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 FYROM Border Post at Nike and then other appointments including walking over the ground at Vevi, the first battle.
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 we were to conduct at 11:00 where we knew waiting for us were 2 senior Priests and the CO of the local Artillery Regiment. Having the Church and Army participating in this Service each year at Xinon Nero is proof that what we started 10 years ago was receiving so much prominence.
The Service went well, the Priests said special prayers reserved for those who had fallen in Defence of their country and they said all who had fought there were floating in the clouds and supporting our continued attendance. Very moving indeed, especially for those who had their fathers there in 1941.
After the prayers, I laid a wreath, we said the Ode and Matt Walsh played the Last Post through his computer. The Greek soldiers then sang their National Anthem and we responded with ours.
Following our Service, we bid farewell to the Priest and with the Army, poured a Bunderberg Rum for all present and then toasted the men of the 2/4th Battalion. Bundie is the Regimental drink and it was at Xinon Nero where the 2/4th climbed aboard their trucks to withdraw south.
We then moved into Florina to visit the Bishop. He is always very happy to receive us and gives us his blessing for the tour and the future. We were then met by the cook from our hotel, who escorted us up the valley passed Florina to a small village where we were guests at their May Day Celebration. The Celebration really is for spring but they hold it everywhere in Greece on the 1st May.
Local made wine, grilled meat, salads etc were heaped on us and then will the band blowing out the music, we were all invited to join the young and old in Greek Dancing, maybe this is where Zorba learned his trade.
Part of the festival is the gathering of flowers in the fields to make garlands, we proceed to raid the gardens and the bush and some garlands even stayed together. For those in Greece for the first time this will be a day to remember.
On to our hotel to prepare for another day, I wonder what it will bring??