Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

To Greece

Allen Force completes its Defences, Night 17–18 April

Allen Force completes its Defences, Night 17–18 April

Across the river Allen Force was attempting to improve its defences. The platoons of 21 Battalion on the rocky ridges and the Australians on the flat were all digging slit trenches or erecting stone shelters. In the late afternoon the senior commanders had decided to move the Australian anti-tank guns farther forward, to use two of the 25-pounders in an anti-tank role and to crater the road at a point where it could be covered by artillery fire. The moves were made and that evening 2/1 Australian Field Company, using naval depth-charges, blew1 a shallow crater forward of Tempe below the central spur held by 21 Battalion. A minefield or an anti-tank ditch from there to the river would have been better but the engineers had neither the time nor the equipment for such a task.

The Germans with their pack animals were already descending the ridges south of Mount Olympus. An Australian patrol which had secured a punt was therefore sent over after dark to investigate. It reported that the enemy was already in Gonnos, that some detachments were moving west towards Elia and that the men left guarding the punt had successfully driven off a German patrol.

The gunners were active all through the night. They opened fire when lights were seen moving on the hills above Gonnos and, at regular intervals between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., they shelled the areas about the tunnel and the road block. In the narrow gorge the detonations echoed viciously, the Germans afterwards reporting that the shells ‘crashed in quick succession in the tank laager. Branches and stones fell from the hillsides. Everybody jumped for cover behind, under and in the tanks to escape the splinters. Here and there a man who had not escaped cried for help …. The MO had a lot of work to do, for there were dead and wounded on both sides of the Pinios.’2 In this one action I/3 Panzer Regiment and the covering patrols from 8/800 Brandenburg Regiment had three killed and seventeen wounded.3

1 See p. 319.

2 Report by 3 Panzer Division.

3 Report by I/3 Panzer Division.