On the night of the 3rd May we were invited to a Taverna at Ano Komi, just south of Kozani. The youth Cultural Group from Ano Komi were our hosts and the night was filled with traditional dancing to the accompaniment of the Greek Band. It was an excellent night as our party had joined in the Greek dancing and we did not leave the venue until after midnight.
In the morning we boarded our coach as we again set off further south towards Larissa. We left our hotel proceeded towards the Servia Pass that we encountered after we crossed the Aliakman River on the longest bridge in Greece. The position was high up on the mountain and was very hazardous for tired troops who had been on the move for over 24 Hours. This defensive position was over 15 miles across and had the 2/4 Bn in the mountains, 1300 metres high, with 2/1 Bn on the eastern flank near Pteri, also in the mountains. Between these units was the, 26 NZ Bn,20 NZ Bn, 19 NZ Bn, 18NZ Bn, 2/2 Bn, 2/3 Bn and the depleted 2/8 Bn was in reserve further back in the pass. The NZ 6th Field Regt, 2/2 Field Regt and the 2/3 Field Regt were in support and played an important role in the actions that followed. After we discussed the many issues confronting the commanders at all levels we continued on our way and our route took us to Elasson where there was a medical installation that sent the Field Ambulance forward from here. The hills surrounding the town and some parts of the town were bombed but the Germans put smoke on the site to ensure it wasn’t bombed in error. This was a refreshment stop for we were about to head through the pass towards the Aegean Sea.
As we proceeded through the pass we discussed the disposition of the 5th NZ Bde as it had the responsibility of blocking movement towards Larissa from this approach. This force did its job well and held back the Germans until the appointed withdrawal timing.
We arrived at Katerini a relative new town from the Greek perspective as it started in 1922 following the expulsion of Greeks from the areas won by Atatürk, the Turkish Commander. The Greeks who were expelled from Asian Minor selected the site for their settlement. Once on the coast we headed to Platamon for lunch in a small ravine that backs into the base of Mt Olympus.
Tomorrow we will visit the area of the action by the NZ 21st Bn and the action at the Pinios Gorge.
The video below shown our tour guests being interviewed on Greek Television
The video below shows our tour group dancing at the Ano Komi Tavern.