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To Greece

Units Continue to Arrive

Units Continue to Arrive

Throughout this period the remaining units of the Division were steadily coming up from Athens, but the order of their arrival had not been intelligently planned by those who had arranged the embarkation. The Divisional Postal Section, for instance, had an office at Hymettus Camp by 15 March, another at Voula by 20 March and one at Katerini by 24 March. As early as 21 March the Divisional Provost Section was at Kalokhori and the Field Punishment Centre at Katerini. The Headquarters staff, on the other hand, owing to their late departure from Egypt and to the delays of the storm period, made a very late arrival. ‘For fifteen days I had only two Staff officers in Greece, my GSO I and AA & QMG, who had travelled across with me.’1

Divisional Signals arrived at Katerini on 25 March; until then there had been no signals office at Divisional Headquarters. J Section which had travelled with 4 Brigade had, however, established communication with Athens by the civil lines and requisitioned the line between Palionellini and Katerini. K Section with 5 Brigade had built up a system in the Mount Olympus area. And now with the assistance of W Force Signals it was possible to complete the divisional signals system before the invasion of Greece.

As there was always the possibility of the civil lines being tapped, the Field Security Section, after its appearance on 27 March, checked civilians and watched for any fifth-column activities. In all calls to Athens a high-grade cipher was used and, for messages within the area, there were twenty-seven typewritten pages of codenames for units, places, equipment and supplies. Some interruptions were due to breaks within the cable ‘plainly made by pounding the wire between two stones.’ Others were due to the needs of the local peasantry. One shepherd by tethering his bell wether with a length of cable caused a full-scale field security spy hunt. The wireless sets, apart from some test exercises, were not used for there had to be complete wireless silence until operations began. Consequently, the Divisional Cavalry Regiment when it was sent forward to the Aliakmon River used its No. 11 sets for nothing other than daily test calls.

1 General Freyberg, Report on the New Zealand Division in Greece, p. 8. See p. 123.

page 148

The units of the New Zealand Army Service Corps were about Katerini before and after the arrival of Divisional Headquarters. Until 25 March the troops had dry rations, but once Headquarters New Zealand Army Service Corps arrived at Kalokhori1 a Greek officer assisted the Requisitioning Officer to purchase fresh rations, and thereafter New Zealand vehicles brought bread from Athens, vegetables from Salonika and meat from both cities. The responsibility of drawing these supplies and building up reserve dumps of dry rations was left to the front-line transport of all units except 27 (Machine Gun) Battalion at Amindaion, which was supplied by the Divisional Supply Column. If the units were east of Mount Olympus they went to No. 4 Field Supply Depot at Neon Keramidhi; if they were on the Larisa side they went to No. 1 Field Supply Depot on the plain below the western entrance of Olympus Pass. This left the Supply Column free to establish itself at Neon Keramidhi and bring in supplies from both Katerini and Larisa.

The Army Service Corps units were, for the most part, on the Larisa side of the mountain. The Ammunition Company had reached Katerini on 25 March and had then taken ammunition from the railhead to the forward areas, but after 3 April it operated from Larisa, attached to 81 Base Sub-area and running convoys to Servia and Amindaion. The Petrol Company worked in Athens during 21–25 March, reached a base just north of Elasson on 29 March and thereafter trucked petrol from Larisa. Fourth Reserve Mechanical Transport Company, after spending 21–27 March about Athens and Piræus, went to the Larisa area, where it encamped at Nikaia, attached to 81 Base Sub-area. From there dumps were established about Larisa, supplies were taken to Servia and Kozani, and, on 4–7 April, Greek troops were transported from Veroia to Edhessa.

The servicing of divisional transport was done by 1 Field Workshops from a point six miles west of Katerini; Ordnance duties were the responsibility of Major Andrews,2 Assistant Director of Ordnance Services, who had opened his office at Kalokhori on 27 March.

1 On 6 April it went to Gannokhora.

2 Brig A. H. Andrews, OBE, m.i.d.; London; born New Plymouth, 11 Jan 1912; Regular soldier; ADOS 2 NZ Div 1941–42; CREME Dec 1942–Jun 1943, Jul 1944–Sep 1945; Commandant, Waiouru Military Camp, 1953–54; Commander, Central Military District, Nov 1954–Nov 1956; Senior Army Liaison Officer, London, 1957–.