We headed further North this morning towards the site of that first clash with the German Forces on 10 April 1941. We will be in Florina tonight where we will be staying 2 nights as tomorrow we venture to the Border Post at Niki and then other appointments.
On the way we passed over the upper reaches of the Aliakman River, more famous further down stream as our force blew the bridge on the withdrawal to Servia. Our aim was to arrive at Xinon Nero for a special service that was programmed to commence at 1200. We arrived at 1145 and we were greeted by Greek Officials comprising, the Bishop, the Mayor of Florina, The Minister of Northern Greece, The Lord Prefect of Macedonia and Thrace, Mr Christos Gandas The Australian Honorary Consul from the Consulate, 2 Brigadiers General with the Army Band and full guard. It was a huge surprise that the event, which we had been involved in planning, was receiving so much prominence.
Shortly after the travelling Parliamentarians from the Victorian and South Australian Parliaments, led by Mr John Pandazopoulos MP arrived. This group had previously been to Lemnos, Gallipoli and Salonica where they are fostering Greek and Australian Relationships relating to those areas over two periods of War where Australians and Greeks had fought side by side.
The Service was excellent, the Bishop said prayers for those lost, wreaths were then laid, the Hymn "Abide with me" was played by our Cornet player, Boyd Trevithick and then he played the Last Post and Reveille. A very moving moment for Desley, Jacqui and Wayne as they laid a wreath for their father who had served here as part of the 2/4th Battalion. The Band then played the New Zealand, Australian and Greek National Anthems. Our group sang very well to all three as they had the words on our previously prepared programme.
Our coach was then given a Police Escort to the next part of the official ceremonies. This was held in a major function centre in Florina. Drinks on arrival follow by official speeches of welcome, a presentation on the Battle of Kleidi, we know it as the action at Vevi, responses by John Pandazapoulos MP and Graham. This formal part was followed by a luncheon and then we proceeded to our hotel for the start of our stay here.