Military History Tours On Tour - ANZAC Day in Athens 29 April 2012
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 as the first photo a shot of the mountain outside Delphi showing the zig zagging track up the mountain that the shepherds take as they move their flocks from the winter valleys to the summer heights. We must also remember that our soldiers traversed like terrain as they fought their way back from the north.
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 tp 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 this tour was to try to locate the area, near the limeciln 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 14 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 will return next year again to visit her and her granddaughter who had been working in the garden with her. 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. Barbara Jennings and her daughter Julie were able to stand on the actual road where Barbra’s father and Julie's Grandfather, Bently Herbert, had walked as he climbed up the Pass all those years ago.
I also show the general bush on the pass and the wonderful Lilac Bushes that grow in the area. 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. The building shown was in fact the old Mayor’s Offices and used as the Lee Force HQ.
The square outside the Mayor's office followed by a photo showing a part of the town before we were taken to the new vineyard and magnificent stone structure where the grapes are turned into something special, wine!! The Mayor and Deputy Mayors make us welcome each year and it is difficult to get away from the hospitality that they want to show us, even sending us away with 5 litres of grappa. The grappa is a very strong liqueur that has a high alcohol percentage and one only drinks it a thimble at a time, I am looking for bigger thimbles so that we can at least show some justice to such a present.
We were finally able to excuse ourselves from the vineyard but not from that hospitality as the Deputy Mayors insisted we stop in the town for them to buy all a farewell coffee. This we did under the shade of huge trees near the cafe. On the way to the cafe we passed through this very small village on the high plains of Domokos. Domokos is 66 metres above sea level and is completely under snow in winter so when spring hits, so does life.
We then headed to Kalabaka where in the morning we will visit those famous monasteries of Meteora.