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To Greece

The German Occupation of Molos

The German Occupation of Molos

At that time—about midnight 24–25 April—the Germans at Thermopylae had been preparing yet another attack. The forward company of tanks had been roughly handled but the rest of I/31 Panzer Regiment had been rushed forward to relieve it. The commander, who had received no other orders, was not eager to risk the dangers of a night attack but Baacke, the infantry captain, was still aggressive. He sent his companies forward and they reported that Molos was clear of British troops. The tanks soon advanced but there was no immediate rush in pursuit of 6 Brigade; the German plans at this stage did not go beyond the capture of Molos and the movement forward of the main body from Lamia.

When the campaign was over the German commanders began a paper war in which infantry and armour competed for the battle honours. Baacke, the infantry captain, was awarded the Knight's page 399 Cross to the Iron Cross; his divisional commander grudgingly admitted that the tanks had ‘arrived just at the right time to exert a favourable influence on the advance guard's attack.’1 The commander of 5 Panzer Regiment declared that I/31 Panzer Regiment had broken through ‘the foremost enemy gun positions and fought the second line of guns to a standstill so that the enemy lost many killed, wounded and PW and fled from the position after nightfall. Not until nightfall when the fighting was over, did the advance guard of the mountain division (cyclists) appear and clear Molos.’2 The heated argument even reached the level of Army Headquarters. More important to 6 New Zealand Brigade and the supporting artillery was the fact that they had been able to make a smooth withdrawal and that ‘out of 18 tanks in the action 12 were total losses, and … out of 70 men (all ranks) 7 were killed and 22 wounded.’3 The 1/61 Anti-Aircraft Regiment and 704 Heavy Infantry Gun Company had between them four killed and seven wounded. Baacke Group had lost 15 killed and 48 wounded, mainly from shellfire.

1 6 Mtn Div to XVIII Corps, 16 Sep 1941.

2 5 Pz Div Comd to XXXX Corps Comd, 26 Apr 1941.

3 Ibid.