Military History Tours On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 2 May 2014
This was quite a big day that had many bumps and turns. We headed out at 0930 as we were expected at the most Northern Border Post of the Greek Army at Nike at 1000 and it was only a 30 Min trip.
We arrived right on time to be met by the Commander, his Second-in-Command and the soldiers of the Post. We were well received indeed and the hospitality shown to us was of the highest order. The Commander spoke and welcomed us but added that he was very pleased that we did venture further north to visit them and they really appreciated our effort.
We had a full briefing of the history of the area and the Role of the Division that is stationed here. Plus, we were given a brief of the Battle of Vevi, that battle that was the first to face the Germans here and where we stood together with the Greek Battalions.
Many photos followed, special, group and presentation. We left them following refreshments and cake.
Not many kilometres from the outpost we visited a small village off the main road to Florina. On arrival we were met and shown the Church. At the Church there was a memorial to those from the village who had been lost in both the 1912-22 War against the Turks and the 2nd World War. At this site we held a small ceremony and Matt Walsh, assisted by Aaron Melbourne, played the Last Post and Greek National Anthem. We were invited to attend the cafe in the village and to receive a gift of coffee, other drinks and food as a thank you for visiting the village.
There is an old lady living in the village who came out and told us about her time during and after the War. There is a photo here of her and her husband in uniform fighting for the Partisans against the Germans. She was 13 when she first took up arms against the Germans, with her 3 brothers. They lived in the mountains and she said they lived like dogs, cold in the snow and always hungry.
As the time moved on she found herself in the Civil War where the Partisans were fighting the Royalists who had returned from exile. The Partisans, who mostly were Communists, were defeated and she fled to Yugoslavia to stop being imprisoned. The Partisans were then sent to Russia where they lived for 37 years, working factories. She said there were many factories. They also lived in Uzbekistan and Czechoslovakia while behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1984 they returned to Greece but 40 days later her husband died, from his war injuries. During the conflict he was shot with 20 bullets entering his body and some too close to his heart for an operation.
Following our visit we headed on to Vevi where we walked the ground of that famous Battle which was our first against the Germans in Greece. The 2/8th, 2/4th, 2/3rd Field Regt, Dodecanese Regiment, 1/88th Greek Regt and others stood here to meet the German Division as it burst it's way out of Yugoslavia. Outnumbered and outgunned, the units put up an excellent show to keep the Germans at bay until the allotted withdrawal time. We had quite a few men taken prisoner here when the Germans pushed through where the Rangers had vacated. This allowed the Germans to cut off many of our men. The Rangers withdrew a distance before realising that the 2/8th had not been overrun and the Rangers then reformed in the Pass.
Both the 2/4th and 2/8th withdrew behind the feature and were then trucked to further holding positions a few miles south of the exit from the Pass. In the village there is a special memorial to the men of the 2/4th Bn who fought here during those dark days. We proceeded through the Pass discussing the action and then headed to Kilinti, the small village in the Pass. That name means jaws of the Pass. We then returned to our hotel in Florina for tomorrow we head south to Kozani.