Military History Tours On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 5 May 2013
Last night several members of the tour attended the special Church Service at midnight which celebrates the resurrection and then signals the end of the fasting period.
Paper lanterns were floated high into the night sky by way of a candle fixed underneath. It was most spectacular and maybe it would be a good extra at the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli??
We started the day by visiting the Platamon castle that guarded the main pass through the Pinios Gorge and on to southern Greece. It was built by the Franks in the 12th Century when they controlled a vast majority of Greece. However, they only held it for 15 years until the Greeks conquered the area back. 70 years later the Ottomans conquered the area and did not demolish the castle walls as was the norm, but reinforced and repaired many times to provide defence against raiders, mostly pirates.
The castle is being slowly restored and as it was the area of the battle on 14-16 April 1941, was damaged slightly but as the NZ 21 Bn did not put troops in it or use it for observation it was only lightly shelled and spared. We left the castle and moved outside where we could see to the north and see the tunnel that went under the main feature. At that stage Graham Fleeton explained the fabulous holding defence of the 21st NZ Bn of the 5th Brigade. The 700 men of the unit which included a troop of artillery fought and held the 3rd Panzer, Motor Cycle Bn and a Division of Mountain troops from 14th till they withdrew on the 16th into new positions in the Gorge where they met the 2/2 Bn and between them organised a defence of the Gorge that was to defer the German advance until the 18th.
Moving through the Gorge ourselves we stopped at the fountain, crossed the pedestrian bridge over a fast flowing Pinios River then we have a couple of photos showing the angry Pinios River. After proceeding through the Gorge, we went to Gonnas and discussed the advance of the Germans and their crossing of the river.
The river that was then known as the River of Blood to the German command. The presentation was given in a detailed manner and all seemed to appreciate having such a presentation giving on the ground where the action had occurred. We then proceeded further into the area where the 2/2 Battalion were located. There was a bridge here as was in 1941 but was blown by 2/1 Engineers and adjacent was the punt that had also been disabled by the engineers. Chris Richards was able to stand next to the actual punt that his father disabled all those years ago. Also in the photograph is Ian Long because his father had crossed the river as part of the 2/3rd Battalion as they moved into position behind the 2/1st Battalion.
Following a very successful morning on the battlefields we headed to lunch in the ravine where we had lunch yesterday. The proprietor wouldn't normally opened on Easter Sunday but did and brought his family to have lunch with us. A Greek Easter Sunday lunch, traditional with lamb on a spit, music and dancing. It was really good being able to share the day with the family.
Leaving the ravine we headed up the side of Mt Olympus for afternoon tea in a most traditional village.