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Themis Marinos, 101, last of the Gorgopotamos saboteurs, dies

TAGS: Obituary

Themis Marinos, a Greek Army reserve officer who took part in the destruction of the Gorgopotamos railway bridge in 1942, hampering supplies to Germany's Afrika Korps, has died.

Marinos (L in photo) was the last of those who had planned and executed the operation, itself a rare example of a collaboration between the two main Greek resistance organizations, ELAS and EDES. Marinos was a member of a group of British-led Special Operations Executive (SOE) detachment, which, after Gorgopotamos, formed the core of the British Military Mission to Greece.

The blowing up of the bridge, on the night of November 25-26 1942, in the end did not have much of an effect on the African front, as the Germans were already in full retreat after the battle of El-Alamein, a month previously. But it was the largest act of Allied sabotage in Europe up to that point. Sadly, it was also the last time the communist-controlled ELAS and EDES collaborated; they would soon clash, in a prelude to the bloody civil war that followed Greece's liberation in 1944.

Marinos himself was arrested by ELAS commander Aris Velouchiotis in 1943, but escaped thanks to the help of a friendly village woman. He vividly recounted the episode in the second of three volumes he wrote about his war activities (the first deals with the Gorgopotamos mission itself and the third with a spying and sabotage mission in the Ionian islands in 1944).

Themis Marinos was born on the island of Zakynthos in 1917. He earned a degree in economics. He fought against the Italians in Albania in 1940 and the Germans in Crete in 1941, as a reserve officer _ a 2nd Lieutenant. Taken prisoner, he escaped and reached Egypt by submarine, joining the Greek forces there.

Chosen to attend a British special warfare training center in Palestine, he parachuted into central Greece in September 1942 as the only Greek member of a 12-member group led by Lt. Col. Eddie Myers and his deputy, Major Chris Woodhouse.

Following Gorgopotamos and before his arrest by Velouchiotis, Marinos directed sabotage activities in western Greece as a diversion just before the Allied landings in Sicily in July 1943. He returned to Egypt in January 1944 and soon after embarked on his Ionian islands mission, which ended in November 1944.

Following the war, Marinos became a member of the Greek delegation at the Allied Control Commission in Bulgaria (1945) and a Greek government liaison officer at the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB) monitoring, among other thing, the Greek Civil War of 1946-49.

His subsequent career in Greece included posts as an adviser to the Ministry of Coordination (now the Finance ministry), financial director of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), Deputy Director-General of Hellenic Railways, Director of the Hellenic Bank  for National Industrial Development (ETEVA) and CEO of the Investment Bank, as well as a member of several boards.

Abroad, he worked as an adviser to the Doxiadis Group, a major construction company, on projects in Ghana and Libya, a World Bank adviser in Ethiopia and a UN consulting expert on Harvard University-sponsored programs.

In 1993, he helped found Internet service provider Hellas OnLine, although, as he said, it was his son who had the technical know-how.

Marinos was raised to the rank of major in the British Army.

“Themis Marinos, the last Gorgopotamos saboteur, was a brave military man and a great economist. On of the last of a great generation,” opposition and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted Sunday.

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