Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

To Greece

The Transfer of 16 Australian Brigade to Pinios Gorge

The Transfer of 16 Australian Brigade to Pinios Gorge

By this time the disturbing reports which had been sent back that morning by 21 Battalion had convinced General Blamey that reinforcements must be sent to the Pinios Gorge. As 17 Brigade had been absorbed by Savige Force at Kalabaka and by Lee Force at Dhomokos, his only available reserve was 16 Brigade, which had marched the 35 miles from Veroia to Servia and then gone into position in the mountains to the east of the pass. The 2/1 Battalion on the right flank was in a world of snow and precipices about 5000 feet above sea level; 2/2 Battalion was south-east of Moskhokhori; and 2/3 Battalion was in reserve to the south of that village. On 15 April they were, like 6 New Zealand Brigade,1 to have come down from the mountains, but the difficulty of getting messages through to them and the absence of any roads other than bridle tracks had postponed their withdrawal until the morning of 16 April when 2/2 Battalion, the first2 out, had reached the highway south of Servia Pass about 10 a.m.

Here they had embussed and were about to move to the Zarkos area3 when a liaison officer appeared with orders for Lieutenant- Colonel Chilton to report to Headquarters Anzac Corps. There he was told that the last signal from 21 Battalion had been most alarming and that Brigadier Clowes, who had been sent to find out what had happened to the battalion, had not yet returned. Chilton had therefore to hold the western entrance to the Pinios Gorge for ‘possibly three or four days.’4 To support his battalion there would be a battery of field artillery, a troop of three anti-tank guns and the carriers from two battalions.

The Pinios Gorge Action, 17–18 April 1941

The Pinios Gorge Action, 17–18 April 1941

1 See p. 227.

2 22/3 Battalion reached the highway at midnight 16–17 April; 2/1 Battalion struggled out along the Fteri-Livadhion track to Olympus Pass and came under the control of 6 Australian Division.

3 See p. 228.

4 Long, p. 97.

page 253

Chilton then hastened southwards. Outside Larisa he met Brigadier Clowes, who told him that 21 Battalion had already withdrawn into the gorge, and at Tempe he found Lieutenant- Colonel Macky, who described the positions now occupied by his battalion. As it was then dark they arranged to meet early next morning to discuss the deployment of their forces.

Before then General Blamey, still worried about the situation, had decided to strengthen the force still further and to place it under the command of Brigadier Allen. So when that officer reported to Headquarters Anzac Corps at 2 a.m. that night, 17 April, he learnt that he was to command a brigade group, the final strength of which would be 2/2 and 2/3 Australian Battalions, 21 New Zealand Battalion, 26 Battery 4 New Zealand Field Regiment, L Troop 7 New Zealand Anti-Tank Regiment, three guns of 1 Australian Anti-Tank Regiment, four carriers from 2/11 Australian Battalion and seven from 2/1 Australian Battalion. His instructions, given ‘with the aid of a map and a torch’,1 were to prevent the Germans entering Larisa from the east. As his first move he met 2/3 Battalion, still coming down from the mountains, and sent it on to the Pinios area. The 2/1 Battalion which was still withdrawing along the Fteri-Livadhion track became divisional reserve.

1 Report on operations in Greece, 16 Australian Infantry Brigade.