World Battlefronts: A Campaign Wanes

Trouble loomed from the outset. Soon after Italy capitulated, a handful of British airborne troops took a handful of Dodecanese and Aegean islands off Turkey's west coast. Their aim: air bases, harbors from which to harass from the rear the Nazis' outer chain of Balkan defenses—the islands of Rhodes, Scarpanto and Crete.

The Germans, busy in the Balkans and Italy, seemingly paid little attention. But after weeks of reconnaissance and preparation, they started to recoup their losses. Last month, some 4,000 German seaborne troops recaptured Cos in the Dodecanese from a tiny garrison of...

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