Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 17 April 2017


Tonight we were on board our ferry to Crete but first we had to travel from Platamon to Athens, around 600 kilometres. We left Platamon at 0900 and headed south passing through the new tunnel that takes you past the Pinios Gorge defile. The tunnel only opened this year and is the longest tunnel in Greece, 7 km long.

Our first stop was at Thermopylae where we discussed the 2 battles that had occurred there but centuries apart. The first being the defence of Athens by the Spartan 300 and the 700 Thespians fighting the Persians in 480 BC. The Athenians were with the Spartans and Thespians and holding the Persians but typically a turncoat was given money to change sides and told the Persians of the track that would take them around the blocking fighters. Once the Spartan's Commander heard of this he told the Athenians to go to Athens and set up a defensive line there while he and the Thespians held the Persians for as long as they could.

The 1000 were overwhelmed by the Persians and all killed. The Athenians returned to Athens and set in place a defensive line at Corinth below Athens as that was the best strategic place to do so. As well they prepared their boats for an attack on the Persian fleet. The Persians sacked Athens but were then beaten in the following naval battle.

The next battle was in 1941 when the Germans were heading down towards Athens and the Allied force was withdrawing to the evacuation beaches. The Thermopylae position was not as narrow as it was in 480BC but still afforded a funnelling of the attackers into a small area. The huge German Force arrived and were blocked by the NZ Division supported by many Artillery Regiments. Many tanks were knocked out and the defence held for most of the day against huge numbers of German tanks and men. Finally the defence achieved a clean break and made south towards the evacuation beaches. The Germans had many casualties and therefore did not follow up or pursue the withdrawing force.

After discussing the various actions we headed back towards Lamia where we had lunch. Following lunch, we headed south again with Marathon being our aim but on the way we stopped for a coffee break at a restaurant located adjacent to the dam wall of the first dam built to supply water to Athens. The special coffee with cream on top was really nice and a bit decadent, but we enjoyed it anyway. We called in to Marathon and discussed the ancient battle and then moved on to the Athens evacuation beaches.

It had started raining so we pushed on to our dinner date in Piraeus before boarding our ferry. It was a tiring day for all so a beer on the back deck of the Ferry seemed reasonable and the off to bed.


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