Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Withdrawal to the Olympus-Aliakmon line

As General Mackay and the Greeks fought a rearguard action, the Australians and New Zealand Division withdrew on the Aliakmon-Olympus line. The New Zealand Division had made the move as early as 10 April 1941. They left the divisional cavalry forward, with armoured cars and bren carriers and supported by field artillery. They made a fighting withdrawal as they were pressed. They pulled back about ten miles behind an anti-tank ditch. As the Germans brought forward infantry and tanks, the cavalry regiment withdrew to Olympus. As all this occurred, the 16th Australian Brigade had been withdrawing towards Servia. As the terrain was mountainous, they were reduced to using donkeys and had to discard, burn, or otherwise destroy equipment and supplies. They marched towards the Aliakmon under very difficult conditions, with snow and mud. By 6am on 13 April, they were four miles from the Aliakmon. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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