JOHN AGORASTOS PLAGHS

(in Greek :ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΑΓΟΡΑΣΤΟΣ ΠΛΑΓΗΣ)

19 victories , DSO , DFC and Bar 

(1919-1974)

 

 

 

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John Plagis in Malta having scored so far 13 victories with the 185 squadron in the cockpit of the Spifire Vb , s/n BR329 - see profile on the right

You may note that the name KAY is portrayed as the name of this plane . It was his sister's name KAY (in Greek Καίτη)

The 13 swastikas represent victories against both German and Italian planes 

John born on the 10/03/1919 , was the child of Greek immigrants from the greek island of Limnos to Rhodesia , son of Agorastos and Helen Plagis and a Greek citizen from his birth and during the entire war period. His offer to join the RAF was initially refused in 1939 but in 1940 Greece was already at war with England as an ally and John was accepted , at a moment when RAF was drying out of pilots

Trained in South Rhodesia then moved to England in 1942 , John was 23 years old at that time. He volunteered a transfer to the RAF Sq 249  based in Malta, then promoted to Flying Officer received a particular assignment. He took off from the deck of a carrier , The Eagle ,  to fly with his Spitfire Vb , coded GN-K , serial number AB436 , in a group of another 15 similar planes to reinforce the heavily bombarded isle of Malta , replacing the exhausted Hurricanes. RAF had lost until them some 300 of them opposing the extremely powerful Italian and German  squadrons who tried to destroy any possible means of resistance on the island. He personally mentions  

It was said that if anyone could possibly survive those air fights then his chances of becoming an ace were largely increased. He personally refers into a family letter that he was usually leading small 4 plane groups to intercept enemy squadrons usually at the size of 100 and more . On the 1st of April 1942 his small 4 plane team intercepted 180 bombers and 80 fighters attacking Malta. He was credited with 4 downed enemy planes , a possible 5th and a heavily damaged JU88 in the same day. He was awarded  for this action the  Distinguished Flying Cross medal and within the citation text we can read that he was considered a "...devastating pilot in his Spitfire..." .  Later in June same year he was credited again with 4 new victories that added a Bar to his DFC . He will serve also with the RAF Sq 185 also in Malta scoring until the middle of 1943, a total 13 victories.

John Plagis Spitfire Vb with the 13 victories painted , below the name KAY for his sister

 

 

 

ΟJ Plagis commanding squadron 126 in his Spitfire type IXc 'Muscat' , code 5J-K , s/n  ML214 (see profile to the right) 

 

He was then  posted to England where he initially recovered from war fatigue and then was sent to test the first new Spitfire IX version that was coming to production and able to measure as equal against the German FW-190. He was promoted to Squadron Leader  and then transferred to the RAF Sq 69 flying in support of heavy bombers over Europe. He was promoted to Squadron Leader in 1944 and was sent as commander of the RAF Sq 126. There he flew the Spitfire IX , 5J-K , serial ML214 , named also 'Muscat' as it was a personal gift of the ruler of this place to the RAF. (See its profile below). 

The model of this plane was recently released for assembly modellers by the ICM company in the scale of 1/48 and is listed within the Hannants Modelling Shop listings here (see picture below)

 

Promoted to Wing Commander he becomes the CO of Sq 126 and he will be credited with another 6 victories  getting the DSO distinction . In September 1944 he is shot down and wounded during the Market Garden operation (Arnhem) when escorting supply planes to the Brit parachutists under an extremely dense flak fire. He so gets the equivalent Dutch DSO.

Squadron Leader J. A. Plagis was promoted to Wing Commander on December 28, 1944 and posted to North Weald as Deputy Station Commander. Note : He was not a part of 126 Squadron in March 1945 nor of 'B' Wing at RAF Bentwaters for the operation against the Gestapo Headquarters or the Shell House , as wrongly mentioned in some sources - research made thoroughly into the operational archives of Sq 126 by Derek Carter (June 2013) .

In 1945 returns to his home place and gets the Rhodesian nationality commanding a local squadron. He  was called back to England in 1946 and stayed with the RAF until 1948 having flown with the first jets, namely the Gloster Meteor. He then retired with a total of 19  confirmed victories at the age of 29. 

Rhodesia has honoured him by attributing his name to an avenue where he also established his home. In 1962 he is mentioned to have been elected to the parliament of Salisbury with the Rhodesian Front party.  It was soon after reported that he probably committed suicide for unknown reasons. 

There are many references on him in books pertaining to the Malta air fighting and his listed in the List of World's Air Aces , at times as a Rhodesian or a Greek ace. In Greece  , private researches conducted by a number of few air enthusiasts in the world circa 1999 brought more light to his family unknown origins. 

 

 

 

It was actually not until 2007 that we had the great chance of locating his living family members . At first his niece Kelee Plagis , a professor in USA , who introduced us to his 4 children , leaving in South Africa ,John , Jill , Mickey and Jason. . We had the immense pleasure of receiving  the following family pictures from Jill which we proudly present below :

 

John Plagis carrying the DFC , therefore the picture is dated circa 1941 in Malta

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

Johns' parents and grand parents of Jill

Agorastos (1867-1940) 

Helen - maiden name Rosselli (1890-1792)

from the greek island of Limnos

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

This picture is probably taken when he joined the RAF at the age of 23

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

 

 

He carries the rank of the RAF Sergeant and therefore we assume the picture was taken in London. His writing reads : "To my Darling family. Love" , signed ' Jay.XX'

(Jay corresponds to a nick name for John)

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

 

One of the last photos of John Plagis in 1974 with his children during his last decoration. The medal carried on top of the others was probably awarded by the Orthodox Archbishop in Africa (Researches are going on to locate the origin of this medal)

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

 

Probably a picture from his college years 

Photograph courtesy of Jill Plagis

  Jill most recently sent us a letter of John Plagis himself to his family , referring to his war career and his own researches for his family origins in Greece. You may see below John's  hand-written signature to this letter

 

 

You may also read the following site on John Plagis :  http://www.acesofww2.com/rhodesia/Plagis.htm

 

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