Military History Tours On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 29 April 2013
This was the day when we left the areas close to the Gulf of Corinth and headed north crossing two of the highest ranges in Greece. I have included shot of the mountains outside Delphi showing the steepness and we must also remember that our soldiers traversed like terrain as they fought their way back from the north.
One of the tablets on the wall of the alter at Delphi shows thanks to the Oracle, by a former Roman slave who, after being taken to Italy as a slave and completing a period of servitude, was released and when home again visited the Oracle to give thanks.
On our way north just before the Brallos Pass we pulled in to view a British War Cemetery of the first world war. The graves told a special story of an area where not many believe was involved in that conflict. Two issues come to mind as one views the grave markers, many are dated after the war up to January 1919 and many are of those serving in the Transport Units and even Veterinary Corps. This then was a major route of supply and was not hidden from the Flu Epidemic that followed the war. The few Russian Soldiers there gave rise to the international force that must have been working through that area. It was the first time that I had seen any Russian Soldiers in British or Commonwealth Cemeteries.
One of our aims last year was to try to locate the area, near the limekiln in the Pass where the 2/4th Bn propped following its withdrawal up the Pass from Lamia. I found the old road through the village and was fortunate that at the house that I selected to ask for information, the lady working in the garden , who was 11 years old as she saw our soldiers marching part the family cottage, not only knew where the kiln had been, but used to work in it. A major stroke of luck for Matt Walsh and i but also a happy reunion for the lady as we were the first Australians that she had met since those days in 1941. She said that she remembered the Australians as an organised group of big men who were friendly even though they moved along with the "sky black with German planes", her words.
We told her that we would return next year again to visit her and her granddaughter who had been working in the garden with her, which we did today and she was most excited and thankful to see us. Her name is Alexandra and we introduced her to the children of those who she saw in 1941. Jacqui Irvin, Desley Lamond and Wayne Finch had their father, 2/4th Inf Bn pass her and settle in the limekiln in April 1941 as the withdrew south towards the evacuation beaches. History alive!!
After leaving the valley of the Brallos Pass we started our way down the old original road the our men had climbed as they made their way to the evacuation beaches. This was the route fathers of a number of our group had travelled all those years ago.
At Domokos we were able to place the units of that blocking force known as Lee Force and take the actions through as to how it was placed and the strategic steps taken by Brigadier Lee as he carried out this task. The force did not need to fight here but further towards Lamia, Major Gunn fought a successful rear-guard action that helped gain time to allow the force to climb into the mountains.
We then headed to Kalabaka where in the morning we will visit those famous monasteries of Meteora.