The Italians torpedoed “Elli” as an attempt to drag Greece into the war
The torpedoing of Greek light cruiser (warship) Elli is actually considered as the first action of World War II in Greece. Elli was purchased by the Greek government in 1914, right after the Balkan Wars, where the country had won. Elli saw action in the First World War and during the Asia Minor Expedition, where she had lead the Greek fleet in victory. In 1920, along with Greek warship Averof, she went under reconstruction in France and obtained modern technology.
Although cruiser Elli had so many victories at war, it sunk in times of peace. On August 15th, 1940, Elli had anchored in the port of Tinos to participate in the celebrations for the biggest religious festival on the island, the Dormition of the Virgin. As the church of Tinos is considered as the protector of all Greece, this festival was very important for the nation.
At 8.25 am, while 10,000 pilgrims were concentrated at the church of the Dormition of the Virgin, close to the port, a torpedo hit the operating boiler of Elli and caused fire. This upset the pilgrims and the crew of the ship, who were getting ready to get off the vessel and participate in the celebrations. Nine officers and sailors were killed and 24 were wounded.