Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

Anzac Day in Athens Tour - 15 April 2018


Kozani is now behind us as we head over the Aliakman River and up through the Servia Pass. So that we could get a perspective as to the length of the defensive position behind the village of Servia we stopped at the bridge over the Aliakman Dam where we could see across to where the defensive position was laid out. 16 and 19 Brigades were there plus 4 Brigade of the NZ Division less the NZ 5th Brigade that was holding the Germans at the Mount Olympus Pass. After they had held for the time ordered they were to join the defence at the Thermopylae line. This was to be the last main rear-guard that was intended to gain enough time for the evacuation from the beaches to be successfully undertaken.

Before leaving the area and travelling up and through the Pass we took a detour to the East that had us out to the extremity of that position and into the village of Velvendos. This village was where the men coming off Veria passed through as they made their way up to their allocated defensive positions. Even being there had them still many miles to climb. Their endurance while undertaking that move was extraordinary at the least. Our time there was much, much easier as we visited a waterfall and the water supply system supplying the area with fresh water that comes straight out of the mountains. In the main square we stopped for our coffee break and spoke to many who were doing the same following their morning at Church. Some we spoke to were actually on holiday back to their village from Australia where they now live.

We headed on our way and started our climb through this pass where many from ancient times had been doing the same. Following our trip through the pass we arrived at Elosana where firstly the Field Ambulance had been sited and the area was a logistic base for those forward and Blamey's Headquarters. The Ambulance located within the town had not been bombed but the hills surrounding the town had been heavily bombed. The monument in the town is at the site where the Field Ambulance had been located and the inscription is from a poem by Leibadites "If you want to call yourself a human you should never stop fighting for Peace and Justice". But now it was where, just a few klms north of the town at the junction where the road through Servia Pass and that through the Mount Olympus Pass met that a further strong rear-guard including the NZ Cavalry had been established to cover the withdrawal.

Our route then took us through the Olympus Pass to Katerina on the coast and on the way we discussed the actions of the 5th NZ Brigade as it halted the German thrust through the Pass. And after holding until the allotted time, withdrew through the pass and onto the the new position further south. A late lunch followed at a lovely restaurant, right on the Aegean coast at Leptokaria. This was the first time that this restaurant had been visited by any of our groups as our regular restaurant had not yet opened for the summer season. Many accommodation units, shops and restaurants do not open till mid May, but fortunately for us, some do.

We then made our way to our hotel to be met with great gusto by Domitri, the owner who is a great supporter of our tour and those who come so far to pay their respects to the men of the ANZAC Corps in Greece. Later, before and after dinner we adjourned to one of our rooms that had a large balcony and while listening to Maria Calas, Greek Opera singer of course, had a few drinks using the wine presented to us by the people of the village of Ano Komi. An excellent night for us to relax as we have had quite a few full but good days. Tomorrow we stay in the area as there is much to see and much to do.


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