Military History Tours On Tour - ANZAC Day in Athens 2 May 2012
This was quite a big day that had many bumps and turns. We headed out at 0845 as we were expected at the most Northern Border Post of the Greek Army at 0915 and it was only a 30 Min trip from our hotel.
We arrived right on time to be met by the Commander, his Second-in-command, Adjutant and a squad of soldiers. 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. They were happy that it was fine weather as they have just come through a very bad winter with 30 cm of snow on the ground with temps that dropped as low as minus 27 degrees. They have their problems with refugees but hand them over to the Police.
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. This was the first of two episodes that we had today were we stretched the local customs to a breaking point. We were invited to attend the cafe in the village and to receive a gift of coffee and other drinks as a thank you for visiting the village. These cafes are MEN ONLY within the villages but our ladies were invited and stepped into the village equivalent of a men's shed!!!
All were well received and the men promised to have their ladies there to meet us next year. The same happened when we visited the village of Vevi, all the ladies into the Men's Shed!!
The first photo is the outside of the Men's Shed followed by a presentation of the history of the village from the President.
We moved on then to Vevi where we walked the ground of that famous Battle at the very start of our encounter with Germany in Greece. The 2/8th, 2/4th, 2/3rd Field Regt, Dodecanese Regiment, 21st 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 were the Rangers had vacated. This allowed the Germans to cut off many of our men.
We visited the second Men's Shed and were once again given refreshments etc as a thank you for our visit. We are the only major visit each year and the people really are very happy to have us with them, for only the short time we can afford to stay.
In the village there is a special memorial to the men of the 2/4th Bn who fought here during those dark days.
Another photo of the Men's Shed followed by our party enjoying lunch in the village of Drosopigi. The village is new and built after the War as the Germans had come in 1944 and burnt the village to the ground. The partisans had warned the villagers and all fled to the mountains, the old village was 1200 metres above sea level, so higher they went. There were a few very old people left who could not walk but the Germans killed them before burning the village. There were many such incidents during the occupation by the German Army, particularly at the end when they were done.
Lunch was excellent, special pies from the area and baked vegetables. The stinging nettles pie is a special of the village as are the mountain greens that they cook and serve cold as salad.
We finished our visit to Drosopigi with a viewing of their wonderful small museum. Then off to our hotel for a rest and well deserved drink following such a full day.