aegean sea defined in 1939 yearaegean sea - Aegean Sea (greek archipelago (Gr. archipelagos, chief sea));
aegean sea - That part of the Mediterranean which lies between Greece and Asia Minor. Its length N. to S. is about 400 m., its greatest breadth is about 170 m. In parts very deep, more than 7,000 ft. having been sounded in the S. basin, its navigation is hazardous and difficult. The waters abound in fish and sponges. The chief of its numerous islands are Euboea (the largest), Mitylene, Thasos,. Samothrace, Imbros, Lemnos, Chios, Samos, the Sporades, and the Cyclades.
The Dodecanese (q.v.) are, as the name implies, a group of 12 Aegean islands (13 if Rhodes is included) first occupied by Italy in 1912 and formally ceded to her in 1924. During the Second Great War, naval and military bases in the Dodecanese were frequently attacked by British aircraft, and there was considerable bombing of Axis shipping. After the fall of Greece in 1941, all the islands were controlled by Italo-German garrisons. It was hoped that they would be immediately liberated with the capitulation of Italy to the Allies in 1943, and British forces were landed on Kos, Leros, and Samos. But the Italian commander on Rhodes surrendered to the Germans on Sept. 3, and this led to the assertion of German domination of Kos, Leros, and Samos. The liberation of Athens in Oct., 1944, reversed the position. On Sept. 9 British and Allied warships had launched a campaign for the destruction of all German-controlled shipping in the Aegean. Naxos, Lemnos, Karpathos, and Santorin were occupied in Oct., and with the liberation of the Greek mainland, Dec., 1944, German garrisons on other islands (some 20,000 men) were marooned. They surrendered in May, 1915.
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