Four years of relative calm

ADMIRAL MEZEVIRIS

Four years of relative calm

1928 -1932

(source: G. Mezeviris  Vice- Admiral R.H.N.,
"Four decades in the Service of the R.H.N", Athens 1971)

 

Gregory Mezeviris narrates:

 

“When in November 1928, I returned to Greece from France, I found a situation of relative calm that my country had not experienced for many years.  Since the time the royalists -one of the larger political parties- had been condemned to obscurity and Eleftherios Venizelos -leader of the other- was for many years not actively involved in the running of our nation, Greece had only experienced disorder, revolutions and coups d’états.  Our hopes for success of the ecumenical Government had also been disproved.  Facing this stalemate, our people called back to power with a large majority the statesman they had very largely condemned at the 1920 elections.

 

In the Navy in particular, the measures taken to heal the old open wound of the officers dismissed from the ranks, contributed significantly to the re-establishment of order. Officers that hadn’t been retired at their own request –mostly venizelists- were back to active duty and from the royalists some had been recalled to active service, while many benefits were given to those that had retired.

 

Under these conditions I could eventually revise my old decision to withdraw from the ranks of the Navy [see: “Greece becomes a Republic- Series of coups 1924-25” ]. Besides, when I returned to Greece I received a very warm welcome from the Minister of the Navy and the Director General of the Ministry, who both congratulated me for my services rendered abroad and allowed me to choose the position in which I wished to serve.

 

Out of the Navy at my own request

 

Stopping my career in the Navy had however become a fixed idea, after the disillusionments of the past twelve years.  I had not of course been subject to imprisonments, removals from service or long term exiles, as had some other officers.  These colleagues were at least considered having “suffered for political reasons” and were enjoying strong political protection when their political party was in power.  Those who had not suffered enough were not having such privileges.

 

In spite of the objections raised by the Central Administration and as a result of my insistence, my request to be placed in suspension was finally approved.  Officers in suspension had the right to exercise any profession that was not in conflict with an officer’s dignity.  I thus started looking for a job.  The most suitable for me were technical jobs of the specialty I had acquired [see: “From World War I to the Asia Minor disaster 1919-1921” ], but during that period Greece was behind as far as telecommunications were concerned and no such job was offered.  I thus accepted – on a trial basis – the position of executive consultant of a company dealing with trade of technical equipment.

 

Soon, I started realizing that for my new duties my technical knowledge was not enough and that qualities that were in conflict with my military character were also required.  As a result, after a three month trial period I submitted my resignation and after some more fruitless trials I came to the conclusion that I was not destined to work for the private sector. 

 

I started thus realizing that the only possible career for me was the naval one, since I was too young to live the awkward life of an unemployed retiree.  An invitation by the Director General of the Ministry of the Navy precipitated my decisions. The Director General informed me that a new law on “early retirement” was issued and that I had to decide either to return to active duty or take advantage of the provisions of this law and quit the Navy for good.  I opted to return to active service and never regretted it.

 

Back to active duty – Director of the 1st Direction of the General Staff of the Navy

 

When I was recalled to active duty, I initially took over as Director of the 1st Direction of the General Staff of the Navy (G.S.N.).  An important issue pending at that time was the drafting of law Decrees in application of a Law just voted that consisted of a kind of Organizational Chart of the Navy.  On that occasion I studied the introductory report of the law on ‘early retirement’ that was about to be applied.  According to this report, there was an excess of superior officers and in addition, for budgetary reasons, a reduction of positions was planned.  Important financial incentives and promotion by one rank were offered as incentives to officers willing to apply for early retirement.  Quite a few officers applied but not as many were necessary to reduce their number as required by this Law.  For such a case the Law provided that the remaining officers in excess would ex-officio retire by decision of the Navy.

 

Applying this last condition was tantamount to new purges.  I therefore decided to check whether the number of positions of this Law corresponded to the Navy’s needs.  I reached the conclusion that this was not the case and that soon the need would arise for new positions; this would entail the advancement of those that would remain but would be very unfair for those forced to retire.  I sent a detailed report of my findings to the Minister of the Navy, at the great discontent of those interested in the application to the letter of this condition of the Law.  I don’t know whether my report contributed, but the Law was finally applied only to those that had accepted voluntarily to retire and was modified so that the remaining could stay as supernumerary.  Besides, as I had foreseen, a short time later first the positions increased and then exceeded the initial ones.

 

I considered my position at the G.S.N. as provisional because, having taken the decision to continue my naval career, it was a must as soon as possible to serve on a ship, as I had been serving on shore for too long.  Therefore, when in October general mutations were taking place I applied for a position of Commander in one of the active ships of the Fleet.  Unfortunately my request was not satisfied. The positions for commander were few and sought after and those in line to take them over were advancing the argument that it was not fair as soon as I had returned to active duty to pass them over.  Besides, in spite of the prevailing political calm, there was still tendency to prefer for the sea commands those close to the ruling political party.  I thus had to wait for a more convenient time; this only happened two years later.

 

The basis of a naval constructions program was set during this period.  This program took its final shape with a 1931 Law.  The composition of the Fleet became mater of long discussions, a large part of the officers Corps opting for heavy ships, while the Prime Minister was in favor of light only crafts. It was his opinion that finally prevailed because it was supported by all the governments that followed.

 

The application of the constructions program started with the placement of an order for 4 ‘HYDRA’ type destroyers [see: “The chronicle of the sinking of Hydra- April 22, 1941” ].  The choice of this type was debated for a long type in naval circles.  Placing the destroyers order in Italian shipyards, independently of any foreign policy reasons of the Government, was explained by their relative low price and their outperforming speed.  In practice however, it was proved that these ships were lacking in naval qualities and strength of construction.  As far as the 40 and 41 knots speed is concerned we never succeeded reaching them, eventually because the first years after we took delivery of these ships - when such speeds could be expected to be reached – our engines personnel was not sufficiently trained.

 

Following this first order, the 1931 naval constructions program was not applied as planned.  Orders for an additional 2 destroyers were only placed towards the end of 1937.  Nothing was done to strengthen the naval aviation, the other axis of the light constructions program and a condition for its adoption.

 

Thus, after the withdrawal from active duty of 2 ‘LEMNOS’ type battleships and the sale of some old units, the Hellenic Navy whose future was believed so bright in the eve of World War I [see: Period of work and calm- Happy days 1913-1915 ] , had developed after 25 years into a feeble naval force.

 

Again Director of the Direction of Radiotelegraphic Service of the Navy

 

Towards the end of 1929, the institution of permanent Director of Direction of Radiotelegraphic Service of the Navy (D.R.Y.N.) was re-established and the then Director, in spite of the fact that he lacked the relative specialisation, had asked to become permanent.  Because some of the members of the Supreme Naval Committee believed that those taking up permanent positions in technical services should have the relative specialisation, I was asked if I wished to take up again the position of permanent Director.  I rejected this offer because I had decided to return to the active Navy and besides, after the reduction of he responsibilities of the D.R.Y.N. [see: “Greece becomes a Republic- Series of coups 1924- 1925” ], this position didn’t present sufficient interest for me.  I declared however at the same time that till I get a position at sea, I would not object serving at any position satisfying the Navy’s needs.

 

Thus, from January 1930, I was once again serving at my well-known site of the Votanicos wireless installations.

 

My old position didn’t present anymore the same interest for me but on the other hand there were much fewer interventions that had rendered her intolerable in the past.  My subordinates who were taking advantage of anomalous situations to continuously advance new demands knew that this period was over.  Those interested in the spinning off to other Ministries of various responsibilities of the D.R.Y.N. had reached their goals and stopped fighting her.  Last but not least, Lieutenant Commander K. Pezopoulos, the Assistant Director, had been trained to the same School as I and therefore for the first time I could count on having real help.

 

The renewal of equipment had continued during my absence and most of the ships and shore stations were disposing new type wireless stations and were expecting to get more.  However, five years after the first installation of the new type stations no user guide had been issued for the operators and frequent damages were due to the empirical use of the equipment. Το cover this need I decided to write new books concerning these new stations. After 8 months of work I had completed drafting the two volumes of “Wireless telegraphy of continuous waves” [see: Books], of which the first covered the necessary theoretical knowledge and the second the description of the new equipment. By mid-1931 both volumes had been printed and distributed to the personnel.

 

Once more I run the risk to stop my naval career and head a large technical Service.  Fortunately for me this didn’t happen because of the usual reactions.  The creation of a Ministry of the Air force generated the need of a radiotelegraphy service. There existed already four public wireless services for the Navy, Army, Ministry of Transports and Merchant Marine and a fifth one was required.  This entailed personnel to be trained, new shore stations, repair shops, schools, etc.  The Minister of the Air force was hesitating to use for this project funds destined to the development of the new Weapon.   As there was no specialist in the Air force, he consulted me repeatedly to find a solution to the problem.  I maintained that the D.R.Y.N. had initially been created to serve all State needs and for this reason her installations were much larger than those needed by the Navy.  Therefore, after the spin-off to other Ministries of the relative responsibilities, the needs of the Air force could easily be satisfied.  The Minister fully agreed and with the Minister of the Navy took the initiative to organize a meeting under the Prime Minister in which all interested Ministries would be represented to examine this issue.

 

At the meeting, all interested Ministers and officials recognized the disadvantages of the existing polyarchy.  It was a fact that only the Naval Service and partially the Army disposed specialised personnel.  The Navy was detaching personnel to cover the needs of the Merchant Marine and the Air force had to organize its own.  In spite of the existence of a Wireless Consultation Committee in which all interested parties were represented, each Service was creating new shore stations without taking into account the existing or those planned by the others.

 

I presented the general principles of a plan aiming to transform the D.R.Y.N. to a National Radiotelegraphy Service that would serve all permanent wireless shore stations and would be responsible for supplying and servicing the wirelesses of all the Services.  In addition it would train in her Schools not only her own personnel but also the senior personnel of the other Services. The three War Ministries would take over serving the war ships stations, the mobile army stations and the aircraft respectively, with their own personnel.  The new National Radiotelegraphy Service would be reporting to one of the Ministries –at the choice of the Government – and would be staffed by personnel detached from all the interested Services.  Today, after the impressive development of telecommunications, my proposal would appear unrealistic.  We should not however forget that at that time, with the exception of the Navy, the wireless was still at its beginnings.

 

A debate followed and finally the participants agreed – in principle- with my proposal.  The representative of the Army expressed some minor objections and the Prime Minister asked me to formulate my proposal in a Law draft.  He also informed me that he had the intention to place me in charge of the new Service.

 

After these instructions I should have been sure for a quick materialization of my proposal.  But I had my doubts, because there was a worrisome element.  The General Director of the P.T.T., a close collaborator of the Prime Minister and fanatic opponent of my proposal, who was present at the meeting, had systematically avoided expressing his opinion during this meeting.  I therefore feared that he would express his disagreement to the Prime Minister in private.

 

I interrupted any other job and in a few days I had completed drafting-up a Law that covered all the details of the mater.  I delivered this draft to the Minister of the Navy who undertook to present it to the Prime Minister.  Days and weeks went by and we had no news on the fate of this Law. The Minister himself was unable to inform me accordingly… Assumingly the sphinx had talked!

 

After a long time, when I was commanding a war ship, some new Minister of the Navy brought up again this issue and asked for my advice.  I presented to him the relevant file and declared at the same time that I definitely didn’t wish to get involved any more with the Radiotelegraphy Service.  I also added that, in my opinion, he was trying in vain. It was the last time I heard anything about this mater.

 

The Minister of the Air force on the other hand, when he realized that there was no hope to implement this proposal as presented, tried to implement it at least for the Air force. His plans were never implemented however, because of the systematic reactions of his subordinates.

 

At the Naval School of War

 

In the prospect of the October general mutations I applied again with the request for a position of Commander in one of the active ships of the Fleet.  Unfortunately my request was not satisfied once more, as it had been decided that commanders named the previous years should at least serve two years at sea.  I then asked to at least get approval to study at the School of General Education for superior officers of the Naval School of War, especially since -following a new principle- graduating from this School was required before taking over command of a ship in the Fleet.  I faced great difficulties in getting approval for this new request; this time the excuse being that the Navy couldn’t find a replacement for the D.R.Y.N.  I finally got the approval, when I proposed to continue in parallel executing my duties at the D.R.Y.N.   Thus, in October 1930, I started my studies at the Naval School of War.

 

The Naval School of War was created a few years before and her Director of Studies was an officer of the British Mission who had as assistants Greek superior officers that had graduated from this School. The Chief of the British Mission was the dean of the School and was the supervisor of the School.  Initially, the School functioned as School for Staff Officers. Later, there was each year a 5 month program addressed to all superior officers and all officers to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander were required to enroll at the School.

 

The School was the subject of many discussions; many were criticizing its overall mode of operation and curriculum, some were even expressing doubts about her reason of existence.

 

Thus, when I enrolled at the School as student, I tried to form a personal opinion and came to some conclusions that proved quite useful when some years later I took over as Director of the School.

 

My impression was that a School of general education for superior officers aiming at providing the necessary elements of staff education and general knowledge concerning the tactics of use of weapons was undoubtedly very useful.  Therefore, I agreed with the principle that successfully completing this School should be a prerequisite to becoming superior officer.  Undoubtedly, no school can be compared to the great school of the experience acquired with Fleet maneuvers.  On the other hand, no superior officer can successfully execute his mission if he lacks the basic theoretical knowledge of his profession.  No one should be called to command a naval force, or simply a war ship, if his intellectual level is lower than required for these positions. A perfect opportunity to check officers’ knowledge and qualities is offered at the Naval School of War in the context of war games and special case studies to solve.  The British Missions who have transposed and adjusted to our own conditions the methods used in their own Schools have rendered a commendable service to the Hellenic Navy.

 

What was the reason then for the outcry against the School, especially in the first years of her operation?  As I realized later, when I took over as Director of the School, the uproar was due to some of the first officers who graduated from the School with not a very good evaluation. These officers might have been right on one point only: Although their evaluation was done by British officers, they suspected that they were influenced by their assistants Greek officers who were their juniors in the Hellenic Navy. This was against our own beliefs concerning hierarchy but, at the same time, was unavoidable in the first years of the School’s operation.  From the evaluations I had the opportunity to review (some of the first year student evaluations were not found in the archives) I can confirm that they had been very conscientiously prepared, were extremely observant and rendered a photographic presentation of the intellectual capabilities, character and temperament of the students.

 

Some of my student colleagues were complaining that after a short career we were back to student desks and were displeased when the staff of the School would annotate their solutions of the homework.  Although I didn’t always agree with the directions that were being followed, I concentrated on my studies and decided to get the most out of them. Having not served in the Fleet after the war and having not followed the new methods of tactics, I must admit that my studies proved extremely useful.

 

During the period of our studies we used to dine at the School and this was a very pleasant recreation. Among colleagues, avoiding political discussions, personal sensitive subjects and student - staff differences, we were having unforgettable moments that we hadn’t known since our years at the Naval School of Cadets.

 

I finished my studies in June 1931 and was among those chosen to follow in the future additional studies of Staff officer.

 

Commander of the destroyer “LEON”

 

In May 1931 I finally took over the command of a destroyer.  Leaving the service I had been serving for so many years, I was happy because the new permanent Director taking over was an officer with a very good educational background and zeal, the up to then Assistant Director K. Pezopoulos.

 

The destroyer “LEON” was undergoing a general overhaul and was not expected to participate in the maneuvers of the Fleet before the following season.  This delay was of course unpleasant but allowed me time to deal with calm on various sides of the naval profession that I had abandoned for many years. Having followed for a long time a technical career I brought to mind a period of Admiral von Tirpitz’s memoirs that every officer should read:

 

“Every superior officer of the Navy must dedicate part of his life to the conclusions of practical life. Superior mathematics is very valuable as exercise of the mind, but are to some degree dangerous for a naval officer. Being inexhaustible, they over absorb and because of their exactitude they mislead so that proper attention is not paid to imponderable factors. As a result it is often forgotten that Supreme Command is not a science of logic but rather a science of instinct that mainly requires personality.  For this reason, those destined to the top positions should not be getting a specialist’s training. It is advisable for them to have worked on a specialty, to know her importance and understand how much mental work and hard work it entails, but their career must be different from the one of the technicians.”

 

How true and how many excellent officers, especially from the older ones, had completely destroyed their careers because they ignored these principles!  But also those who look down on science and consider technicians as being inferior must carefully read the last paragraph of the above passage.

 

As far as I am concerned, under the pressure of external conditions and because of my natural inclination towards applied sciences, I had been carried away towards a technician’s career beyond the limits so clearly set by the German Admiral.  Returning to the right path I knew I would be facing difficulties but was confident that with insistence and persistence I would overcome them.  My studies at the Naval School of War had already helped me significantly to shed the mentality of an excessively technician officer and the favorable valuation of my work by the British Mission had persuaded me that I was not suffering from permanent deformation of a technician.

 

Many of the ship commanders at that time considered, as many of their predecessors, that their duties were limited mainly to those at sea and while at anchor were only exercising a high level supervision, transferring their authority to their subordinates.  My perceptions concerning the duties of a commander were different and, although I was very fortunate to have an excellent staff, a hard working executive officer -caring for the crew and at the same time able to impose his will- and able officers supervisors.  The limits of authorities of each officer are clearly defined in the regulations drawn on the basis of conclusions of many years of experience of our own and foreign navies and have to be respected.  Because exercising real supervision is possible when the supervisor possesses the mater, I initially studied my ship equipment, the relative user guides and the internal regulation manuals. I also reviewed the orders and instructions issued by the Fleet these last years. From this review I realized that although each chief wishes to appear as innovator, in reality there is continuity of work and every year new progress is done in training at the Fleet. This was quite satisfactory if one takes into account the frequent changes of persons and the upheavals created by the political anomalies.

 

Around the middle of the summer of 1931, I’ve been momentarily fearful that the period of calm would be interrupted once more.  The General Director of the Naval Base of Salamis informed me about the imminent eruption a new coup d’état under the leadership of General Pangalos –again- and the participation of politicians of the opposition and ordered me to take the necessary security measures.  I was very surprised by this piece of intelligence -that proved wrong in the end- because the generally prevailing climate was not suitable for such actions. Similar rumours equally groundless were repeated after some months and had as result the complete modification of the program of manoeuvres of the Fleet.  I have the impression that this intelligence was coming from certain persons trying that way to appear indispensable for the security of the regime.  Under all regimes these persons that systematically took advantage of this sensitive point of those in power were one of the main reasons for our many years of misfortune.

 

The overhaul of the destroyer “LEON” was over by the end of 1931 and she was ready to take part at the new period of Fleet manoeuvres.  A new Commander of the Fleet took over at that time. I would have served with pleasure under Captain J. Demestichas, the previous Commander of the Fleet, a fanatic of the venizelist camp, who was treating with fairness and extreme courtesy his political opponents and would only push them aside if they were reasons, in his opinion, of security of the regime.  I was extremely pleased with the nomination of Captain L. Theoharis as the new Commander of the Fleet, an officer under whom I have served many years. He was my commander in World War I [see: Greece enters World War I - Extensive purges 1917-1919] and later my Director at the D.R.Y.N. [see: Asia Minor disaster, Revolution, Counterrevolution 1921 -1923]. I was sure that he wouldn’t be mixing service with politics and with his great power of conception and his administrative abilities he would facilitate the work of his subordinates.

My expectations were fulfilled in a large extent and they would have been completely realized if his command had not coincided with the end of the period of calm.

 

Commander of the destroyers’ flotilla

 

Under the new Commander of the Fleet I was provisionally entrusted with the duties of Commander of the destroyers’ flotilla. These provisional duties lasted one year.

Τhe destroyers’ flotilla that participated in the maneuvers consisted of 2 ‘LEON’ type and 4 ‘THYELLA’ type destroyers.  Flagship of the Commander of the Fleet was the light cruiser “ELLI” and after the summer of 1932 the battleship “AVEROF”.

After a short training period for the crews at anchor, we executed in January 1932 for 3 weeks maneuvers at sea.  These maneuvers were not based on a gradually progressive program but, in between the usual tactical zigzags, the most difficult methods of daytime torpedo attacks were introduced.  Under such conditions one couldn’t expect successes from the first time; however, after a number of repeats the results were satisfactory. This way of scheduling the program was due to the idiosyncrasy of the Commander of the Fleet. I would have personally preferred much more systematic methods of training, but must confess that with the applied method we reached much faster to a point of progress that in later periods when the progressive system was applied a much longer time was needed.   

After the end of the maneuvers the Fleet arrived at the port of Volos where we were expected to remain till Easter and execute training in the Pagassitikos Gulf.  After a short stay at Volos, new rumors concerning the eruption of a new coup caused the Ministry of the Navy to issue an urgent order to immediately abandon the port of Volos and sail to the island of Syros.  It seems that the naval command feared that the ships docked at the port of Volos were running the risk to be seized by surprise from the shore and for this reason they decided the ships to be at anchor, surrounded by sea!  I was ordered to lead the destroyers to our new base, while the Commander of the Fleet with one of the destroyers went to Athens to get instructions.

More trouble was in store for us at our new base.  In the evening of the last Sunday of the carnival, I was urgently called to the flagship where the Commander informed me that according to intelligence received at the Ministry mutineers on board ships were coming to Syros to seize our ships!  I was ordered to move the destroyer “LEON” to the port entrance and stay there at anchor to guard our base. While the remaining officers were attending a dancing reception in town, the officers and the crew of “LEON” spent the night on deck with freezing temperatures, with our guns stand by, searching the horizon with projectors to discover inexistent attackers!  I must stress here, because this is important for the events that followed after some months, that for this watch my ship was chosen even if I was the less close to the ruling political party.

The maneuvers continued in the summer under favorable conditions, enriched with small interesting cases, with impressive results of progress.  Much more real fire and torpedo launchings were executed than in the period before the Greek-Italian war, when I was once more Commander of the destroyers’ flotilla. Towards the end of the period a small strategic exercise was executed in which the ships were divided into two opposite forces with bases in the islands of Melos and Paros. The younger officers were very interested in this exercise that lasted a few days, although due to the small number of ships taking part it was difficult to maintain our seriousness.

 

The review of the British Fleet of the Mediterranean Sea in Corfu

 

In October 1932, the destroyer “LEON” was detached for a few days from the Fleet to represent the Hellenic Navy in Corfu at the review by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Windsor of the British Fleet of the Mediterranean Sea. The sight of this magnificent at that time Fleet consisting of over 40 ships, battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers and 2 destroyers flotillas was indeed very imposing.  We especially admired at their arrival the positioning of the ships at their anchorage, done with mathematical exactitude according to plan.

 1932 Corfu,  the H.M.S. “QUEEN ELISABETH”

On the review day an official dinner was offered on the Fleet Admiral’s flagship in which only flag officers participated. On the same day and hour I was invited to dine on the flagship of the cruisers by a Rear Admiral that had served in the past as Assistant Commander of the British Mission in Greece and who was not participating at the official dinner for this reason.  After dinner I was invited to visit with him the “QUEEN ELISABETH”, the Fleet Admiral’s flagship, where officers and cadets, in honor of the Prince, presented an amateurish show. It was a musical, an exact representation of the customs and artistic preferences of their country.

1932 Corfu, Commander Gr. Mezeviris welcomes the Prince of Wales aboard the destroyer "LEON"

During our stay in Corfu two events happened that show the characteristics of our people.  When just after the arrival of the British Fleet Admiral’s flag ship I visited her to execute a formal visit, I had in mind that this visit would be returned at most by the Chief Staff Officer of the Fleet.  I was thus amazed when I heard Lord Mountbatten, the Admiral’s flag-lieutenant, informing me that in one hour the Prince accompanied by the Admiral wished to review the destroyer “LEON”.  On the occasion of this trip we had of course especially taken care of the appearance of the ship and its crew. Naval officers know however that of the detailed last minute preparations when a simple commander’s review is expected.  I believe that Lord Mountbatten saw in my face my anxiety because he asked me if I wished to use a fast British motor-launch to return to my ship.

 

I accepted of course his offer. The news broke as a bomb on the destroyer “LEON”.  The men, on their own initiative, run to their quarters to fix all details and while I was running through the ship to check if everything was ok, my executive officer was shouting at the ensigns who as usually had a slovenly appearance.

 1932 Corfu,  The Prince of Wales visits the Greek destroyer "LEON"

When the foreign officials came aboard the ship everything was perfect and I was honored with their warm congratulations for the whole appearance of the ship and crew.

 

During that same visit onboard the British flag ship another matter turned up much more difficult to solve.  I was informed that in the evening all the British ships will light up and was asked the same to be done by the “LEON”.  Anticipating this eventuality I had asked before my departure from our Naval Base an illumination device but the necessary supplies were not available at the warehouse.  I was thus forced to reply that usually our destroyers are not equipped with illumination devices, but that I would try to find a solution.  Indeed, as soon as our official visitors left the “LEON” I asked my executive officer to do what was necessary in order to be able to illuminate at night.  The ship’s electrician petty officer went immediately ashore and with the help of the police opened all the electrical supplies shops, that were closed because it was Sunday, and collected as many lamps and bases he could find.  In the mean time the ship’s electrician sailors were busy connecting old cables found on the ship.  Six hours after the order was given, an illumination device was ready and the ship lighted up simultaneously with the British.  The British Commander in Chief was informed by the cruisers’ Rear Admiral, to who I had detailed our relative actions, and thanked me for our courteous gesture and added that “our own people wouldn’t have succeeded”.

1932 Corfu, Commander Gr Mezeviris (center)  and his staff on board the destroyer "LEON"

 

Towards the end of the training period it was planned that the Commander of the Hellenic Fleet would review the ships’ fighting spirit.  To allow the ships to make the necessary preparations for the review they were allowed to anchor at a base of their commander’s choice inside a certain region.  Contrary to most of the commanders, who combining work with pleasure chose bays attended by tourists, I chose as our base a rather deserted bay famous for its climate and natural beauty on the island of Ios.  My officers who didn’t know the place seemed displeased with my choice. However, as soon as we arrived there they enjoyed the place and worked with great zeal.  The excellent results we obtained at the review, when the action of a ship is reproduced as in reality with the simultaneous use of all her weapons, was the best reward for our work.

 

Unfortunately the period of relative calm had been extended beyond what was possible for our country and the training period was not destined to continue undistracted.”