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Report - Artillery Bunkers - Kos, Greek Islands


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28DL Full Member
The Greek Island of Kos lies a few miles from the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea. As one of the closest islands to the Turkish mainland, it has long been on the frontline of Greece’s eastern borders. Indeed, the island was occupied the Ottomans and Turks from 1523 until 1912.
Until recent times, there has been a lot of tension between Greece and Turkey, especially after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Turkey still has the habit of flying large flags atop tall flagpoles in full view of the Greeks. Due to this tension, the Greek government has always viewed the security of its eastern borders seriously. Even today, there are seven military bases on Kos itself.
One a previous trip to Kos in 2010 I looked at some of the military defences located mainly on the northeast of the island.
This is closest point to Turkey and the defences here are most dense. They peter out gradually in the five or six miles towards the salt flats at Tigaki, where the coast is also protected by a military base on the nearby island of Pserimos. There are some structures to be seen inland, but how many I cannot tell. There is a lot of overgrown vegetation that could hide other structures and I have been unable to uncover any information on them anywhere, or whether similar structures exist on other islands close to the Turkish border, apart from a couple of pictures on the internet of similar pillboxes on Samos, an island that is closer to Turkey. It is likely that similar defence construction took place on other islands such as Rhodes or Symi, Leros or Lesbos, that also lie close to Turkey.

All pictures were taken on a 16mp Sony HX9 compact. This is an excellent camera by the way, if you have to travel light.

The artillery bunker, this is different from the ones I photographed last year. They seemed to be locations for an artillery piece on a temporary basis. This is something quite different. There are quite a few pictures, all sized to 600x400.

This is Greece, not Borneo, though I could imagine John Wayne and some Green Berets charging round the corner

A bit closer

Close up of the embrasure

Field of fire. A few metres of scrub, a road, a bit of beach and Turkey in the background

Down the barrel. Its either been filled or plugged with cement

Round the back. This is taken from a trench that connects with the bank of earth in the background

View from the other way
The bank is big enough to shelter an ammunition truck perhaps. Some erosion must have taken place since the bunker was last used.

View down the trench the other way. You could make a convincing WW2 Far East film here. Time to see how good the flash on the camera is

The entrance

Down the entrance passage. Note what looks like a sump in the floor. Usually they have a metal grill on them. Note also the tidemark. Winter storms must cause regular flooding

You’ve heard of guard sheep. They do it differently here. Little fellow had lost his tail somewhere

The door. This wasn’t locked, in fact it was off its hinges and could be laid down on the passage floor. (Put back on leaving). I’ve been in a few bunkers on Kos now of various types and they all seem to have really lightweight doors, that wouldn’t withstand much of an assault.

Lets look inside

I’m almost certain this is the turret from an US-built WW2 M18 Hellcat tank destroyer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M18_Hellcat
It has been placed on a circular structure. They must have put it there and built the rest of the bunker around it. This dates it to after WW2 definitely. The M18 was refurbished in large numbers in Italy after the War and sold to several countries in the region. Some were still in use in the Kosovo conflict in 1999. Its probably the Greeks had some as well. Note the radio wire. There is a hole in the wall it might have originally gone through

Into the turret. This is the breech end of the gun. Plugged or filled with cement

I found this weblink to the interior of the Hellcat. http://panzerfaust.ca/AFV interiors/m18.html
This is the ammunition locker. The standard Hellcat barrel bore was 76mm

Looking forward over the gun. The white spot of sunlight is where the sighting scope would have been

The trigger is part of the “Manual Traverse Control Handleâ€

Drivers seat and the commanders platform still in place

The original gearing for the turret? Its on the inside, so how they would have moved it around is a mystery

View up through the hatch. I think this was less of a hatch and actually a mounting ring for a machine gun. The M18 didn’t have a closed top to the turret

There are two alcoves on each side of the bunker, line with wood. Ammunition stores perhaps

This hole goes down into the floor at an angle. This could be a drain or more likely a grenade sump. You see them in most of the later style of bunkers on Kos, that I think may have been built after the Cyprus conflict in 1974. Similar sumps have been recorded in underground defensive posts on Cold War era US bases in the UK. Mind you if some lobbed a grenade through the embrasure, I wouldn’t fancy getting it into the single hole I could see in time

Stump of a wooden post, don’t know what it was for

View back towards the entrance passage. It was hot, sticky and humid in there. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if the gun was fired

Thanks for looking