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To Greece

The Germans approach Thermopylae

The Germans approach Thermopylae

ON the morning of 19 April the Germans entered Larisa but, rather surprisingly, the thrust from the north then lost its momentum for two complete days. The groups from 2 Panzer Division which had forced the Pinios Gorge and broken Allen Force were short of petrol. The force coming over Olympus Pass had been halted at Elasson by 6 Brigade and then forced to wait until its engineers had repaired the Pinios bridge outside Larisa. The units from Servia Pass had cleared the demolitions left by 4 Brigade, but they had first been blocked by the traffic from Mount Olympus and then ordered to give priority to the Luftwaffe ground staff. Consequently, it was not until late on 20 April that the advance was once more under way.

On the western flank, however, there had been swifter movement. After its repulse at Servia Pass XXXX Corps had sent detachments from 9 Panzer Division to make an outflanking movement through Grevena. They had met with little opposition and on the night of 16–17 April some were probing east towards Dheskati and others had reached the Venetikos River. Fifth Panzer Division then took over; the river was bridged, and by 18 April the advanced guard had followed Savige Force through Kalabaka to Trikkala and switched south-east through Kardhitsa towards the main highway, south of Larisa and ahead of 2 Panzer Division.

This success decided Marshal List. The double thrust was abandoned and the pursuit of W Force became the responsibility of 5 Panzer Division, whose forward units entered Lamia on the night of 20–21 April.