Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 15 April 2019


Leaving our hotel at Kozani on our way further south to Platamon, we stopped at the northern end of the new bridge that spans the dam that is the Aliakman River to get a perspective as to the length of the defensive position behind the village of Servia. 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 that they had been ordered they started to withdraw as 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.

The Germans had tried to rush the position but had attracted many casualties and therefore were not keen to push on after the initial contact. Tim's father was there with the 2/1st Australian Machine gun company under Command of NZ 19 Bn and 20 Bn and the guns had caused many casualties amongst the German and Austrian attackers. Denise's father could have been there also as there had been much the Field Company was needed for.

We headed on our way and started our climb through this pass where many from ancient times had been doing the same. It takes over 30 minutes to clear the Pass but we didn't see much as the mist was all around us. Following our trip through the pass we arrived at Elassona where firstly the Field Ambulance had been sited and the area was a logistic base for those forward in the combat zone and Blamey's Headquarters was located there as well until he moved south. The Ambulance located within the town had not been bombed but the hills surrounding the town had been heavily bombed. 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 new position further south. A late lunch followed at a lovely restaurant, right on the Aegean coast at Leptokaria. Many accommodation units, shops and restaurants do not open till mid May, but fortunately for us, some do. It had been raining all day and the low cloud and mist precluded us being able to see the top of Mount Olympus.

We then made our way to our hotel to relax and catch up on a few things 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.


Graham Fleeton.


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