We have reached to top of Greece and were staying at one of the hotels closest to the Border with FYROM, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. This is a Slav Nation and they use Macedonia as their Name but even though many recognise it, Greece doesn't as Macedonia was always Greek and not Slav. So, the Diplomatic chats go on, I suppose it is as important to both countries in lieu of economic issues etc as ours at present is to many rubbish side issues that I can but weill not detail here as everyone knows what they are.
Now, as we had reached the top, the next of course is down and we headed south towards Kozani where we will stay tonight. We passed through Ptolemais where we discussed the actions of the Armoured Brigade against the German armour. It was here that the Armoured Brigade fought their finest battle and the only tank versus tank battle of the campaign. The battle finished in favour of the Armoured Brigade led by the 3rd Royal Tanks, 4th Hussars, 102 Anti-Tank Regt, 27 NZ Machine gun Battalion and the Rangers. Mobility was the key and as the Germans tried a right hook around where they had first been stopped all of the 1 Armoured Brigade vehicles, including the anti-armour mounted on trucks raced to intercept which they did and surprised the German Force. Many of the German Tanks were knocked out as was many support vehicles. Many of the 30 German tanks were knocked out and as Brigadier withdrew his force, there was no follow up by the Germans.
Due to mechanical faults mainly, the Armoured Brigade was very depleted but had done a marvellous job holding the rearguard. We ourselves withdrew form that action and continued south to Kozani and there swung East towards Veria. The Veria Pass was being held by 16 Brigade to cover any enemy incursions from that flank but as the main withdrawal had crossed the Aliakman River the Brigade started to withdraw off the high range, down into the valley and further to the crossing point over the river. It was an incredible feat to withdraw partly in the dark from such a high position by going straight over the top and then over the next range before dropping down again into the Aliakman Valley. But do it they did.
At the top near the Pass we stopped and stood where they had been prior to heading off on their route and we had a toast for the men of the 16th Brigade. Photographs just do not show the height and steepness of the country they traversed.
Before we retraced our steps to our lunch stop at Kesaria, which is on the very high ground overlooking the new bridge over the Aliakman Lake, we called into a small village on the mountain side, with its complement of friendly dogs and one cat, to have a coffee to wash down the cheese pie that we had eaten up on the position. The friendly people in the café were happy to see us but it is sad that the National Road that was completed in 2015 means that the road through their village, which was the only way through the pass before, only has traffic to the Monastery and each year us!
Lunch was excellent as it always was and many of us had the trout, a good choice. The restaurant is located high above the lake and has views across to Servia and the Servia Pass. We will be travelling through the Pass tomorrow on our way to Platamon. Dinner will be served at 1900 as following dinner we will head out to Ano Komi and join the village for their Easter Celebrations.
Following dinner in our hotel we proceeded to Ano Komi, the village where we were to take part in the Easter Service. As we entered the village we were met by many people milling around outside the Church. We went into the Church and stayed until the end of the Service. Outside there were many candles alight and the symbolic coffin of Jesus was brought out to the street and then the procession commenced.
There were children of all ages in the procession all with their respective candle alight. The procession went around the village and concluded back outside the Church from where it started. Our group then went, as guests of the community committee, to their local tavern where we consumed a couple of beers before heading back to our hotel.