Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Response to the German advance into Greece and Yugoslavia

 8 April 1941 saw the Greek army in Albania resume an attack. The Yugoslav army also attacked, but without much success. The Greek commander ordered the attack to stop, because of the concern about what was happening in southern Yugoslavia. General Papagos was concerned that a German advance into the Monastir Gap would pose a threat to the rear of the Greek "Western Macedonian Army" in Albania. It might even threaten General Wilson's army in the rear. General Papagos ordered the troops in the mountains "north of the Edessa Pass" to move to Lake Vegorritis. That would put them close to the British. The left of the British army could be linked to the right side of the Western Macedonian Army. The Greek Cavalry Division would be the link. The Greek Commander was trying to send orders to the British commanded by General Wilson, but Wilson "made his own plans and issued his own orders".

As early as 11am on 8 April, Wilson held a meeting at Blamey's headquarters. He planned to assemble a force to try and stop the German "blitz" "down the Florina Gap". The Australian General Mackay would command the new force. He would be "directly under Wilson's command". At the beginning, he would have the Australian 19th Brigade (of two battalions), the 2/3rd Field Regiment, a detachment that included the 3rd RTR, 27th New Zealand MG Battalion, the 2nd RHA, the 64th Medium Regiment, and the 2/1st Australian Anti-Tank Regiment. The Australian historian thought it was inadequate force to try and stop the main German attack.

In this meeting, they decided that the 6th Australian Division needed to not to replace the 12th Greek Division at Veria. They would treat the Olympus-Vermion-Amindaion as simply a rear-guard position. Blamey would command the New Zealand Division, the 16th Australian Brigade, and the 12th Greek Division. They would go ahead and send the 4th New Zealand Brigade "to the Servia Pass". The New Zealand Division would keep their strength south of Katerini. They 6th New Zealand Brigade would "withdraw through the 5th New Zealand Brigade in the Olympus Pass". This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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