study of my reports, submit their action plan with the measures to be taken in order to apply without delay my proposals. I don’t know whether the Ministers that took office during my second year of service as Inspector General had been carefully studying my reports, but the naval Services had made it a practice to take them seriously into account.
March,1949 Vice-Admiral Mezeviris (2nd from left) visiting Admiral Forrest P. Sherman US Navy (middle) on board his 6th fleet flagship "USS ALBANY"
In parallel with the inspection mission, the Minister had assigned me the chairmanship of multimember Committees in which also participated officers of the foreign Missions, for studying general issues concerning the organization of the naval services. Among other matters, I was assigned the task to prepare a report aiming at the limitation of the number and the utilization of cars. I indicated measures that would lead to serious savings and would end the lack of restraint, while securing the necessary means of transport for the smooth functioning of the services and the status of superior officers. The Minister absolutely agreed with the proposed measures and tried to implement them progressively. He met such strong reactions that he let them fall into disuse. It was indeed very difficult to implement such measures, if they were not generally applied to all the armed forces and the civil services.
I thus succeeded having a serious and interesting occupation, while holding a position considered as lacking action.
1947-49 Vice-Admiral Mezeviris Inspector General of the R.H.N.
The end of career in the Royal Hellenic Navy
My career in the Navy ended in September 1949. According to a transitional disposition in a new Law that was applied the next day of its publication in the Government Gazette, the War Council would decide whether officers that had completed 6 years in the rank of Admiral would remain until completing the regular limit of 8 years, or would retire. When, at the last moment, this transitional was added to the Law, the political chiefs and members of the Government that participated in the War Council had already taken their decision. It would have been much more honest if instead of this evaluation “procedure”, the Law had imposed my retirement.
The War Council very favorably praised my leadership and concluded with the decision of my retirement in order “to allow the career evolution of younger officers”. The Minister of the Navy G. Vassiliades, empowered by the War Council, issued the following circular-order read in review in all Services:
KINGDOM OF GREECE
MINISTRY OF THE NAVY
Athens, September 3, 1949
1. I express my total gratitude to retired Vice-Admiral G. Mezeviris for the exceptional services he offered for forty-three years to the Royal Navy in the most honest, exemplary and honorable way.
2. During his long years of service in the R.H.N., in the most difficult moments, war or in peace, on every occasion he executed his duty with the exemplary conscientiousness that characterizes him and with superior understanding of the seriousness of the moment.
3. Personally his close collaborators and myself are saddened, because the natural and fatal
evolution of time deprives us of an excellent collaborator who leaves the R.H.N. to offer the
opportunity to the younger to pursue the many-century tradition of our Navy, by following the
precious examples and the patriotism of Vice-Admiral Mezeviris.
4. The present to be read in review
In reply to my farewell message to the Chiefs of the naval Services, I received many replies that especially touched me and that I keep as the most precious souvenir of my career. Here are some these messages:
September 1949, Vice-Admiral (retired) Gr.Mezeviris passes-over command
From: ADPAD (Captain J. Toumbas)
K.Y.N. OFFICE OF THE MINISTER GERERAL SHIPS AND SERVICES ADPAD.
With emotion I read your signal 021035/5. I wish to let you know that I will always remember the days when I had the honor to serve under your orders and especially the hard days of APRIL 1941 when with your example you vivified us all and had an important impact on the direction of Honor and Duty that our Fleet followed. Please allow me to submit my personal warmest wishes and those of the men serving under my orders for your personal happiness.
God be with you Admiral.
K.Y.N. Office of the Minister
Deeply moved I received your farewell message. Myself and the officers serving under my orders are deeply moved because by your departure the Navy is losing a kind colleague and leader, who in the last War proved worthy of the many-centuries traditions of the R.H.N.
We wish the best luck.
From: A.B.N. (Rear- Admiral E. Flokas)
Your wishes find full effect on Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Sailors of the Services of the Naval Base; especially because they are coming from a Chief whose career has been a continuous effort for the glory and the progress of our Navy.
I left the Navy after forty-three years of continuous service and after having reached the top officer rank, a year and half earlier from the natural end of my career. With the instability that prevails in the career of our officers, very few were those that had been equally favored by luck.
I hope that our young officers will meet fewer obstacles in their career. I would have gladly start again my career, even under the same conditions and in spite all the bitterness I tasted. The Navy is a beautiful arm and it’s up to its personnel to render it even more beautiful, by abstaining from some unreasonable and premature ambitions.”