A beautiful day and we headed back to Vevi where we now entered the Pass and discussed the battle within the Pass between the German tanks and half tracks and the British gunners of the Royal Artillery, supported by the 2/1 Anti-Tank Regiment who had lost two guns and a crew in the initial action at the start of the Pass. While this was going on, the 2/8th Bn and the 2/4th Bn were making their way overland to their respective embussing points. The time gained in the Pass proved essential and allowed the infantry to obtain their clean break before dark. We drove slowly through the Pass discussing this action and there veered off onto the narrow road that winds its way through the village that is within the Pass. We were able to see where the check points would likely be that are so necessary to ensure the withdrawing unit can account for as many men as possible. Returning to the road through the Pass, we headed south to the end of the Pass and at a small Church we were able to see the route of the 2/8th withdrawal. This had been a savage battle and 2/8th had been fortunate that they were able to break from the action early and head to their embussing point, so, we then opened a bottle of Retsina and toasted the strength and fortitude of the unit as it had battled overwhelming odds all day.
Morning tea summoned us and we made our way to New Kaucus, the home of Anna, our friend of many years. Anna has a restaurant that services the village and we had cake, David didn't ask what it was this time, coffee and Shiparo before getting on the road again. On the way to visit the Army
We then headed out to Niki to visit the Army Post there that protects the route north from the Montasir Gap into Greece. The post is just north of the village of Niki and they are very happy that we visit them each year. We arrived to be met by the Regimental Commander who had come out to the Post just to meet us. Following a briefing of their duties, the location of the actual border and a ground brief, we joined them for coffee and a chat. It had been a harsh winter for them this year as they had been much snow and for many days the temperature never rose above 0° C.
After a while we said goodbye and headed south as we were to visit the Bishop back in Florina. On the way, we went back through Niki and there we saw the Storks high up on their nests. The platforms are erected by the people and installed on the electricity poles. The Storks return in spring each year and when they return, the village knows that winter is over.
The Bishop was glad to see us again after a break of 3 years due to COVID and discussions addressed all aspects of our tour, and he was pleased that we come back each year and Blessed us and wished us well.
Then we visited the Church of St George in a nearby village where our friend Anna's father was the Priest before COVID knocked him and he had to retire. There had been many frescos painted since our last meeting there and they certainly complemented our fresco of St George of Ioannina, who was a saint due to his sacrifice fighting the Ottomans in the 18th Century, that was on the wall in the Church with an inscription for the ANZACs lost in the Battle of Vevi. Also, the Saint for the Church is Saint Cosmas who was killed by the Ottomans because he would not stop his teaching to the people of the area. The Ottomans did not wish the Greek peasants to get an education. Frescos of Saint Cosmas adorn the walls of the Church.
Following our visit to the Church we went to the community hall, as last year and had lunch there with the Priest and Church Council. The lunch was a vegetarian meal as the community are still within their fasting period. The lunch was delicious and so after a couple of toasts with the local type of ouzo, we again gave a donation to the Church and after viewing one more of the Churches of the village, one with a baby Stork in the nest, we took our leave and headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved rest as after dinner we will attend the Crucifixion service at a local Church near our Hotel.
A big day spent within the local community with our friends and new friends. Being out with the local community wherever we go make this tour more special than the normal, visiting sites as a tourist. Tomorrow we head south the area around Kozani.