The Battle of Pinios Gorge. Prior to proceeding to the area we called in to the actual Gorge for a coffee and a visit to the Chapel and spring. Also, we climbed up to the abandoned railway, that the Germans used to drive their tanks through the Gorge, found the old railway tunnel and walked through it before descending back to the river bank. A few presents were bought at the stalls there before we headed to Gonas to view the area where the Germans burst out of the mountains to attack across the Pinios River.
Their attack was unsuccessful there as they came across the guns of the 2/2nd Battalion and suffered heavy casualties. After the battle the Germans called the Pinios, the River of Blood.
A major fire fight developed as the tanks fought their way out of the Gorge and fanned out across the open ground. The Field Regiment's fire caused many tanks to be stopped as did the anti tank gunners fire until they were overrun. The battle raged for most of the day, but the firepower of the 2/2 and 2/3 Battalions supported by the gunners and the Bren Gun Carriers caused many casualties for the Germans and they became somewhat cautious and did not press the attack.
The NZ 21 Battalion was cut off and retired over the mountain and many in the 2/2nd Battalion also were bypassed by the tanks and cut off. Those who were cut off were gathered together by Major P Cullen, 200 plus and headed to the coast near Karitsa. An adventurous episode over many days finally had most land on Crete on 5th May after island hoping and help from Greek ship owners.
Those not cut off continued the fight and after a fighting withdrawal were able to obtain a clean break, with the help of nightfall and made their way further south to Brallos and beyond.
It was then time for lunch and we were fortunate that our friend who owns the restaurant in the little grove opened just for our visit. The restaurant will not open fully for 2 weeks. A wonderful grill was shared by all.
After that lunch we moved up the mountain to the wonderful village of Pantelemonas high in the mountains for our coffee and ouzo while we listened to Ian Heard tell us how he found about the military history of the father whom he never knew. Ian was born after his father was killed in New Guinea. It was a very moving tale and much appreciated by our group. Free time then in the village before heading for home.
Tomorrow we head south finally to Athens as tomorrow night we sail to Crete, just as our troops did in 1941.