His victories as credited by RAF, are :

  • 9 + 1/2 + 1/3 enemy planes shot down 

  • 2 destroyed on ground

  • 1 probable shot down

 

 

Vasilios Vassiliades - 'Vass'  (1920-1945) 

 

DFC , DFM

 

If by the term 'Ace' in air warfare we identify a fighter pilot with the highest score of air victories in comparison to others , then the long 'missing genuine' Greek Air Ace is beyond doubt  

 

                             Vassilis Vassiliades 

 

born by Michael and Augustine Vassiliades in 1920, Greek citizen during his entire life , from the island of Chios. He is 'missing' because there has been no answer so far to the question "...if there was ever a Greek 'Ace' in WW2 ..." and we say 'genuine' to simply express the fact that he has always kept his Greek nationality . 

Our heart will never of course do away with our much beloved Ace Spiros Pisanos (see our home page), 10 victories and 33 overall citations , ( still alive and the first one ever of the obscured Greek-origin pilots to find and contact personally) and Yiannis Playis , 16 victories (deceased after the war period ) ; we merely specify, however ,  that both have changed their nationality within the war period and scored all their victories under another passport. 

For all those three and some others less known until now , two facts have influenced their presence in the 'known' ( or shall I say  rather unknown ?) Greek history. Firstly that many of the facts were never recorded or saved and secondly when this was the case it so happened by the mere  personal effort of some very few who happened to serve under the Hellenic ( then Royal ) Air Force during the Italian and German invasion in 1940-41 , the air fighting over the desert (1942-44) and then the war of the 1946-49 that followed -  the most prominent one Elias Kartalamakes (see our home page) to mention the least .  It is evident that due to the war difficulties no communication was possible with the Greeks fighting outside Greece and North Africa ; this partly explains why other Greek or Greek origin pilots , some dozen estimated of them , fighting during WW2 escaped the pen of the Greek historian for some 50 years and more after the war. It was therefore time for this injustice to find an end.

Note : Allow me to remind our readers that the real number of Greek-origin pilots in WW2 is astonishingly superior if we add those that either served for a short period (Vlachakis, USAF) , were early killed during training (Anagnostopoulos , USAF) or became known only due to some references in short articles (Savides USAF,Vrilakas USAF)  

 

Searching for ..."Vass" 

 

Especially for Vassiliades the way I encountered his name for the first time remains extraordinary and I would like to mention it. It was in 1999 when in a communal recycling center in Sandweiler ,Luxembourg, I saw an old paper-back left by someone on the 'free-to-take-away' selves with fighter planes on its cover. It was an old copy of Pierre Clostermann's 'Le Grand Cirque' , in French , which I have found extremely interesting and decided to work on. Thanks to his intimate and emotional style Clostermann did not forget to mention the loss of a pilot in the same base , Volkel - Holland , he was operating from under the name 'Vass' of the 3rd RAF squadron. Apart from this short nick name I had no other pertinent information and despite this word being a real family name in the Czech language , yet my instinct directed me towards a greek-origine full name like say Vassilopoulos , Vassilakis etc... 

 

My first thought , however , was for a Greek-Cypriot person of the British Commonwealth that participated in WW2 with the British forces. 

But as my amateur historian instinct would not allow me settle with something hypothetical , I asked for  a 'general call' to an old colleague I knew , Brian Dark,  who is an active member of the RAF veteran members still participating with their meetings here and there. It was due to Brian that the first good news came to me when he told me there have been some old RAF members that  remembered a guy called Vassiliades Basil (Vassilios) , an RAF pilot of Greek citizenship that fought with them : '...the son of a Greek ship-owner, killed in 1945 and whose father had named a liberty ship after him ...' . That was a real trigger that started a chain reaction in me. 

 

 

 

On the trace of a Greek Ace

I then tried to find a contact with the archives in Chios island , Greece  , regrettably however but not surprisingly , without any success. I then approached Clostermann (still alive at that time) via a friend , Manuel  Perales. Clostermann did confirm Vassiliades name and existence in the 3rd RAF squadron adding a short description  out of his memories. He said : "...a very thin and shy young manr around his 20s , known for his audacity in the air, lost bravely few days before the war end over Germany..". Some days later , magnificent researchers I came upon on the internet provided me with his first ever picture to me. Starting from there onwards mainly by persistence of Angelos Thalassenos within a year's time had discovered the sister of Vassilis Vassiliades , Maria ,  living in Canada , who had the pleasure to accept his visit and then by the help of his son , has presented Angelos , Vassilis personal log and other historical belongings , more pictures ,  his helmet , etc. Angelos with his mind of the ceaseless researcher was to locate further data and even the son of the last German pilot whom Vassilis shot down (Georg Genth - still alive in 2007). On my side I searched from the Henton RAF Museum archives his official log in RAF that included even a B/W picture of his Mustang QV-D plane when this type was first integrated in RAF , 19th squadron - the pilot inside the cockpit should not have been Vassiliades , however. Then Angelos let me know that once he was shot down over France in his Mustang QV-V, near Rouen , were he was given shelter by a family under the possible name of O-z-e-r. Searching on the French yellow-book list I detected that in this area there was only one  similar family name : Oger , and I sent letters to three persons found with this name asking for any help on the matter. I then got a reply from Jean Oger , a 85 year old man , a keen amateur historian who was the young son of this family and has seen and known Vassiliades well during his staying there. In August 2005 we both visited Mr Jean Oger at his home in the country side of Louviers-Les Elbeufs , South of Rouen , in France. After a very warm and touching welcoming he has shown us the exact place he was hiding and the very spot his plane has fallen. He narrated as well lots of  other little stories of his staying there until he contacted the advancing allies and rejoined his squadron. In the mean time Angelos was finding more details on combat descriptions Vassiliades has participated in , cross checked from archives of the RAF and the Luftwaffe and other internet serious historical researchers.  . The next visit was planned in 2006 is Runnymede , near Windsor in UK , to the Memorial of the Commonwealth Pilots where the name of Vassiliades appears engraved. During a shinny 2-day summer trip in UK me and Angelos ran along the southern coast of the Thames on course to Windsor then went up the hill some 3 Km before the city to arrive to the Runnymede Memorial and get pictures from the column were Vassiliades name is engraved on 

By this day Angelos has collected a vast volume of material concerning Vassiliades , the most possible accumulation of data that could be found from everywhere that lead to a large article (monographie) on Vassiliades to be published in April 2007. 

 

 

 

Vassiliades Vassilios is the only Greek Ace known 

to have his name engraved on the RAF Memorial Monument in Runnymede. 

His name appears on the 266th panel of the peristyle of this edifice

 

 

VASSILIADES    B.M.

              D.F.C., D.F.M.

 

Panel 266

 

The Runnymede RAF Monument

 

 

VASSILLIADES, BASIL MICHAEL Flight Lieutenant Nr 182875 ,date of death 25/03/1945 ,age 24, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, United Kingdom 

Panel 266. RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL

 

 

Mrs Denise & Mr Jean OGER

who have welcomed as with much warmth and kindness at their home in Normandy - Louviers , South of Rouen

The exact crash site (indicated by the 'X' ) of the Mustang QV-V , RAF Sq 19 flown by Vassiliades. At this point the engine has penetrated about 3-4 meters into the soft ground t but the thickness of the tree foliage was able to save the pilot's life, told us Mr Oger

Mr Jean Oger, standing in the middle, who at that time was living on the nearby farm , some 200 meters away, has witnessed the whole thing. Later his family will hide Vassiliades for some 15 days until the first advancing allied tanks reached their village

 

The wider area around the crash site (indicated by a red square) and the trajectory followed by Vassiliades (blue arrow), as described to us by Mr Oger

The Allies were strafing the 2 bridges of the Seine river, the only escape route for the Germans from Normandy at that time

The exact location is found between the two small villages of La Harengère and La Petite Valée 

 

 

The QV-V Mustang II. Profile by Angelos Dalassenos

 

The Greek modellers association IPMS-HELLAS excibiting the Tempest JF-A (scale 1:48) Vassiliades was killed with

 

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