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World War 2 - Greece lights the candle of hope

Discussion in 'GD Archive' started by Ex-RoNiN, 14 Dec 2002.

  1. Ex-RoNiN


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,354

    On the 27nd of October, 1940, the Italian government handed an ultimatum over to Greece, one which allowed no compromise, but only "either they would accept the occupation or the invasion would be carried out".

    On the next day, the Greek people left their houses and filled the streets of Athens and other major cities, and all the crowds cried in a thundering voice the same word: OXI - NO!

    Soon after, the word started spreading - the Italians were invading. Everyone raced to nearby army bases to volunteer while the population got ready to assist their armed forces in what they thought would be the struggle of two historic titans.

    In reality, Italy's army was one of the 5 most modern armies in the world at the time, while Greece's military was shabby at best - underfunded, overaged, still suffering from the fall-out of the Greek-Turkish war in the 1920's.

    On that fateful day of the Italian Invasion, telegrams from abroad were received, wishing Greece luck, success and expressing the deepest sympathy. A few excerpts:

    - George VI of England: "Your affairs are our affairs";
    - Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England. "Italy has found her threats useless against your calm courage";
    - Even Turkey, and the whole of its Press, was exultant: "Long live Greece". On 29th October, the newspaper "Ikdam" wrote: "We are proud to be joined in an alliance with such a nation"; and the "Vakit" referred to Greece as "unmemorable example of bravery for the whole world".

    "Giulia", the selected Italian Division, launched an assault against Greece at the steep mountain peaks of Northern Pindos, to make a quick advance to Ioannina, as the Italian General Staff believed and facilitate "the convenient promenade" of the rest of the Italian divisions to Athens. The surprise, though, of Mussolini’s "brave" quickly changed into disappointment, when the entrenched Hellenic soldiers at the guard posts did not provide them the kind of receptions they wished, but heavy counter fire instead. What sort of reception did they expect anyway?

    The Epirus Division bore the complete burden of the defense; it was the one, which alone among the Great Powers had the luck and the honour to defend the integrity of the country, its main mission being "the coverage of central Greece, to the direction of Ioannina "Zigos Metsovou" and the secondary "the defense of national ground". This Division, carrying out Major General Haralambos Katsimitros’ decision, did not abandon the forward defense line and fought there, without ceding an inch of national ground.

    It would be a neglect not to refer to the essential assistance offered to be struggle by the heroic detachment of Colonel Davakis, that vigorously defending with a few poorly equipped soldiers, who displayed, though, exceptional self-sacrifice and courage, repelled the successive attacks of the enemy, offering at the same time valuable time to the Hellenic Army to assemble its forces and counter offense expelling the invaders beyond the Albanian borderline, at the historic ground of Northern Epirus.

    On 1st November, during the counter offense launched by the heroic Pindos Detachment the Line "Giftissa-Oxia" was recaptured three Italian officers and two hundred twenty two (222) enlisted men were captured, whereas one hundred and forty (140) animals came in possession of the Hellenic groups as well as a large quantity of supplies; it was there however that the first Hellenic officer, Alexandros Diakos, fell leaving his last breath.

    On 14th November, the Hellenic counter-offensive began along the front advancing to Albania. The successive capture of cities and villages of Northern Epirus occupied the first pages of the free press, in Great Britain and the United States of America and other countries, whereas at the same time Central Europe was under the foot on the German Army, that had already captured Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Netherlands and almost half of France.

    Suddenly, Greece became the focus of the worldwide Public Opinion. Greece became the breakwater against the horror and the general belief of the European peoples, that the victory of the iron- clad and armed to the teeth nazis and fascist armies was certain. Greece became a candle of hope in a sea of fascist darkness.

    By early 1941, Italy had retreated to Tirana with Greece building up the pressure, despire severe shortcomings of supplies and ammunitions. On April 14, 1941, the Manchester Guardian wrote: "From now on we won’t claim that the Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks." Events in Yugoslavia also turned in favour for Greece, with Peter II being proclaimed king and publicly stating to stand side by side with Greece to remove the fascist threat from the Balkans.

    This common Greek-Yugoslavian plan, however, was not implemented, since Germany put into effect operation "Marita". On Sunday 6 April 1941 the German attack against Greece started, simultaneously with an ultimatum delivered to the Hellenic administration, emphasizing that the purpose of the German action was to throw the British out of Greece. But, faith to the right and the just of the national pursues multiplied again mental strength, giving the country the ability to rise against the German army, though it was humanly impossible, despite the Hellenic resistance, to face the superior German abilities.

    General Baumme, that himself conducted the battle near Perithori, could not believe his own eyes when he saw only 120 Hellenic soldiers at Perithori having captured 300 German prisoners.

    The morning of 27 April the first German troops entered Athens, heading to the Acropolis to fly the flag. That very moment the State Athens Radio Station was emitting the last free broadcast: "Greek citizens, in a few moments this station will cease being Hellenic... Brothers, keep your hearts high..."

    And thus Greece had to succumb to overwhelming fascist pressure at long last. She managed to show the rest of the world that the fight against the Axis was winnable, however, and therefore was instrumental in keeping the spirits amongst the allies high.
  2. nutcase


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 7,625

    Location: SX, unfortunately

    Most interesting :) I've been reading a history of WWII,a nd that's tied in nicely :)
  3. Ex-RoNiN


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,354

    Glad someone liked it :)

    I might do something about the battle for crete soon methinks, but if the response will be the same as it was for this thread, then I think I won't :(
  4. endeavour

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 1,227

    Location: London

    Nice post, very informative :)
  5. |penance|


    Joined: 2 Dec 2002

    Posts: 119

    Location: Bristol

    very interesting m8

    im reading about the north africa campaigns atm, due to my grand dad being in the desert rats.
  6. nutcase


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 7,625

    Location: SX, unfortunately

    Oh I'd definitely be interested in that cos I went there this year :) Ok, so all I saw was bars n things, but I'd still be interested :) IIRC htere was quite a balltefield for heraklion airfield (as it was then)?
  7. Carzy


    Joined: 21 Nov 2002

    Posts: 8,313

    Location: a

    Very interesting post m8, thx. Just shows you to keep going, after all we won the war against the odds because we kept morale high.
  8. MoratJG


    Joined: 2 Nov 2002

    Posts: 2,835

    an oft forgotten aspect of WWII

    the war in the Med was vital to Allied victory and the ppl there suffered greatly. without the Med we would have lost the war in Africa and that would have meant supply lines through Turkey and the Balkans would have been cut, this in turn would have been disasterous for the Eastern Front which basically took so much German manpower Europe was relatively easy to take.

    there are lots of these threads posted and i always try to reply because it is important that war is not glamorised by movies. the fact that it is still remembered and discussed almost sixty years after the fact shows us the impact of war.

    we will remember.
  9. Roughneck


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,557

    Location: Aberdeen

    When the Germans had to invade Yugoslavia

    it put there invasion of Russia back 6 weeks

    which most historians agree cost them the war in Russia
  10. MindYerBeak


    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,328

    The Greeks have always been famed for their heroes, boasting lots of national pride. Their stance helped instill more national pride in us.
  11. Brwmogazos


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,064

    Location: HELLAS


    Nice one m8 ;)
  12. vitet

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 5 Nov 2002

    Posts: 1,308

    Location: Cambridge

    most interesting.