Eighty years ago this week the folly of Britain's Dodecanese campaign comes to a miserable end.
German amphibious and airborne forces landed on Leros in the Dodecanese which the British had persisted in occupying despite the fall of Kos with its airfield in September, which gave the Germans practical air superiority. This was practically the last significant parachute assault conducted by the Germans in the war. The British and their Italian allies held out for four days before surrendering. 3,200 British and 5,350 Italian soldiers were captured for no results whatever. The remaining islands were quietly evacuated. Churchill had hoped that the Dodecanese campaign would bring Turkey into the war on the allied side, instead it was a major loss of prestige for Britain in the Mediterranean.
The Japanese navy had gathered a powerful force based around seven cruisers at the well-defended base of Rabaul on New Guinea. This menaced the US forces which had recently landed on Bougainville as a prelude to an attack on Rabaul itself. The US Navy responded with a strike by 97 aircraft from the carriers Saratoga and Princeton, followed by 27 B-24 land-based bombers. The attacks succeeded beyond hope. Six Japanese cruisers were damaged; four severely. The threat to the Bougainville landings was eliminated.
The British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley was released from prison detention under regulation 18-B which had begun in May 1940 when invasion seemed imminent. He suffered from phlebitis and his health was the official reason for his release which was signed by the Labour Home Secretary Herbert Morrison. It was severely criticized by the far left and some centrist elements of the Labour Party. 26 MPs voted against the move. Mosley spent the rest of the war under house arrest.