We have finally reached the top of Greece and have now turned and heading south. It has been a very good time spent up here at Florina and the walk through of the Pass at Vevi set the minds of the family with us as to how their fathers had been involved in the battle here.
So, we finished breakfast and headed south. Our first pause was to view the area at Sotir where the force had propped in a delaying defensive posture to ensure others were able to achieve a clean break. The Rangers, reduced to one company and 2 companies of 2/4 Bn were supported by Brigadier Charrington's Armoured Brigade, or what was left of it. The delay was achieved and our Force withdrew to the south of Ptolemais where a further delaying position was established.
At this point the only Tank versus Tank battle of the whole campaign took place. We stopped on the side of the road so that we could see the ground where this action took place. The Germans tried a right hook endeavouring to get into the Headquarters of the Brigade.
However, the 102 NZ anti tank gunners, with their guns mounted on the back of trucks, sped to the area and knocked out a few tanks. The Tank Squadron and the Hussars joined the fray and a number of German Tanks were put out of action. In a pause in the battle Brigadier Charrington decided to withdraw his force. The Germans were so badly mauled that they did not follow up the withdrawal. A victory but the cost was the virtual disappearance of the one small armoured force the Allied army in Greece possessed.
Our next stop was a coffee break high up on the Veria Pass. The village has been bypassed by the new expressway and is suffering a downturn but does survive in the summer supplying the shooters and shepherds. A couple of kilometres further on we stopped to view the area where one of our units had defended, before moving off towards Servia, the next delaying position.
While walking over the ground we were amazed at the number of wildflowers starting to bloom: White Crocus, Yellow Viola, Grape Hyacinths by the thousands, Orchards, Ground Isis, Forget-Me-Nots and much more.
Lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Aliakmon River Dam was next before we headed to Ano Komi which is a village that we have visited every year. We arrived at the Church and were taken inside for a briefing by the Priest even though he had lost his wife only days before.
Awaiting us down by the River near the old church were most of the families who had children at the Infants and Primary School classes. The young students showed us the local dances before inviting us all to dance with them. It was a most exhilarating experience. The dancing was followed by much food prepared for us by the women of the village.
We said our goodbyes and promised to return next year. A very tired group we were and we returned to our hotel for a drink before dinner. A great day!!
Tomorrow, Mount Olympus.