MOHA Research Centre and the NGO Cyclops based in Drama, presented the book “ADRIAS, They were all heroes. The Biography of the Legendary Destroyer”, by Margarita Pournara, in an event that took place in Imaret on Saturday 25 February 2023, at 19:30. The book and the history of the destroyer was discussed by the Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the local history researcher Mr. Konstantinos P. Papakosmas and the author and journalist of “Kathimerini” newspaper Mrs. Margarita Pournara.
80 years ago, during one of the critical phases of the World War II, the destroyer “ADRIAS” wrote one of the most historic pages of heroism of the Greek Navy. It was a newly built ship provided by the British to support the Greek fleet that escaped to Egypt in 1941. Greek men from Thrace to Crete, who left their enslaved homeland behind, as well as Greeks from Egypt and Asia Minor, were serving on board. The “ADRIAS”, commanded by Ioannis Toumbas, took part in missions and engagements in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the most important being the Operation Dodecanese in the autumn of 1943. This was the period when Fascist Italy had just capitulated and the Germans were trying to occupy this group of islands so that it would not fall into the hands of the Allies.
On October 22, 1943, while trying to carry supplies, “ADRIAS” struck a German mine just outside Kalymnos, which cut off 1/3 of the ship, blowing up the entire bow to the bridge. Despite the enormous destruction, the men managed in a heroic voyage to reach the coast of then neutral Turkey. There, with the help of the British, a plan of escape was organized, and after adversity and 730 miles, the cut ship reached the port of Alexandria. Its reception was so triumphant that the Egyptians thought the war was over.
The book by Margarita Pournara sheds light on the contribution of Captain Ioannis Toumbas, Chief Engineer Kostas Arapis, as well as the other officers and crew members. The author’s research was based, in addition to known sources, on German and British archives that introduce new evidence. Special mention was made at the event for the officer Konstantinos Sotiriou from Kavala, whose role was crucial to the rescue of the ship.