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CHAPTER IV

THE GREEK ARMY WINTER OPERATIONS


AND THE ITALIAN GREAT PRIMAVERA(SPRING)
ATTACK
( January 7 un!" Mar#$ %&' ()*( )
The General Military Situation in the beginning of 1941
( Sketch-map no. 13 )
(7+, As previously mentioned in the development of
operations until this point, on November l, the !reek
forces undertook to launch a "eneral counter-attack
throu"hout the entire Albanian #heatre of $perations.
After a t%o-month hard stru""le under e&tremely adverse
%eather conditions and despite the stubborn resistance
and the continual reinforcement of the enemy %ith ne%
units, they mana"ed to repulse the 'talians far beyond the
!reek-Albanian borders, from 3( to )( kilometres inland,
and %ere able to reach the "eneral line of *imara-+oliena-
#serevonda-Souka"ora mountain-,amia mountain-
-o"radet..
#he "eneral disposition of the !reek forces on the
evenin" of /anuary 0, 111, %as the follo%in"2
-'n the Southern Sector, the A3 Army 4orps, %ith its
*5 at 6ervitsani, had been set up defensively in the .one
from *imara to mount 6ebelit and had the ''', 7''' and ''
6ivisions at its disposal in the direction %est to east.
-'n the 4entral Sector, the +3 Army 4orps, %ith its *5
at -remeti, continuin" its o8ensive operations, occupied
the .one from the valley of Aoos river (included) to
#omoros mountain and had the ', 97 and 9' 6ivisions at its
disposal in the direction south to north.
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-'n the Northern Sector, the ><@AS, %ith its *5 at
,oritsa, included the 43 and ;3 Army 4orps and occupied
the .one from #omoros mountain to -o"radet..
#he 43 Army 4orps, %ith its *5 at ,oritsa, had the '9
and 9''' 6ivisions as Arst echelon and the 97'' 6ivision at
the second echelon, from south-%est to north-east.
#he ;3 Army 4orps further south, %ith its *5 at
+obotista, %as provided %ith only the 9 6ivision, %hich
had been defensively established as a Arst echelon. #his
4orps %as also e&pected to be reinforced %ith the 97'
6ivision, %hich had been formed in @lorina from the 97'
+ri"ade a fe% days earlier and %as preparin" to transfer
to the area of the rivers 6evolis and #omoritsa north-%est
of <oschopolis.
-:eserves of the 4ommander in 4hief, %ere the 7
6ivision in the area of ,oritsa, the '7 6ivision in the area
?iebhova-,akavia and the 4avalry 6ivision in the area of
;lea.
#hus, the !reek forces allocated to the Northern
;pirus #heatre of $perations, on /anuary 0, amounted to
thirteen 'nfantry 6ivisions and a 4avalry division, %ith the
prospect of the transfer of one additional 6ivision, that of
the 7' from the +ul"arian #heatre of $perations.
(7&, $pposite the above !reek forces, in the evenin" of
/anuary 0, 111, the 'talians had the follo%in" units at
their disposal2
-@ifteen 'nfantry 6ivisions, namely2 11th B+renneroC,
D1th B-iedmonteC, l1th B7ene..iaC, D3rd B@erraraC, 33rd
BAEuiC, 3Fth B<odenaC, Gth B#aroC, 1th B-armaC, )lst
BSiennaC, )3rd BAre..oC, )0th B,a.aleC, Dnd Alpine
B#ridentinaC, 3rd Alpine B!iuliaC, th Alpine B,ouneenseC and
)th Alpine B-ousteriaC.
-#he 131st Armoured 6ivision B4entaursC reinforced
%ith the )th +ersa"lieri :e"iment.
-#he Dnd +ersa"lieri :e"iment, the 3rd !renadieri
:e"iment, t%o 4avalry re"iments and a number of
+lackshirts, Albanians and <achine-"un battalions.
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-A section of the B4uneoC and B>olves of #uscanyC
6ivisions, %hich landed in Albania in the end of 6ecember
and %ere "radually advancin" to%ards the .one of
operations.
(77, #he operations of the ?ar"e Hnits until /anuary 0,
111, %ere conducted, as already mentioned, in
accordance %ith the !eneral *eadEuarters instructions of
6ecember 1D, 11(.
#he operations %ere conducted under adverse
conditions, such as severe %inter, diIculties in the re-
supply and evacuations and "reat losses due to frostbite
%hich e&ceeded the casualties of battle. @urthermore,
there %as a necessity to supplement the shorta"es that
had arisen after the t%o-month e&pedition in personnel,
pack animals, automatic %eapons and supplies - materiel
of all kinds. #he above conditions forced the *i"h
4ommand to suspend, as previously mentioned, the lar"e
scale o8ensive operations.
#his decision, %hich %as initially taken on 6ecember
DG, %as later implemented %ith the "eneral instructions of
the 4ommander-in-chief, %hich %ere issued on /anuary 0,
111. #hrou"h these instructions, it %as determined that
until the improvement of %eather conditions, the lar"e
units %ould take measures to or"anise the defensive
disposition of their forces in order to secure the occupied
positions and %ould conduct local operations in order to
improve their positions and preserve the a""ressive spirit
of their troops.
'n "eneral, the missions of the lar"e units %ere the
follo%in" 2
-#he A3 Army 4orps, in the valley of river Ja"orias
%as to limit its activity in pushin" the enemy north of
Aoos river, in order to safe"uard the Kunction of ,lissoura.
'n the valley of the river 6rinos, it %as to limit its activity
to small scale local operations in order to repulse the
enemy to%ards Aoos and to safely block o8 the valley of
6rinos from that direction.
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-#he +3 Army 4orps %as to conduct o8ensive
operations in order to sei.e the Kunction of ,lissoura, to
block o8 the deAle of ,lissoura from the %est and sei.e
the "eneral line -od"orani-Souka-<ali !aronin
1
.
-#he ><@AS %as to limit its activity to securin" the
hi"h plateau of ,oritsa. @urthermore, it %as obli"ed to
secure the liaison %ith the +3 Army 4orps in the valley of
#omoritsa river and to conduct limited, local operations as
appropriate in order to improve its positions.
The Ofensive Operations of the B' Army orps
to!ar"s #lissoura $ Trebessina $ Boubessi
%&anuary '$()* 1941+
(Sketch-map no. 1)
(7-,
#he operations of the +3 Army 4orps for the occupation of
the road Kunction of ,lissoura had been prepared follo%in"
prior instructions of the !eneral *eadEuarters. $n the
basis of these instructions, the +3 Army 4orps issued its
orders on /anuary 3, %hich concerned the sei.ure of the
mountain ran"e <ali #opoyianit-Spi 7aristolian and their
safe"uardin" from all directions as far as <ali *irotse and
<ali !aronin. After%ards, actions %ould be taken alon"
the south %estern direction, in order to cut o8 the
,lissoura-7erati road and to sei.e ,lissoura.
#he main attack %ould be conducted by the '
6ivision to the left (south) and the 97 6ivision to the ri"ht
(north), %hile the 9' 6ivision %as assi"ned to assist the
e8ort of the 97 6ivision.
(7), #he attack had
been planned to commence in the mornin" of /anuary ). 't
%as postponed, ho%ever, and %as Anally launched in the
1
Sketch-map no. 1
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mornin" of /anuary G so that in the meantime the 97
6ivision could be reinforced %ith artillery.
#he ' 6ivision commenced its attack at 1((( hrs
%hile, in the meantime, the 97 6ivision had sei.ed the
summit of the <ali #opoyianit hei"ht.
#he attack %as launched a"ainst the hei"hts south
and south-%est of <ali #opoyianit in the direction of
,lissoura and, by that evenin", they %ere sei.ed, by the
6ivision, despite the stubborn resistance of the 'talians.
#he enemy abandoned more than 3(( dead and a lar"e
Euantity of %ar supplies on the battleAeld. $n the
follo%in" day, /anuary 1, the 6ivision sei.ed the hei"hts
north of #o"liari villa"e and further south, the hei"hts of
-anariti villa"e. #his e8ort %as supported %ith the Are of
the 6etachment headed by ?ieutenant 4olonel
6imokostoulas of the '' 6ivision (A3 Army 4orps), %hich
operated at the same time south of Aoos river at the area
of +resdani villa"e.
#he 97 6ivision commenced its attack at (F(( hrs
and by (1(( hrs it had sei.ed the summit of <ali
#opoyianit by force of bayonet. 'n spite of the stubborn
resistance and the successive counter-attacks of the
enemy, it continued its o8ensive to%ards the <ali *irotse
hei"ht, %hich it mana"ed to sei.e durin" the early hours
of the evenin", %hile further to the Northeast it took the
hei"ht of +re"ou ?ipes. #he morale of the troops en"a"ed
in the attack %as e&cellent and the self-sacriAce of the
oIcers and soldiers uneEualled. #he enemy abandoned
more than G(( killed in action and %ounded from the
B!iuliaC 6ivision units. #he si"ht of the battleAeld %as
indeed macabre. #he prisoners included 1 oIcers and
31 soldiers on the 'talian side. 'n addition, pack
artillery "uns, D0 mortars of G1mm and an abundance of
food and supplies %ere sei.ed. #he casualties of the 97
6ivision durin" that day, %ere F oIcers and 111 soldiers
killed in action and 1 oIcers and DG0 soldiers %ounded.
6urin" the ni"ht of /anuary G to 1, 6ivision troops
continued their o8ensive to the %est of the #opoyianit
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128
hei"ht, in order to cut o8 the carria"e road ,lissoura-
7erati. At (D(( hrs on /anuary 1, they sei.ed the Souka
villa"e, placed the abovementioned road under their Are
and attacked the %ithdra%in" enemy troops of the BAEuiC
6ivision, %hich had been sent to reinforce the B!iuliaC
6ivision. +y the mornin" of /anuary 1, 1F 'talian oIcers
and 0(( soldiers had been taken prisoners and abundant
%ar supplies had been sei.ed.
#he 97 6ivision attack continued on /anuary 1 under
adverse %eather conditions and at around 1(( hrs the
<ali !aronin hei"ht %as occupied alon" %ith the area of
the #sepova villa"e, to the south-%est.
#he 9' 6ivision, operatin" north of the 97 6ivision,
assisted the action of the latter %ith its Are on /anuary G
and 1, %hile preparin" to cross Apsos river %ith part of its
troops in order to sei.e the villa"e of Slatina and to cut o8
the enemy that intended to escape in the direction of
7erati.
(-., #he +3 Army 4orps, follo%in" this successful
development of operations, issued a ne% operation order
on /anuary 1 accordin" to %hich any further operations of
the ' and 9' 6ivisions %ould be oriented to%ards the
north-%est, in order to sei.e the area lyin" on both sides
of the deep line of river 6esnitsa, alon" %hich the
,lissoura-7erati road %inds, %ith po%erful cover from the
direction of #epeleni-,lissoura.
#he ' 6ivision be"an its attack at (F3( hrs on /anuary
1( and part of its troops sei.ed !ivanai villa"e and the
hei"hts east of -od"orani villa"e, %hile further to the
north the 6ivision sei.ed the southern hei"hts of :oden.
#he Fth :e"iment of the 6ivision, %hich %as
operatin" in the direction of ,lissoura and %as supported
by the Are of the 6imokostoulas 6etachment, took
possession of ,lissoura at around 1(3( hrs. +y 1F(( hrs it
had advanced to the position of ,astelo rid"e at the
eastern slopes of the #rebessina mountain, %hich
terminate in the river Aoos, directly %est of ,lissoura.
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An 'talian counter-attack %ith tanks, that %as
launched from the deAle of ,lissoura-#epeleni, %as
contained by the Are of the artillery. 'n the course of their
%ithdra%al, the 'talians set Are to ,lissoura and destroyed
the stone brid"e of the river 6esnitsa to%ards #epeleni as
%ell as the %ooden brid"e of the ,lissoura--remeti road.
#he 97 6ivision operated North%est of the !aronin
mountain and, after a hard stru""le, advanced as far as
the steep slopes of <ali #abayian, north-east of :oden.
'n the sector of the 9' 6ivision, the situation remained
unchan"ed. #he sei.ure of ,lissoura constituted an
important success for the A"htin" troops of the +3 Army
4orps and a serious blo% for the 'talians. #he latter
attached "reat si"niAcance to this important road Kunction
and had striven hard to retain it %ith the B!iuliaC 6ivision.
Since /anuary 3, in particular, they be"an to reinforce the
latter %ith the B>olves of #uscanyC 6ivision, %hich had
been transferred to Avlonas from 'taly at that time.
#he follo%in" dramatic plea by 4avallero,
4ommander in chief of the 'talian forces in Albania, that
%as addressed by phone to the 4ommander of the B!iuliaC
6ivision is characteristic of the si"niAcance attached to
that location by the 'talians. #his has been recorded in the
diary kept by 4avallero, in the entry of /anuary 11, 111 2
B#he B!iuliaC 6ivision has fulAlled its duty. >e are
satisAed despite its %ithdra%al. #oday, ne% forces are
pourin" in, part of %hich are already in 7erati. 't is
necessary to close the "ap, be it %ith your o%n sacriAce. 'f
the area is broken throu"h, %e %ill no lon"er hold our
"round. #he @atherland demands it, even if %e are about
to die for that cause, and ' %ill come to die %ith you. ' am
askin" you to make this last e8ort, in the name of 'taly. '
am certain that you too %ill be satisAed in the ne&t fe%
days, for then %e %ill reach victory. #he reinforcements
are arrivin" and you %ill "o and rest. >e shall re-or"anise
and create a "lorious B!iuliaC, but for no% you must hold
onC.
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130
<oreover, the -rime <inister of !reece, in reco"nition
of the importance of the sei.ure of ,lissoura, addressed
the follo%in" tele"ram to the +3 Army 4orps on /anuary
13.
,O-.ers an" men* / .ongratulate you for your latest
e0ploits in the area of #lissoura12
$n the follo%in" day, /anuary 11, the units of the +3
Army 4orps mainly had the task of securin" the area of
,lissoura from the direction of #epeleni and the North%est
and they attempted to improve their positions.
4oncurrently, they repulsed enemy counter-attacks.
(-(, $n /anuary lD, the +3 Army 4orps communicated a
plan of action concernin" both the sei.ure of the Art.a-
+re"ou Sialesi-<ali Spandarit line and the e8ort to secure
the area of ,lissoura from the direction of #epeleni and the
North%est. #he 4orps %ould be operatin" in three phases
%ith its main e8ort alon" the rid"eline of <ali !aronin-
+re"ou <emoula.it-+osEuetto and, by employin" the '9
6ivision, %ould simultaneously seek to establish
brid"eheads south of Apsos river, up to the villa"es of
7er.ie.ia and 'strora. #he attack %as planned to
commence in the mornin" of /anuary l0, %hile the crossin"
of Apsos river by the 9' 6ivision %ould be conducted after
orders of the Army 4orps.
'n order to secure ,lissoura and mop up the area
south of Aoos river as far as the ,lissoura deAle, since
/anuary l3 the !eneral *eadEuarters provided the +3 Army
4orps %ith the 6imokostoulas 6etachment alon" %ith the
rest of the '' 6ivision that %ere operatin" east of the
Ja"oria Stream. After the order of the +3 Army 4orps,
these troops formed the L,lissoura #eamM, a uniAed "roup,
that %as under the command of ?ieutenant 4olonel
6imokostoulas and %as subordinate to the Army 4orps.
6urin" the period until the commencement of the
attack, the units mainly dealt %ith the improvement of
their disposition and their positions of departure, despite
the adverse %eather and the sno% depth %hich had
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reached the one meter in the area of #rebessina. 6ue to
the %eather conditions and the shorta"es in fora"e, 0(N
of the pack animals have perished .
(-%, Since the mornin" of /anuary l0, the +3 Army 4orps
resumed its o8ensive operations.
$n /anuary 1G the ' 6ivision, after havin" repelled
enemy counter-attacks for t%o consecutive days and
despite the adverse %eather conditions, sent troops in
order to conduct reconnaisance in force to%ards the -sari
hei"ht of #rebessina mountain and also to%ards the hei"ht
#souka @esit. $n /anuary l1, it sei.ed -avari villa"e, east of
*ani +alaban.
#he L,lissoura #eamM repulsed an enemy
counterattack that %as launched from the direction of
#epeleni and sei.ed the hei"ht 10D( on #rebessina
mountain.
#he 97 6ivision, en"a"ed in action since (1(( hrs on
/anuary l0, sei.ed the hei"hts #souka @esit and <ali
#abayian under adverse %eather conditions and after a
Aerce battle. $n the follo%in" day, it sei.ed the hei"ht
6ras-e-,ais and continued its advance to%ards the <ali
,orap and +re"ou <emoula.it hei"hts, %here it took about
F(( 'talian prisoners includin" the 4ommander of the FFth
:e"iment of the B>olves of #uscanyC 6ivision.
6urin" the ni"ht and the follo%in" day, /anuary lG,
the sno%fall and the severe frost continued, visibility fell
belo% 1( meters and deaths due to frost %ere recorded in
the battle positions. #hus, no important activity took
place.
#he 6ivision resumed the o8ence durin" the ne&t
day, /anuary l1, %ith its men displayin" an e&cellent
morale, in spite of the hardships and the severe frost. At
10(( hrs the hei"ht ,iafe SoAout %as sei.ed, but any
further advance %as halted in the early evenin" hours.
#he 9' 6ivision, a%aitin" the order of the 4orps, in
order to cross river Apsos, did not display any note%orthy
activity %ithin its sector durin" the same period.
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(-/, Since /anuary l1, the !eneral
*eadEuarters assi"ned the 7 6ivision (minus) to the +3
Army 4orps. #he 7 6ivision had been a "eneral reserve of
the 4ommander in 4hief %ithin the .one of the 43 Army
4orps until then.
SubseEuently, the +3 Army 4orps ordered the 7
6ivision to move from the ,oritsa hi"h plateau as of the
evenin" of /anuary D1 and to concentrate its forces in the
area of ?eskoviki by /anuary D0. #he 4orps ordered the '
6ivision to sei.e the rid"eline 13(G-1(0( at the northern
section of #rebessina mountain and to retain the
necessary reserve %est of 6esnitsa river, so as to cover
the left Oank of the Army 4orps. #he 97 6ivision %as
assi"ned to mop up the area north of the ,iafe Sofout
hei"ht, as far as the river Apsos.
(-*, #he ' 6ivision, continuin" its operations on /anuary
D(, mana"ed to sei.e the hei"ht +re"ou -sari under bad
%eather conditions and severe cold. At the same time,
6ivision troops ascended the northern section of
#rebessina mountain and sei.ed the hei"ht 13(G, east of
-sari villa"e. @urthermore, other 6ivision troops sei.ed the
hei"hts east of *ani +oubessi and the northern hei"hts of
+alaban. $n the follo%in" day the %eather improved and
the enemy airforce mercilessly strafed not only the rear
area but also the front line troops. Nevertheless, the
6ivision continued the stru""le and despite the enemy
counter-action it mana"ed to sei.e the eastern rid"es of
,iafe ?ou.it, %hile 6ivision troops crossed 6esnitsa in the
south of *ani +oubessi, in the ni"ht of /anuary D1 to DD.
$n the same day (/anuary D1) in the sector of
,lissoura, the enemy succeeded in overthro%in" the
troops on the hei"ht 10D( by counter-attack and these
troops %ithdre% to%ards !ropa on the south-eastern
slopes of #rebessina mountain, near the river Aoos. After
this, the +3 Army 4orps reinforced the L,lissoura #eamM
%ith t%o battalions of the reserve.
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#he ' 6ivision continued its o8ensive e8ort and on
/anuary DD, after a tou"h A"ht that lasted the %hole day,
it mana"ed to sei.e the hei"ht of ,iafe ?ou.it. @urther to
the north it sei.ed the hei"ht of Spi ,amarate, %here it
took about )(( 'talian prisoners and sei.ed supplies of all
kinds.
$n /anuary D3, the hei"ht 10D( in the sector of
,lissoura %as recaptured, %hile in the northern sector of
the 6ivision, in the area of the *ani +oubessi, the +re"ou
:apit (F1F) hei"ht %as taken as %ell as the F3l hei"ht. #%o
consecutive counterattacks of the enemy a"ainst the
+re"ou :apit hei"ht failed. About 3)( 'talians %ere taken
prisoners includin" many oIcers.
6urin" the t%o-day period of /anuary D and D), the
enemy launched po%erful counter-attacks throu"hout the
entire front of the 6ivision, concentratin" its main e8ort in
the sector of ,lissoura a"ainst the hei"ht 10D( and in the
northern section of #rebessina a"ainst the hei"hts 13(G-
1(0(. +oth counterattacks %ere repulsed %ith many
losses for the enemy in personnel and eEuipment.
$n /anuary D( and Dl, the 97 6ivision repulsed stron"
enemy counter-attacks a"ainst the saddles of ,iafe
SoAout and ,iafe <ourit respectively. @rom /anuary DD to
D, no important activity %as recorded, because of the
unfavourable %eather conditions and the 6ivision troops
dealt %ith the re-or"anisation and the preparation of the
attack.
$n /anuary D), the 6ivision resumed the o8encive
and in spite of the adverse %eather conditions and the
stubborn resistance of the enemy, it sei.ed the 7inan
villa"e, the +re"ou ?ioulei hei"ht and by 1)3( hrs and
after a hard stru""le, the hei"ht of <ali Spandarit. #en
oIcers and appro&imately 1(( 'talian soldiers %ere taken
prisoners.
#he 9' 6ivision, %hich %as operatin" north of Apsos
river, accordin" to the Army 4orps instructions, %ould
assist the operations of the 97 6ivision to%ards <ali
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134
Spandarit and to transport a combat team of re"iment
stren"th across Apsos to the %est of this river.
#hus, on /anuary D(, the 6ivision sei.ed the ,ala
hei"ht by surprise, %ith a small section of its troops that
had crossed over to the %est of Apsos river, %hile t%o
days later, on /anuary DD, it captured the rid"e to the east
of <ali Spandarit. SubseEuently, on /anuary D and D),
the 6ivision transported one of its re"iments to the %est
of Apsos and advanced it to the area of villa"es Jaber.ani
and +ele.eska. #he river crossin" took place via the
brid"e of ?apani villa"e and throu"h the fords in the area
of Jo"as villa"e.
(-+, >ith the above operations, by /anuary 1(, 111,
the +3 Army 4orps had mana"ed to occupy the line
-od"orani-!aronin and the road Kuction of ,lissoura, and
by /anuary D), it had occupied the north-eastern and
south-%estern rid"es of #rebessina mountain, the saddle
of +oubessi and <ali Spandarit mountain.
#hus, on /anuary D), it had almost reached the end of
its e8orts and %as likely to revert to a defensive
disposition, since the bad %eather, the terrain and the
time of year hindered the continuation of lar"e scale
o8ensive operations.
#he enemy divisions %hich it confronted %ithin its
.one %ere ori"inally the 3rd Alpine B!iuliaC 6ivision, the
Fth 'nfantry B+ariC 6ivision, the )th Alpine B-ousteriaC
6ivision, as %ell as units from the 0th 'nfantry B4uneoC
6ivision and the Fth 'nfantry B>olves of #uscanyC 6ivision.
@urthermore, around the end of the above period, the
follo%in" divisions appeared %ithin the .one of the Army
4orps2 #he Dth 'nfantry B-ineroloC 6ivision, the DDnd
'nfantry BAlpine *untersC 6ivision and units from the 3Fth
'nfantry B<odenaC 6ivision and the )lst 'nfantry BSiennaC
6ivision.
't is evident from the above that the ', 97 and 9'
6ivisions of the +3 Army 4orps encountered at least F
'talian divisions durin" this period. #o this disparity of
135 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

forces one must also add the numerical superiority of the
'talian Airforce and the superiority of the 'talian units in
curved traKectory %eapons that %ere appropriate for
mountain A"htin", as %ell as the re-supply diIculties of
the !reek forces, %hich pulled them a%ay from their
supply bases, in contrast to the enemy forces %hich in
%ithdra%in" approached their o%n bases.
@urthermore, the continuous bad %eather and the
severe sno%storms subKected the men to harsh trials since
the increasin" number of frostbite cases incapacitated a
"reater number of men than the casualties of battle.
At the same time the situation of the pack animals
kept %orsenin" and the losses e&ceeded a third of their
ori"inal stren"th, due to insuIcient food, hardships and
their intense use, a fact that hindered transportation and
re-supply.
Operations in the 3orthern an" Southern Se.tors
%of the 4igh 5lateau of #oritsa an" 6pirus+
%&anuary '$()* 1941+
(-&, 'n the Northern Sector, on the basis of the
mission assi"ned to the ><@AS by the !eneral
*eadEuarters - concernin" the securin" of the ,oritsa hi"h
plateau, the liaison %ith and the cover of the ri"ht Oank of
the +3 Army 4orps and, also, the conduct of limited local
operations - there %ere no important operations carried
out durin" this time.
#hus, as of the Arst ten-day period of /anuary the
>@<AS (43-;3 Army 4orps) essentially reverted to a
defensive disposition. #he activity of the units %as
conAned to the repulsion of local 'talian attacks, the
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
136
improvement of the occupied positions and the defensive
or"anisation.
(-7,
'n the Southern Sector (;pirus), the same situation
prevailed. #he A3 Army 4orps, havin" reverted to a
defensive disposition and due to the bad %eather,
suspended its o8ensive operations and its activity %as
conAned to observin" the situation, improvin" the
occupied positions and or"anisin" and stren"thenin" the
front-line.
#he !eneral *eadEuarters, supplementin" its "eneral
instructions of /anuary 0, %hich outlined that on the part
of the A3 Army 4orps, action %as to be taken in the
eastern areas of 6rinos river, authorised the 4orps, on
/anuary 1(, to apply pressure, to%ards the %est of 6rinos
as %ell, a"ainst #epeleni. +esides, havin" planned to
assume po%erful o8ensive operations in the future as
soon as the %eather conditions and the re-or"anisation of
the forces %ould allo% it, the !eneral *eadEuarters %as
re"ardin" the reinforcement of the A3 Army 4orps %ith an
additional division as deAnite possibility.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the bad state of the
lines of communication and the insuIcient transportation
means for the re-supply, constituted a fundamental
obstacle. >hen this situation %as partially improved -
"iven that the '7 6ivision had already retired from the A3
Army 4orps front, bein" in need of a lon" rest -the !eneral
*eadEuarters ordered the 7 6ivision, %hich %as situated
in the area of the ,oritsa hi"h plateau, to advance
to%ards the front of ;pirus.
$n /anuary 1, the !eneral *eadEuarters informed the
A3 Army 4orps that there %as a disa"reement bet%een
!eneral 4avallero, the 'talian 4hief of the Army !eneral
Sta8 and Soddu, the 'talian 4hief of the 'talian forces in
Albania, because !eneral 4avallero supported the
assumption of a "eneral attack a"ainst the !reeks, %hile
!eneral Soddu insisted that the only hope left for the
137 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

'talian Army %as the conduct of strate"ic %ithdra%al as
far as the Skoubi river. #he fact that on 6ecember D1
Soddu %as relieved of his duties and 4avallero assumed
the command of the 'talian forces in Albania, proved that
the 4avalleroCs opinion had prevailed and, conseEuently,
an 'talian attack %as to be e&pected.
$n /anuary lG, the A3 Army 4orps submitted its
proposals to the !eneral *eadEuarters, re"ardin" the
continuation of the operations to%ards Avlonas %ithout
the support of the 7 6ivision, provided that the +3 Army
4orps %ould Arst sei.e and hold the area of !lava as far
as the river Aoos. #he !eneral *eadEuarters deemed that
the assumption of o8ensive operations by the A3 Army
4orps %as not possible in the immediate future and
placed, as mentioned, the 7 6ivision at the disposal of the
+3 Army 4orps.
The /talian atta.7 against #lissoura
%&anuary (8$91* 1941+
(Sketch-map no. 1)
(--, $n /anuary D), the !reek 4ommander in 4hief
visited the *eadEuarters of the +3 Army 4orps in
+andiloyia and %as briefed on the situation.
SubseEuently, on the same date, he issued an oral order
%hich deAned all that %as relevant to the further
continuation of operations.
$n the basis of this order, the +3 Army 4orps %as to
operate in the "eneral direction of !aronin-!lava %ith
vie% to the occupation of the line +ou.i-!lava. At the
same time it %ould operate in the south-%est direction of
+ou.i-Aoos-6eplan (1 km %est of #epeleni) in order to
threaten and place the #epeleni-Avlonas road under its
Are.
#hereafter, and provided that conditions %ere
favourable, it %ould advance north%ards to%ards 7erati
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
138
and %est%ards, thou"h not at the e&pense of its action
to%ards 6eplan. 6urin" a second sta"e, it %ould assist the
operations of the A3 Army 4orps to%ards Avlonas.
6urin" the same period, and dependin" on the e&tent
of its operatin" abilities, the ><@AS (43 and ;3 Army
4orps) %ould undertake operations in the sector of
-o"radet. and in the valley of #omoritsa.
*o%ever, the adverse %eather conditions and the
concentration of 'talian forces opposite the +3 Army 4orps
as a %arnin" of the L-rimaveraM (Sprin") attack, did not
allo% to conduct any of the abovementioned operations,
%ith the e&ception of a fe% limited local ones in the valley
of #omoritsa.
(-), #he 'talians, havin" lost the road Kunction of
,lissoura and the eastern e&it of the homonymous deAle
and despite the desperate pleas of 4avallero for Bdefence
to the endC in the area, Anally mana"ed to contain the
advance of the !reek attack, holdin" their "round steadily
in the area east of #epeleni mountain that blocks o8 the
%estern e&it of the deAle.
#he 'talians considered of "reat importance the
retainin" of these positions and thus they concentrated
stron" forces in order to create a B%allC , accordin" to the
characteristic e&pression of !eneral 4avallero. A"ainst the
forces of the '' 6ivision that comprised 1D battalions
defensively established south of Aoos river, the 'talians
had deployed 1 battalions on the east of 6rinos and 1D
battalions on the %est of the river and the B4entaursC
Armoured 6ivision in the area of #epeleni.
#hus, after consolidatin" their ne% positions, they
sou"ht to reoccupy ,lissoura, in order to unlock the deAle
and break throu"h the valley of river 6esnitsa, %hereupon
a serious threat %ould be set up a"ainst the left Oank of
the !reek +3 Army 4orps. #akin" advanta"e of a sli"ht
improvement of %eather conditions, that occurred after
/anuary D(, they concentrated the forces of the B?enianoC
6ivision in the area of #epeleni. #his division %as assi"ned
139 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

to conduct the operation, %ith the assistance of troops
from the B4entaursC Armoured 6ivision and an Alpine
battalion.
()., #he 'talian attack commenced in the mornin" of
/anuary D0, north of Aoos river in the direction alon" the
rid"eline #rebessina-hei"ht 11D3-10D(- !ropa-,lissoura
and south of Aoos river, in the direction of -estani-
+re.dani. #he attack a"ainst the hei"ht 10D( %as initially
repulsed. *o%ever, it %as repeated later and at
appro&imately 1(( hrs, the enemy sei.ed the hei"ht
10D( and spread further to%ards the south-east as far as
<outsin, <ertsoura and @rastani, threatenin" seriously
,lissoura.
At this critical moment, the ''' +attalion of the th
:e"iment of the ' 6ivision launched an attack from the
area of -od"orani to%ards the hei"ht 11D3 at the centre
of #rebessina mountain and struck the Oank of the 'talians,
thus containin" their move to%ards ,lissoura.
#he 'talian counter-attack to%ards the south of Aoos
from -estani and +re.dani (hei"ht 1DG)) %as repulsed
after a heroic stru""le at close combat durin" %hich the
commander of the defendin" battalion and the battery
commander %ere both %ounded. After the repulsion of the
counter-attack, the '' 6ivision reinforced the troops
positioned on the hei"ht %ith one additional battalion.
#he 'talian attack a"ainst ,lissoura alarmed the +3
Army 4orps. #he pocket that had been created constituted
a serious threat a"ainst its left Oank. @urthermore, the
possible sei.ure of ,lissoura %ould serve to cut o8 the
Army 4orps troops that %ere en"a"ed in action %est of
6esnitsa river. 'n order to cope %ith the situation, the
Army 4orps considered necessary to sei.e the entire
rid"eline of #rebessina mountain so as to prevent the
'talians from usin" it either as an observation post or as a
base of attack.
@or the implementation of this decision, the 4orps
made the necessary predisposition of forces and, havin"
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
140
reinforced the ' 6ivision %ith t%o battalions from the 97
6ivision, it ordered the former to operate in the direction
-od"orani-!ivanoi, to%ards the hei"hts 11D3 and 10D(, to
repulse the enemy and to sei.e the hei"ht 11D3.
@urthermore, it ordered the 7 6ivision to move
to%ards and deploy its forces in the area of ,lissoura, %ith
the prospect of assumin" an active sector in the .one of
the 4orps.
After takin" the above measures, the +3 Army 4orps
contained the further advance of the 'talians in the area of
,lissoura and established a continuous and stable front
alon" its left Oank, %ith the prospect of repulsin" the
enemy beyond the rid"eline of #rebessina.
()(, #he A3 Army 4orps, due to the situation that had
arisen and the information provided by prisoners,
concernin" the importance attached by the 'talians to the
attack a"ainst ,lissoura, reEuested and received the
approval of the !eneral *eadEuarters to e&tend its ri"ht
boundary as far as the river Aoos, in order to include the
L,lissoura #eamM under its command.
/anuary DF %ent by %ith no important activity
recorded in the sector of the L,lissoura #eamM. About
t%enty enemy tanks, that attempted to break throu"h the
deAle, %ere hit by the anti-tank "uns of the #eam and
retired after three had been destroyed. <oreover, in the
southern le" of the ,lissoura deAle the 'talians also made
persistent e8orts to sei.e the hei"ht 1DG) (+re.dani). #he
attack %as confronted successfully, after a A"ht durin"
%hich the scales %ere constantly %averin" bet%een the
t%o sides, both of %hich su8ered heavy losses. $n the
follo%in" day, /anuary DG, in the northern section of the
deAle, the hei"ht 10D( %as recaptured by the L,lissoura
#eamM.
$n /anuary D1, in the southern sector and after the
ferocious shellin" of the artillery, the attack a"ainst the
hei"ht 1DG) and the villa"es ?imari and <alesova %as
repeated and repulsed. @urthermore, Ave probin" attacks
141 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

of the enemy, %hich took place durin" the ni"ht of
/anuary D1 to 3( %ere also repulsed %ith success. $n
/anuary 3(, there %ere t%o further counter-attacks of the
enemy a"ainst the hei"ht 1DG), %hich %ere a"ain
repulsed and %ith heavy losses for the enemy.
#he Anal e8ort of the 'talians a"ainst the hei"ht 1DG)
%as made at D1(( hrs on /anuary 31 and %as successfully
repulsed. #hus, due to the !reek resistance, their e8ort to
break throu"h the deAle of ,lissoura ended %ithout any
territorial "ain. *o%ever, they succeeded in en"a"in" and
holdin" the !reek forces in position, %hereas in a di8erent
case these %ould be operatin" in the direction of 7erati.
6espite the failure of the 'talians to sei.e ,lissoura,
the !eneral *eadEuarters considered that the threat in
that direction continued to e&ist. 't %as therefore
necessary not only to resolve the situation and block o8
the deAle to a "reat depth, but also to improve the front
by reducin" its deployment. @urthermore and re"ardin"
the creation of a "eneral diversionary action, the !eneral
*eadEuarters issued an operation order on /anuary D1, by
%hich it authorised the conduct of o8ensive operations
%ithin the .one of the ><@AS to%ards -o"radet. and the
valley of the river #omoritsa.
The mopping up of the :i"geline of Trebessina Mountain
(Sketch-map no. 1)
()%, @ollo%in" the measures taken in order
to resolve the situation, the +3 Army 4orps issued speciAc
orders deAnin" the missions assi"ned to the ' and 7
6ivisions.
#hus, the 7 6ivision %as to sei.e and hold the
rid"eline of mount #rebessina and then advance and
secure the saddle of <ed."orani, <ali Sendeli and the
villa"e of <ed."orani and to mop up the deAle of
,lissoura as far as the villa"e of 6ra"oti.
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
142
#he ' 6ivision %ould conduct an attack from the
hei"ht 1G10 alon" the rid"eline of #rebessina mountain.
()/, <ean%hile, on the evenin" of /anuary
DG, the 7 6ivision terminated its concentration and
reconnaissance, %ith its re"iments in the area of
,lissoura-,oukiari and ,osina.
At (F(( hrs on /anuary D1, 6ivision troops sallied
forth to complete the sei.ure of #rebessina rid"eline from
the area of !ropa hei"ht. After a tou"h, alternatin" A"ht,
that carried on for the entire day, the attackin" troops
mana"ed to sei.e the hei"ht 11D3 in the late afternoon
hours, takin" at the same time 1F3 'talian prisoners and
sei.in" important %ar supplies.
#he follo%in" mornin", the 'talians launched a
vi"orous counter-attack, supported by the concentrated
Are of their artillery and airforce, in order to recapture the
hei"ht 11D3. #heir attempt failed due to the self-denial
and self-sacriAce of the defendin" !reek troops that
launched a counter-attack and forced the attackers to
%ithdra% in disarray, abandonin" their dead, %ounded
and numerous %ar supplies on the battleAeld.
$n the follo%in" day, /anuary 31, a severe bli..ard
did not permit the continuation of the operations beyond
the hei"ht 11D3, neither an action a"ainst the hei"ht
1G10 in the northern section of #rebessina to consolidate
the liaison %ith the ' 6ivision, nor to%ards the <ed."orani
saddle at its southern section.
#he situation in the other sectors of the +3 Army
4orps durin" this period did not present any essential
chan"es.
;nemy counter-attacks a"ainst the front of the 9'
6ivision, %hich had e&tended its boundary south of Apsos
river and had included <ali Spandarit %ithin its .one, %ere
successfully repulsed. #he counter-attacks a"ainst the
front of the 97 6ivision %ere also repulsed %ith success in
the area of *ani +oubessi as %ell as those a"ainst the '
6ivision in the area of +re"ou :apit and the hei"ht F3l,
143 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

a"ainst %hich the enemy had launched successive
counter-attacks.
#he involvement of the 7 6ivision in the operations
forced the !eneral *eadEuarters to or"anise a reserve in
the .one of the +3 Army 4orps. *ence, it assi"ned to the
4orps the 97'' 6ivision, %hich had been a reserve of the
><@AS until then. 'n its place it assi"ned to the ><@AS
the 7' 6ivision that %as to %ithdra% from the +ul"arian
#heatre of $perations. #he movement of the 97'' 6ivision
to its destination, the area of +orova-?eskoviki, %as
scheduled to commence on @ebruary D.
()*, >ithin the .one of the ><@AS in the northern
sector (,oritsa), no important operations took place durin"
this period. #he units dealt %ith the reor"anisation, the
improvement of their positions and also %ith the
improvement of the livin" conditions of the troops, and
pack animals, that had su8ered a lot due to the %eather.
:e"ardin" the disposition of forces, as of /anuary D0, the
97' 6ivision %as placed under the command of the ;3
Army 4orps and its forces %ere deployed in the area of
?io.ani--optsisti-#resova-+oritsa.
'n the Southern Sector (;pirus), %ithin the .one of the
A3 Army 4orps, small-scale local operations took place for
the improvement of the positions, %ithout e8ectin" any
essential chan"es in the front-line.
'n the .one of the '' 6ivision, repeated counterattacks
by the 'talians a"ainst the area of +oliena that constricted
the pocket of #epeleni, %ere repulsed after a hard A"ht.
6urin" the t%o-day period of /anuary D)-D0, the 'talians
bombed the area %ith more that ei"ht thousand artillery
shells, %hile on /anuary DF, they bombed the to%n of
Ar"yrokastro, usin" D)( and 3(( ," bombs, causin" 1G(
dead and about (( %ounded of the inhabitants and
soldiers.
>hile this %as takin" place on the front, in the
mainland the -rime <inister 'oannis <eta&as died
suddenly, on /anuary D1. $n the same day, Ale&andros
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
144
,ory.is, economist and politician, %ho had been <inister
of Social services from 1130 to 1131 and head of the
National +ank since 1131, %as appointed as -rime
<inister.
;o.al Operations from <ebruary 1 to 1(* 1941
()+, 6urin" the period from @ebruary 1 to
1D, despite the adverse %eather conditions and the fact
that the troops, the pack animals and %eapons had been
%orn do%n, the operations continued, thou"h on a limited
scale, in all three sectors of the front, in accordance %ith
the !eneral *eadEuarters instructions, issued on /anuary
D1.
#he principal factor that dictated the limitation of the
operations %ere the bad %eather conditions %ith the
continuous sno%falls. 'n many mountainous areas the
sno% depth e&ceeded the t%o meters. 4onseEuently, the
cases of frostbite surpassed the casualties of battle and
the deaths of pack animals, due to the lo% temperatures
and e&haustion amounted one third of their total stren"th.
#his fact seriously a8ected the transportation and re-
supply units.
()&, Hnder such adverse conditions and havin" opened
a passa"e in the sno% of one and a half meters %ide and
t%o to three meters deep, on @ebruary 1 and l(, '9
6ivision troops sei.ed %ithin the .one of the 43 Army
4orps, in the Northern sector, the <nima !reas hei"ht and
part of !ouri #opit in the mountain ran"e of Sara
!ravpova. After this operation, the 6ivision mana"ed to
secure the minimum depth reEuired for the better support
of its left Oank.
'n the 4entral Sector, 97 6ivision troops sei.ed the
villa"e of +oubessi on @ebruary , as %ell as the hei"ht
145 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

G(D, by close combat and despite the vi"orous resistance
of the enemy %hich abandoned DF oIcers and 3((
soldiers killed in action, more than 1G( prisoners and all
kinds of %ar supplies.
Actions of the +3 Army 4orps a"ainst Sendeli and the
saddle of <ed."orani failed to have the desired results,
due to the enemy counter-actions and the adverse
%eather conditions. #o the south of the river Aoos,
continuous enemy counter-actions a"ainst the hei"ht
1DG) and *ormova %ere repulsed.
?ocal actions of the A3 Army 4orps units durin" the
same time sou"ht to improve the occupied positions and
create favourable conditions for the conduct of further
operations to%ards #epeleni and Avlonas.
'n the meantime, from @ebruary 1 to , the
4ommander in chief visited the *eadEuarters of the
><@AS, the 43 and ;3 Army 4orps and, also, the 9''', 97'
and 97'' 6ivisions, %here he had a brieAn" on the
situation and issued the necessary instructions.
The Organi=ation of the 6pirus <iel" Army Se.tion
%6<AS+
()7, Hntil the be"innin" of @ebruary, the
A3 and +3 Army 4orps %ere directly under the orders of the
4ommander in 4hief, %hose advanced *eadEuarters had
been in 'oannina since 6ecember 10, 11(, in order to
ensure better co-ordination of the operations in Albania.
*o%ever, in the event of a confrontation of forces in
the direction of the +ul"arian #heatre of $perations,
%hereupon the 4ommander in chief %ould be forced to
move from the #heatre of ;pirus, it %as necessary to
or"anise, from then on, a *eadEuarters to co-ordinate the
actions of the A3 and +3 Army 4orps. #o that end, the
!eneral *eadEuarters, by its orders on @ebruary 0 and F,
authorised the or"anisation of the ;pirus @ield Army
Section (;@AS), %hich %ould have its *5 at 'oannina under
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
146
the commands of ?ieutenant !eneral <arkos 6rakos, %ho
had been 4ommander of the ;astern <acedonia @ield
Army Section (;<@AS) until then.
#he 4ommand of the ;@AS %as assumed at ((( hrs
on @ebruary l. #he ;@AS comprised the A3 Army 4orps
%ith the '', ''', '7 and 7''' 6ivisions and the +3 Army 4orps
%ith the ', 7, 9', 97 and 97'' 6ivisions. #he boundaries of
its .one of responbility %ere the 'onian sea to the %est
and the Apsos river to the east, in liaison %ith the ><@AS.
#he !eneral *eadEuarters, by its orders of @ebruary
lD, assi"ned the ;@AS %ith the co-ordination of the
operations of the A3 and +3 Army 4orps for the sei.ure of
Avlonas. #he missions of the Army 4orps %ere "enerally
outlined as follo%s2
-#he A3 Army 4orps %ould operate alon" the valley of
the Siousitsa river and the carria"e road #epeleni-Avlonas,
in order to sei.e the harbour of Avlonas.
-#he +3 Army 4orps %ould operate to sei.e the
hei"hts of !lava. #hen, it %ould advance to%ards Aoos
river and it %ould operate %ith its left Oank to%ards
Avlonas in conKuction %ith the action of the A3 Army 4orps.
3e! Attempts to!ar"s Tepeleni
%<ebruary 19 $ (>* 1941+
(Sketch-map no. 1) and 10)
()-, Accordin" to the order issued by the +3 Army 4orps
on @ebruary 1 for the assumption of operations to%ards
#rebessina-Sendeli, in the mornin" of @ebruary 13, troops
147 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

of the 7 6ivision, %hich had taken their positions of attack
on #rebessina durin" the ni"ht of @ebruary 1D to 13 under
a heavy bli..ard, launched their attack and by 1(( hrs
sei.ed one after the other the villa"e of Art.a di Sopra,
the hei"ht 11FG, the Art.a di <e..o and the hei"ht F1(.
@urther to the south, other troops of the 6ivision sei.ed
the hei"ht 1G10 on #rebessina mountain but, because of
continuous sno%storm, they %ere unable to advance
to%ards the saddle of <ed."orani.
$n the follo%in" day, @ebruary l, the attack to sei.e
the -unta Nord hei"ht continued in the northern section of
Sendeli mountain, but %ithout any success. @urthermore,
Aerce enemy counter-attacks to recapture the hei"ht 11FG
%ere repulsed %ith the attackin" troops su8erin" heavy
losses. 6espite their hard stru""le, by the evenin" hours,
the 6ivision units had only sli"htly improved the positions
%hich they had occupied on the previous day.
#he attack %ent on the ne&t day and after a tou"h
A"ht at close Euarters, the eastern section of the -unta
Nord hei"ht %as sei.ed, but its occupation %as not
completed. 'n the direction of <ed."orani, the saddle of
<ed."orani bet%een #rebessina and Sendeli %as taken at
1(( hrs.
#he enemy launched ferocious counter-attacks, to
recapture the -unta Nord and <ed."orani durin" the
daytime and in the ni"ht of @ebruary 1) to l0, %hich %ere
unsuccessful. #he 'talians abandoned about D(( killed in
action and )(( prisoners.
#he occupation of the -unta Nord %as completed on
@ebruary l0. #he repeated enemy counter-attacks to
recapture that hei"ht as %ell as the hei"hts 1D0( and
11FG %ere repulsed %ith many casualties on both sides. 'n
the direction of <ed."orani, no success %as recorded due
to the sno%storm, the hi"h depth of the sno% and the
rou"h terrain. Ne% 'talian counter-attacks, that launched
in the ni"ht of @ebruary 10 to lF, in order to recapture the
hei"hts 1D0( and -unta Nord, %ere successfully repulsed.
@rom @ebruary 1G to D), no chan"es %ere recorded in the
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
148
occupied positions of the 7 6ivision, because of the
severely bad %eather that had occurred and did not
permit the continuation of operations to%ards Sendeli
mountain.
Since its entry into combat, on /anuary D1, the 7
6ivision had endured severe hardships and its casualties,
includin" the killed in action, %ounded and frostbite cases
e&ceeded 3,3)( men. 6urin" the same period, the
number of its pack animals %as reduced by F)G animals.
#he ' and 97 6ivisions had also endured hardships,
A"htin" continuously on the front-line since the be"innin"
of %ar. #his is %hy, the ;@AS authorised their "radual
relief, %hen conditions %ould permit it.
()), 'n conKuction %ith the action of the 7
6ivision of the +3 Army 4orps to%ards Sendeli-<ed."orani,
an o8ensive of the '' 6ivision (A3 Army 4orps) had been
planned to take place to%ards ?ekli and -estani.
#his operation %as not carried out on @ebruary 13,
because the units of the +3 army 4orps %hich %ould
operate to%ards <ed."orani %ere unable to advance in
that direction. #he 4ommander of the ;@AS, after
assumin" his duties on @ebruary l, ordered the A3 Army
4orps to conduct the o8ensive a"ainst ?ekli and -estani,
as prepared. #hus, the attack of the '' 6ivision %as
launched on @ebruary l), bet%een Aoos river and mount
Nemertska, despite the heavy 'talian bombin" a"ainst the
positions of the attackin" troops since (D(( hrs.
#he attack %as launched at (F3( hrs a"ainst the
hei"ht 1DG), yet its occupation %as not completed durin"
the day. After a ni"ht probin" attack the sei.ure of the
hei"ht 1DG) %as achieved %ith the e&ception of its north-
%estern part. #he action to%ards the villa"e of -estani
%as unsuccessful.
$n @ebruary l0, the attack %as continued from the
direction of the hei"ht 1DG) and the brid"e of Ja"orias
river %as placed under control. 6urin" this t%o day
stru""le, more than (( 'talians %ere captured, includin"
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t%o senior oIcers. #he attack also continued durin" the
follo%in" day, ho%ever %ithout any note%orthy results,
mainly on account of the enemy Oankin" Are from the
dominatin" !oliko hei"ht, in the south.
$n @ebruary lG, the hei"ht 1FD3 in the ran"e of !oliko
%as sei.ed and the entire force en"a"ed in its defence
and comprisin" three oIcers and ei"hty Ave soldiers %ere
captured. @urthermore, the north-eastern outskirts of the
-estani villa"e %ere taken, but many losses %ere su8ered
by the attackin" re"iment of the 6ivision.
'n the direction of ?ekli, no pro"ress %as recorded,
due to the stron" or"anisation of the terrain and the
counter-action of the enemy %ith an incessant barra"e of
Are.
After the limited successes in the direction of ?ekli
and -estani, the 6ivision decided to focus its main e8ort
to%ards !oliko, assistin" thus the moves to%ards ?ekli on
the left and -estani on the ri"ht.
#hus, on @ebruary l1, the attack continued and the
villa"e of -estani %as sei.ed, %here over 3(( prisoners
%ere taken and %ar supplies of all kinds %ere captured.
*o%ever, further advance %as contained by the Oankin"
Are of the tanks, that %ere Arin" from the northern bank
of Aoos alon" the road #epeleni-,lissoura. An e8ort
a"ainst the hei"ht F31, to the %est of -estani failed due to
the artillery barra"e that spread to the villa"e of -estani
and caused many losses to the attackin" troops as %ell as
to the inhabitants.
$n @ebruary D(, an action to%ards ?ekli did not have
any pro"ress, %hile the advance on !oliko to%ards the
hei"ht 101) continued and the eastern part of that hei"ht
%as sei.ed.
6urin" the period from @ebruary D1 to DG, the
o8ensive operations %ere suspended, on account of the
e&tremely adverse %eather that prevailed in the area in
conKunction %ith the continuously increasin" number of
casualties due to the ceaseless poundin" of the enemy
artillery and frostbite cases that had arisen to alarmin"
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150
proportions. #he attack a"ainst the hei"ht F31 %as
repeated on @ebruary DG, despite the unfavourable
%eather conditions, but %ith no successP neither did the
'talian counter-attack a"ainst the hei"ht of !oliko.
#he casualties of the '' 6ivision durin" the month of
@ebruary amounted to 13 oIcers and D0G soldiers killed
in action and D0 oIcers and FD( soldiers %ounded, not
includin" the frostbite cases, %hich amounted to 0(-G(
per day, only in the area of !oliko.
%.., 6urin" the same period, in the other
sectors of the front, there %ere no lar"e-scale operations
takin" place, apart from local en"a"ements for the
improvement of positions %ithin the occupied front-line.
#he activities of the commands and units %ere focused on
the or"anisation of the terrain, the protection of the
personnel and animals from the bad %eather conditions,
the maintenance of %eapons and eEuipment, the
reor"anisation and resupply of the units and, in "eneral,
the preparation of future operations.
On the 6ve of the /talian ?5rimavera@ %Spring+ Atta.7
%.(,
#he repeated !reek successes and the continuin"
advance of the !reek Army into the Northern ;pirus
territory, "reatly alarmed the 'talian hi"h 4ommand, as
mentioned previously. #hus, on 6ecember D1, 11(,
<ussolini %as forced to order the replacement of the
4ommander in chief for the Albanian #heatre of
$perations, !eneral Soddu, by the 4hief of the Army
!eneral Sta8, !eneral 4avallero. @urthermore, he
reEuested *itler to reinforce the 'talian forces in Albania ,
%ith the stren"th of a !erman Army 4orps. A series of
meetin"s ensued, on the study of the transportation and
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use of !erman forces in Albania in order to stren"then the
front.
<ussolini took to heart the defeat of his forces in
Albania, %hich constituted for him the main theatre of
operations. #hus, he %as seekin" for a victory, even %ith
the !erman aid, over the !reeks, %ho %ere, at that
moment, threatenin" Avlonas and 7erati.
*itler, on his part, bein" in a hurry to be"in the
campai"n a"ainst :ussia, %as disheartened by the 'talian
inability to overpo%er the !reek forces, despite the
reassurances of <ussolini, and therefore ordered the
plannin" of a !erman attack a"ainst !reece.
$n /anuary 11 and D(, 111, a "reat conference took
place in Sal.bur", and apart from *itler and <ussolini, the
<inisters of @orei"n A8airs 7on :ibbentrop and 4iano took
part, as %ell as the !erman !enerals /odle, *alder, 7on
+rauhit. and 7on :idelen alon" %ith the 'talian !enerals
!u..oni and <aras, %ho %as the liaison in the !erman
*eadEuarters.
'n the conference, the 'talians stated that their
intention %as to halt the !reek advance and to hold the
front, %hich %as supported by t%enty-one 'talian divisions,
%hile there %as an intention to send another three. 'n the
near future they %ould reinforce it %ith ten additional
divisions, in order to launch a counter-attack %ithin the
ne&t t%o and a half months from the direction of ,oritsa
to%ards ;rseka.
'n the minutes kept durin" the conference, %hich
%ere later found by the Americans, the !ermans state
their reservations as to the %hether the 'talians %ould be
able to concentrate the reEuired forces in the appropriate
time, %hich meant that !ermany should not e&pect any
help from 'taly, in the event of a !erman attack from
+ul"aria a"ainst !reece. $n the contrary, the !erman
attack %ould "reatly relieve the 'talian front in Albania.
%.%, After the deAnite and Anal decisions of the
!ermans to attack !reece, <ussolini, in order to save his
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
152
fallen presti"e, renounced the !erman reinforcement and,
as early as the ne&t day, be"an to reinforce the Albanian
front aimin" at a victory a"ainst the !reeks before the
outbreak of the !erman attack, that %ould put an end to
the campai"n a"ainst !reece and %ould secure the
!erman Army Oank durin" the campai"n a"ainst :ussia.
#hus, by the end of @ebruary, ten ne% 'talian
divisions %ere transferred to Albania, %hile tens of ships
%ere daily transportin" thousands of tons of supplies,
ammunitions, motor vehicles and %eapons. At the same
time, in order to heal the moral crisis and restore the
A"htin" spirit of the 'talian Army, he issued, immediately
upon his return from Sal.bur", an order of the day throu"h
the <inistry of Armed @orces, encoura"in" all the fascist
factors, even ministers, to enlist and Koin the 'talian Armed
forces at the Albanian front.
:espondin" to the above call, by the end of @ebruary
those that volunteered to enlist and Koin the 'talian forces
as oIcers in order to inspire the 'talian Army %ere the
<inisters +artai, -avolini, :ichardi, :i..i, !orla, the loudest
of the senior oIcials of fascism, <arina..i and !ianetti, as
%ell as the son-in-la% of <ussolini !aleatso 4iano.
%./, At the end of @ebruary everythin" %as ready for
the ne% attack a"ainst the !reek forces, codenamed
B-:'<A7;:AC (S-:'N!) by the 'talians and %as or"anised
and prepared to the last detail by <ussolini, %ho had
placed himself in char"e of it. 'ndeed, %hen the 6uce %as
convinced that he had completed all preparations, he
departed in the mornin" of <arch D, %ith his personal
aeroplane %hich he piloted himself, for the airAeld of
#irana, %here he %as received by the 4ommander in chief
4avallero, the !overnor appointed by the 'talian 4ro%n
!iacomonti and !eneral :an.a.
4avallero assured him that the situation in Albania
had improved and that everythin" %as ready for the
attack.
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@rom the speech delivered by <ussolini, on /une 11,
111, it can be concluded that the forces provided for this
purpose comprised t%enty Ave full divisions and three
4avalry re"iments, four +ersa"lieri re"iments, one
!renadieri re"iment and a number of +lackshirt
battalions, %hich %ere eEuivalent to Ave additional
divisions. As he added himself this %as Ban assembly of
forces %hich %ere truly imposin"C.
As soon as he arrived in Albania, <ussolini visited and
inspected all forces of the front, even the battalions of the
Albanian volunteers, he delivered speeches and dined
%ith oIcers, stressin" the importance for 'taly of this ne%
attack.
'n the event that this "reat e8ort, %ith %hich
<ussolini had associated his personal presti"e and the
honour of 'taly, %ould be successful and his le"ions, as he
had hoped and promised *itler, mana"ed to break
throu"h the !reek front and Oood !reece, the +alkan
-eninsula %ould belon" to the A&is by the end of <arch
111. #hus, !ermany %ould not be forced to send the
enormous stren"th of D divisions a"ainst !reece and
=u"oslavia. $n the contrary, it %ould be able to orient its
forces to%ards the eastern front and to commence the
attack a"ainst :ussia by mid <ay, thus "ainin" time, of
about ( days.
#he development of the situation accordin" to those
predictions %ould have inOuenced the outcome of the
:ussian resistance, the duration of the %ar as %ell as the
Anal victory, as is accepted by military e&perts all over the
%orld, includin" the :ussians.
Aarnings of the /talian Atta.7 an" the Be.isions
of the Gree7 4igh omman"
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
154
%.*, #he concentrations of the enemy forces in the
4entral Sector, a"ainst the +3 Army 4orps, had been
noticed since @ebruary l(, by both "round and air
reconnaissance. Simultaneously, intelli"ence reports,
provided by prisoners and other sources refered to an
impendin" serious operation in the direction of !lava-
+oubessi-,lissoura. #hus, the !eneral *eadEuarters, as of
@ebruary lG, dre% the attention of the ;@AS to a possible
'talian attack in the .one of the +3 Army 4orps and placed
the '7 and 7' 6ivisions at the disposal of the ;@AS by the
end of @ebruary.
6urin" a meetin", in Athens on @ebruary D), %ith the
attendance of the ,in", the -rime <inister, the <inister of
the <ilitary and the 4ommander in 4hief, the 4ommander
of the ;@AS delivered a detailed account of the situation of
his units. @urthermore, he e&pressed his personal opinion
about a lar"e-scale operation, to "ain possession over the
area of mount #epeleni, %hich held the particular interest
of the !overnment. *is belief %as that it could not be
undertaken %ith "reat chances of success, unless there
%as a relief of the ', 9' and 97 6ivisions of the +3 Army
4orps or of their "reatest part and only follo%in" the
replacement of their casualties and a rest period of D( to
D) days. <oreover, he added that local operations, %ith
the forces that %ere already deployed in the front, %ere
not considered to be advanta"eous, since they %ould only
serve to %ear out the personnel, and e&haust supplies and
ammunitions, producin" no %orth%hile results. 'nstead, he
proposed a short period of %aitin" in order to reinforce, re-
or"anise and redeploy the units and create favourable
conditions for the assumption of lar"e scale operations, as
these %ere deAned in the principal mission of the ;@AS.
#he 4ommander of the ;@AS returned to 'oannina on
<arch 1 and, on the follo%in" day, a meetin" %as held in
the Army *eadEuarters and %as attended by the
4ommander of the ;@AS, the 4ommanders of the A3 and +3
Army 4orps and 4ro%n -rince -aul. 6urin" the meetin" it
%as decided that the operation %ould be conducted in
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order to complete the occupation of the <ed."orani-
Sendeli area, north of Aoos river and the area of ?ekli in
the valley of 6rinos south of Aoos. -articular attention %as
"iven to the co-ordination of the actions of the A3 and +3
Army 4orps.
+ased on the conclusions of the meetin", the ;@AS
issued an order to the A3 Army 4orps on the same day,
instructin" it to assist the action of the +3 Army 4orps,
that %as to commence on <arch F aimin" at the
completion of the sei.ure of the area <ed."orani-Sendeli.
#he assistance %ould include artillery Are and a co-
ordinated o8ensive e8ort from the area of !oliko to%ards
,ondra, in order to sei.e the valley of Aoos and to cut o8
the 'talian forces at ?ekli.
#he ;@AS estimated that, %ith the occupation of the
?ekli-,ondra area favourable conditions %ould be created
in order to block o8 the sector of <ou.ati and to complete
the sei.ure of the rid"eline of Sefer A"ait to%ards
#epeleni.
%.+, >hile the above events took place in the #heatre of
;pirus, other serious events of "reater overall importance
for !reece %ere happenin" in the nei"hbourin" countries
and %ithin +ul"aria in particular. #he latter had already
Koined the #ripartite -act and !erman troops be"an to
enter into its territory on <arch D and %ere advancin"
to%ards the !reek-+ul"arian borders.
#he discernible immediate threat a"ainst !reece from
that direction and the e&pected repercussions on the
troops A"htin" in the Northern ;pirus territory, forced the
!eneral *eadEuarters to issue an order on <arch l, by
%hich it decreed that, %hatever the development of the
situation in the +alkans, the mission of the A"htin" forces
in the Northern ;pirus front %as clear and deAnite and
sou"ht to2
-Secure the occupied territory and conduct active
defence.
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
156
-4onduct the necessary operations %ith vie% to the
improvement of defence conditions, %henever the
%eather conditions and the available forces %ould allo% it.
--rotect and maintain the hi"h morale of the Army
from bein" possibly a8ected by any causes or threats
re"ardless of their source.
At the same time, the !eneral *eadEuarters, in order
to prevent the potential encirclement and cut o8 that
threatened the forces of the Northern ;pirus front in the
occasion of a !erman invasion from +ul"aria, ordered on
<arch F, the ;@AS and the ><@AS to consider the possible
%ithdra%al of their forces to the line of -ieria-Aliakmonas
river-7enetikos river-Smolikas mountain-<erd.ani and
from there on to the !reek-Albanian borders or even
further to the south as far as the line of -ieria-Aliakmonas-
7enetikos-Jy"os <etsovou-Arachthos river.
@urthermore, on account of the di8erence of opinions
that arose re"ardin" the further continuation of the
operations, on <arch 0, the *i"h 4ommand proceeded to
replace the 4ommanders of the ;@AS and the A3 and +3
Army 4orps. #hus, the 4ommander of the ;@AS,
?ieutenant !eneral <arkos 6rakos, %as replaced by
?ieutenant !eneral 'oannis -itsikas, %ho had been
4ommander of the ><@AS until then and %hose
*eadEuarters %ere abolished. #he 43 Army 4orps %as
renamed and %as thereby kno%n as ><@AS, under the
command of the 4orps 4ommander ?ieutenant !eneral
!eor"ios #solako"lou. #he 4ommander of the A3 Army
4orps, ?ieutenant !eneral !eor"ios ,osmas %as replaced
by ?ieutenant !eneral -ana"hiotis 6emestihas, %ho had
been 4ommander of the ;3 Army 4orps until then and
%hose *eadEuarters %as abolished and his units had
come under the command of the ><@AS. #he 4ommander
of the +3 Army 4orps ?ieutenant !eneral 6imitrios
-apadopoulos %as replaced by the 4ommander of the '''
6ivision, <aKor !eneral !eor"ios +akos.
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Ofensive Operations to!ar"s Sen"eli an" Tepeleni
%Mar.h ' $ >* 1941+
(Sketch-map no. 1F)
%.&, Since @ebruary D0, the +3 Army 4orps
had deAned that the mission of the 97'' 6ivision %ould be
the completion of the sei.ure of <ed."orani area and the
sei.ure of the area 6amsi-,atsisti on the %estern borders
of mount Sendeli. #he operation %ould take place in t%o
phases. 6urin" the Arst phase, the rocky rid"eline to the
%est of <ed."orani villa"e %ould be taken alon" %ith
hei"hts 1D3D-+esisti, %hile in the second phase the area
,atsisti-6amsi %ould be sei.ed.
A proposal of the 4ommander of the 97'' 6ivision to
free, by preliminary action, the carria"e road ,lissoura-
6ra"oti %as accepted by the Army 4orps, in spite of its
o%n reservations re"ardin" the outcome, because of the
action of the 'talian tanks alon" that road.
#he terrain %as rou"h, precipitous and %ith deep
ravines, presentin" enormous diIculties. #he only
approach to the Sendeli mountain %as possible throu"h
the saddle of <ed."orani, %hich connects the #rebessina
mountain to the Sendeli mountain. 6espite these
diIculties, in the ni"ht of <arch D to 3, the 6ivision acted
%ith a battalion "roup, reinforced %ith an ;n"ineers
company, from the north to%ards the villa"e of
<ed."orani, in order to create footholds and a base of
attack. #he !roup mana"ed, by raidin" action, to inAltrate
deep into the deAle, establish its forces on the hei"ht F3(
and cut o8 the carria"e road, by di""in" a ditch F meters
%ide and D.G( meters deep. #hus, it mana"ed to cut o8
and then capture the entire company, the tanks, the anti-
tank and the anti-aircraft "uns that covered the deAle,
e&tendin" the control of the 6ivision by nine kilometres
%est of Sene"ol.
After the success of this probin" attack, the 6ivision
launched its attack, on <arch F, in the direction of
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
158
<ed."orani-Sendeli. 6espite the adverse %eather
conditions and the sno% depth %hich in many places had
risen to one meter, by 1(( hrs, beneAtin" from the fo"
and the e&cellent co-ordination of the artillery Are, the
6ivision mana"ed to pass throu"h the villa"e of
<ed."orani, sei.e the rocky foot to the %est of the villa"e
and to halt the retreat of the 'talians. 6urin" the same
period, the stone brid"e on the carria"e road %as taken
and destroyed in order to block o8 the movement of the
enemy tanks east%ards.
#hus, as the area north of the villa"e of <ed."orani
%as bein" ti"htly constricted, by 1F(( hrs, the enemy
resistance "ave in and the enemy forces be"an to
surrender in lar"e "roups. +y dusk, the villa"e of
<ed."orani %ith the entire area around it had been
sei.ed. <ore than 1,((( prisoners %ere taken (includin"
D( oIcers) alon" %ith their armament, and Aeld "uns, 3
anti-tank "uns and many automatic %eapons and mortars
%ere captured alon" %ith depots Alled %ith %ar supplies
and food.
6urin" the ni"ht of <arch F to G, the advance
%est%ards continued and the hei"ht 13F on the eastern
slopes of Sendeli %as sei.ed.
$n the follo%in" day, <arch G, the e8ort to occupy
the rid"eline of Sendeli continued, but the adverse
%eather conditions, the precipitous terrain and the drastic
Are of the defendin" troops, %hich %ere continuously
reinforced, did not permit an advance beyond the eastern
rid"es of the Sendeli rid"eline, %hereon the line of
defence %as Anally consolidated.
%.7,
6urin" the same period, in the .one of the A3 Army 4orps,
the '' 6ivision, in co-ordination %ith the 97'' 6ivision
operations to%ards <ed."orani-Sendeli, launched an
attack a"ainst the area of !oliko (bet%een 6rinos and
Aoos, east of #epeleni), at (01)hrs, on <arch F and, in the
area of +ou.ae Sefer A"ait (%est of 6rinos), it adopted a
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defensive attitude , in order to cover its left Oank as %ell
as the ri"ht Oank of the 7''' 6ivision. #he attackin" troops
mana"ed to repulse the enemy by close combat %est of
the !oliko hei"ht and to sei.e the hei"ht 101), takin"
about D(( prisoners. An e8ort to%ards the hei"ht ))0, in
order to envelop ?ekli villa"e and place ?ou.ati brid"e of
river 6rinos under control, failed, because in the
meantime, the enemy had created a stron" %all of forces
and eEuipment, east and south of #epeleni.
A parallel action to%ards the hei"ht F31, to place the
6ra"oti brid"e of Aoos river under control, recorded no
pro"ress. 't %as Anally sei.ed on the follo%in" day, <arch
G, after a Aerce close combat, durin" %hich 3(( 'talians
%ere taken prisoners, includin" the commander of the
defendin" battalion and his sta8. @urther advance %as
halted, due to the enemy resistance.
'n the other sectors of the front, durin" the same
period, no note%orthy events took place, e&cept for the
usual artillery and patrol activity and the action of the
enemyCs airforce. #he units dealt %ith the or"anisation of
the terrain, the improvement of the road net%ork, their
re"roupin" and the resupply. <ean%hile, administrative
movements of units took place, in order to make relieves
on the front-line or return to their parent formations.
The Great ?5rimavera@ %Spring+ Atta.7 of the /talians
% Mar.h 9$1)* 1941 +
( Sketch-map no. 1G and 11 )
%.-, So far, the feverish preparations of the
'talians in order to inOict a decisive blo% a"ainst the
!reeks have been referred. #he 'talian Army in Albania,
after a three month desperate resistance, had been
considerably reinforced in personnel and means and %as
already in a position to launch a "eneral attack. An
impressive victory %as e&pedient, in order to save its
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
160
presti"e, before the !ermans launched their o%n attack
a"ainst !reece.
*o%ever, contrary to the hopes and aspirations of
the 'talian ?eadership and of <ussolini himself for an
impressive victory, the plan that had been %orked out by
4avallero had limited "oals, since its Anal obKective %as
'oannina. #he entire operation %as assi"ned to the
;leventh Army, under the command of !eneral !elo..o,
%hile the Ninth Army, that %as deployed further to the
north, %as not even notiAed that the 'talian Army %ould
be en"a"ed in its "reatest e8ort since the be"innin" of
the %ar.
Accordin" to the plan of 4avallero, the 'talian attack
%ould be launched on <arch 1 and alon" a limited front
bet%een the rivers Aoos and Apsos, in the "eneral
direction !lava-+oubessi, so as to create a "ap and break
throu"h the valley of 6esnitsa river. #he main e8ort, alon"
a front of si& kilometres, %as assi"ned to the 7''' Army
4orps, under the command of !eneral !abara, %ith the
B4a"liariC, B-u"lieC, B-ineroloC and B+ariC 6ivisions as %ell as
t%o +lackshirt +attalions. #he 7''' Army 4orps %ould
operate bet%een the BSfor.eskaC 6ivision of the 997 Army
4orps on the ri"ht (south) and the BAlpine *untersC
6ivision of the '7 Army 4orps on the left (north).
<ore speciAcally, the plan provided for an attack in
three directions. #he main e8ort %ould be directed to the
sector of the !reek ' 6ivision. #he Arst obKective %ould be
the line -od"orani-Souka, and the second the line
,lissoura-@ratari-<ali ,ressova. #hereafter an advance
to%ards ?eskoviki-'oannina %ould be anticipated. #he Anal
result %ould be pursued by frontal attack in conKuction
%ith local envelopin" actions, immediately after the
creation of the "ap.
@rom the abovementioned and also from other
evidence, it turns out that the 'talians %ere plannin" to
advance, after breakin" throu"h the front in the sector of
the ' 6ivision, bet%een #rebessina and +oubessi, to%ards
the road Kunction of ,lissoura. #hus, havin" cut o8 the 7
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and 97'' !reek 6ivisions in #rebessina and Sendeli and
havin" repulsed the 97 and 9' 6ivisions to%ards !aronin,
they %ould break throu"h the valley of 6esnitsa.
After%ards, they %ould advance throu"h the valley of
Aoos, to%ards -remeti-?eskoviki-<erd.ani and the area of
;rseka, in order to separate the north front from the south
front and %ould then proceed in the direction of 'oannina.
%.), #he +3 Army corps, in the .one of %hich
the Anal attack %ould be launched, had the 97'', 7, ', 97
and 9' 6ivisions at its disposal, from Aoos to Apsos.
+ehind the front-line on a second echelon, as reserves of
the ;@AS, there %ere three re"iments, one from each of
the 97, 97'' front-line 6ivisions and one from the 7'
6ivision, %hich %as in the area north of ,lissoura.
@urthermore, in the area of ?iebhova villa"e (S; of
Ar"yrokastro), the '7 6ivision %as ready for a possible
move %ithin the .one of the +3 Army 4orps.
A"ainst the forces of the +3 Army 4orps, the 'talians
%ere provided %ith a Arst echelon %hich comprised, from
north to south, the DDnd BAlpine *untersC 6ivision, the
)1th B4a"liariC 6ivision, the 3Gth B-u"lieC 6ivision, the 1)D
and 1)) +lackshirt +attalions (on the saddle Sisiput and
astride the carria"eable road), the Dth 3-inerolo3 6ivision
and the Dnd BSfor.eskaC 6ivision. $n a second echelon
they had the Fth B+ariC 6ivision and, later on, the )lst
BSiennaC 6ivision and the Fth B>olves of #uscanyC 6ivision.
?astly, their reserves in the area of #epeleni %ere the D1th
B-iedmonteC 6ivision and the 131st B4entaursC Armoured
6ivision. Apart from the abovementioned forces, bet%een
Apsos and Aoos they had various +ersa"lieri re"iments as
%ell as Alpine and +lackshirts battalions at their disposal,
the total stren"th of %hich amounted to about Afteen
'nfantry battalions and t%o <achine-"un battalions.
%(., #he !reek forces, ho%ever, did not lack
in preparation for the confrontation of an impendin"
'talian attack. #he preparations of the 'talians had
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162
attracted their attention, as previously mentioned, as of
the Arst ten-day period of @ebruary and, on @ebruary 1,
the +3 Army 4orps, in accordance %ith the !eneral
*eadEuarters instructions, %hile still continuin" its local
o8ensive operations, had issued an order of defensive
or"anisation. #hus, time %as "iven to the necessary
preparation for the confrontation of the 'talian attack. #his
period %as decisive in order to complete the defence and
to create the hi"h morale of the troops, %ho had "ot used
to the idea of the impendin" enemy assault and its
repulsion.
6urin" the last fe% days before the outbreak of the
attack, the 'talian airforce escalated its activity %ith
bombardments alon" the front-line and the rear area. $n
<arch G in particular, it bombed reserves, concentrations,
artillery positions, command stations and observation
posts.
%((, #he e&pected "reat 'talian attack %as launched at
(03( hrs, on <arch 1, %ith artillery preparation that lasted
on for t%o and a half hours alon" the entire front of the +3
Army 4orps. 'n the sector of the ' 6ivision, alon" a si&
kilometre .one, the density of Are corresponded to that of
3(( "uns, -%hich Ared about 1((,((( shells- not to include
the shells of the 0( mortars of Glmm calibre of each 'talian
division en"a"ed in the attack. #he hei"hts F1F (+re"ou
:apit) and F31 %ere du" up and everythin" %as
destroyed. #he telephone communications %ere cut o8
and the smoke, dust and Oames did not allo% the fuction
of visual si"nals3 eEuipment. #he 'talian Airforce also
supported the attack, by bombin" the area.
#he attack %as launched alon" the entire front of the
' 6ivision, from hei"ht 13(G on the northern slopes of
#rebessina mountain and as far as the villa"e of +oubessi,
%here the enemy also directed its main e8ort in order to
create a "ap. #he enemy attacked %ith similar intensity
a"ainst the hei"ht F31 as %ell, but the defenders of the
hei"ht decimated the attackers by close combat and
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forced them to fall back. A ne% e8ort of the 'talians, %ith
another unit, mana"ed to sei.e the hei"ht F1F ()((m
%est of F31), an advanced outpost %hich %as outside the
defensive area. #he hei"ht %as soon recaptured by
counter-attack. At appro&imately 1D(( hrs, the 'talians
launched a ne% attack a"ainst the hei"hts 1(0(, ,iafe
?ou.it, F31 and F1F, only mana"in" to recapture hei"ht
F1F that %as o8 the defensive disposition.
At 1(( hrs and 10)( hrs, t%o ne% attacks a"ainst
the hei"hts ,iafe ?ou.it-F31 and +re"ou :apit failed as
%ell, %ith the enemy su8erin" considerable losses. #hus,
durin" the Arst day, the enemy attack a"ainst the sector
of the ' 6ivision, %here the main e8ort %as directed, %as
a Oat failure, despite the successive attempts and the
over%helmin" support of the abundant means of Are and
the 11( aircraft, of %hich F( %ere bombers. #he 'talian
losses %ere e&tremely heavy.
%(%, #he +3 Army 4orps, after ascertainin"
durin" the course of the battle that the enemy %as
directin" its main e8ort in the .one of the ' 6ivision,
proceeded to reinforce the division %ith a ne% re"iment
from the 7' 6ivision and %ith t%o additional battalions
from its o%n reserves.
'n the .one of the 97 6ivision that %as en"a"ed in
defence further to the north of the ' 6ivision, the enemy
met %ith a similar fate and its successive attacks %ere
repulsed %ith heavy casualties. At the ri"ht Oank of the
Army 4orps that %as occupied by the 9' 6ivision, the
enemy sou"ht to "ain possession of the +re"ou ?ioulei
and the <ali Spandarit hei"hts %ith Aerce attacks that
%ere, ho%ever, repulsed by the defendin" troops. #he
same fate befell the attack in the .one of the 7 6ivision,
%hich %as en"a"ed in defence further to the south of the '
6ivision in #rebessina.
#he 97'' 6ivision -%hich, as mentioned, %as
conductin" o8ensive operations since <arch F, to the
north of Aoos river as far as the saddle of <ed."orani-
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164
also succeeded in confrontin" the 'talian attack %ithin its
.one that %as directed %ith "reater intensity a"ainst the
hei"ht 13F and the saddle of <ed."orani.
'n the sector of the '' 6ivision, south of Aoos, the
'talian activity %as conAned to severe shellin" %ith
artillery and mortars. #hus, the Arst day of the "reat
BSprin"C attack of the 'talians ended %ith entirely
insi"niAcant territorial "ains on their part, despite their
enormous e8ort and to the "reat disappointment of
<ussolini, %ho had been %atchin" its development durin"
the %hole day from his observatory on the ,omarit hei"ht
(!lava). #he +3 Army 4orps kept the main defensive area
intact, and its troops that had su8ered the attack fou"ht
back %ith e&ceptional coura"e and hi"h morale.
%(/, +y (0) hrs in the follo%in" mornin", <arch l(, the
'talians rene%ed their o8ensive e8ort by attackin" the
area of the ' 6ivision %ith the sustained Are of the artillery
and infantry, the intensity of %hich %ere similar to the
shellin" of 7erden durin" the @irst >orld >ar. ;verythin"
%as du" up a"ain, but the heroic A"hters remained
unshaken. Successive attacks ensued a"ainst the hei"hts
F3l, +re"ou :apit and #rebessina, that lasted the entire
day, failin", ho%ever, to produce any result and causin"
heavy casualties on the 'talian side. #he A"ht %as hard
and, in many cases, the !reek troops %ere forced to
confront the enemy by force of bayonet.
A :e"iment of the B-u"lieC 6ivision movin" as of
111)hrs alon" the carria"e road, %hich attempted to
envelop the hei"ht F31 from the south, %as hit by the
sustained Are of all Arms from the occupied hei"hts
#rebessina-,iafe ?ou.it and F3l, and %as thus overthro%n
and forced to disband. Another envelopin" action of the
'talians throu"h the ravine of -roi <ath %as similarly
halted before the hei"ht F31.
#he +3 Army 4orps, ackno%led"in" the outstandin"
action of the ' 6ivision durin" the t%o-day A"ht, issued the
follo%in" order on <arch 1(.
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B <ighters of the / Bivision
Before your in"efatigable heroism sin.e yester"ay all
"esperate enemy attempts have been shattere"2 Before
your lines of steel* three ne! Bivisions !ere .rushe"
"uring the t!o "ay perio"2 / am prou" of being in
.omman" of su.h heroes2 The <atherlan" is also prou" of
you2 This or"er shoul" be .ommuni.ate" "o!n to the last
sol"ier of the Bivision2
MaCor General G2 Ba7os B
As of (F((hrs, in the sector of the 97 6ivision, the
heavy shellin" of the artillery and mortars that %as mainly
directed a"ainst the +oubessi (hei"ht F1() and the hei"ht
G01 centre of resistance, %as follo%ed by successive
attacks %hich %ere repulsed %ith serious losses on the
enemyCs side.
'n the sector of the 9' 6ivision, the sustained Are of
the artillery and mortars lasted from (0)( hrs to (G(( hrs
%ith particular intensity a"ainst the hei"ht <ali Spandarit,
a"ainst %hich a po%erful 'talian attack %as launched at
(13( hrs. #he close combat that ensued, under thick fo"
and pourin" rain, ended in a !reek victory. ;nemy troops
that had mana"ed to inAltrate throu"h to the south of <ali
Spandarit, hidden in the fo", %ere destroyed by the
counter-attacks of a battalion that advanced in time to
re"ain control of the area.
#he 97'' 6ivision, accordin" to a previous plan,
launched an attack to sei.e the hei"ht 10D3 of #rebessina
%est of the hei"ht 13F, but the e&tremely adverse
conditions and the barra"e of Are forced it to halt its
attack.
'n the sectors of the '' and 7 6ivisions, the enemy
attacked %ith its artillery and mortars, poundin" mainly
a"ainst the hei"ht of -unta Nord.
%(*, #he third day of the o8ensive e8ort to
break throu"h the area commenced at (3(hrs, %ith the
same momentum as on the previous days and %ith the
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
166
main e8ort once a"ain directed a"ainst the hei"ht F3l.
#he defenders %ere on the alert and counter-acted %ith a
barra"e of Are and an immediate counter-attack, thus
causin" the attackers a"ainst both the hei"ht F31 and the
+re"ou :apit to break up.
#he enemy, to"ether %ith the frontal attack,
proceeded in the direction of *ani 7inoka.it, continuin"
the envelopin" action that had been launched throu"h the
ravine of -roi <ath and %hich had been halted
temporarily. 6espite the thick fo" that prevailed, the anti-
tank artillery troops positioned in the ravine %ere able to
perceive the 'talian inAltration in time and directed their
sustained Are a"ainst it from the sides and the rear.
-andemonium follo%ed. #he 'talians frantically rushed to
their safety, but as they %ere Ared a"ainst from all
directions, they %ere eventually decimated. #he Are Anally
ceased at noon, %hen the 'talians raised %hite kerchiefs
all alon" the -roi <ath ravine and surrendered unarmed
%ith their hands in the air. #he mop up of the ravine
delivered )D1 prisoners, includin" three senior oIcers.
#here %ere D)( dead counted and all kind of %ar supplies
%ere sei.ed.
<ean%hile, there %as an escalation of the bombin"s
of the !reek positions in #rebessina-,iafe ?ou.it and F31,
a"ainst %hich the enemy launched a ne% po%erful attack.
#he A"ht continued %ith obstinacy on the entire front of
the ' 6ivision until 13((hrs, %hereupon the attack %as
Anally confronted %ith terrible losses for the enemy. A ne%
attack follo%in" stron" bombardin" a"ainst the hei"ht
+re"ou :apit faced a similar fate.
'n the sector of the 97 6ivision, after heavy shellin"
by the artillery, the 'talians launched t%o attacks (at (G((
hrs and at 10(( hrs), %hich %ere repulsed %ith heavy
losses.
'n the sector of the 97'' 6ivision, after an eEually
heavy shellin", the enemy attacked the hei"hts
<ed."orani and 13F, but here too, its forces %ere
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repulsed %ith "reat losses. #%o ne% successive attacks at
1F(( hrs and at 113( hrs %ere once a"ain repulsed.
'n the sectors of the 7 and 9' 6ivisions, the poundin"
of the area %ith sustained artillery and mortar Are %as
continued, %hile small-scale enemy attacks %ere
successfully repulsed.
'n the sector of the '' 6ivision too, the activity of the
enemy artillery did not display the intensity of the t%o
previous days.
#hus, the third day of the attack ended, %ithout the
'talians bein" able to Bset footC on the main defensive area
of the +3 Army 4orps. #he losses of the 'talian B-u"lieC
6ivision that %as A"htin" a"ainst the ' 6ivision and those
of the +lackshirts battalions %ere enormous, forcin" the
'talian command to advance the reserve B+ariC 6ivision to
the above area on <arch 11 and on the ni"ht of 11 to 1D.
%(+, At (() hrs on <arch 1D, a ne% 'talian attack
%as launched in the sector of the ' 6ivision, a"ainst the
hei"hts F31 and +re"ou :apit, %ith the support of artillery.
#he attach also spread on the hei"ht ,iafe ?ou.it %as
e&tremely vi"orous and %as conducted by intact units of
the ne%ly-committed to action B+ariC 6ivision. #he enemy
had velied on the surprise, but the !reek troops, that had
stepped up the alert, confronted the attackers %ith a
dense barra"e of Are and repulsed them by close combat.
At ()3( hrs, the attack %as repeated %ithout any
preparation -it %as the eleventh in a ro%- in the sector
from the hei"ht 1(0( of #rebessina to the hei"ht +re"ou
:apit. #he counter-action of the defendin" !reek troops
%as immediate and decisive, forcin" the 'talians that %ere
en"a"ed in the attack a"ainst the hei"hts 1(0( and ,iafe
?ou.it to be held in position by the barra"e of defence Are.
<ean%hile, on the hei"ht F3l, the A"ht continued until
(0) hrs, %hereupon the attackers %ere Anally repulsed
by hand-"renades and bayonet.
At (13( hrs enemy troops attempted to inAltrate
throu"h to ,iafe ?ou.it, but %ere hit by the heavy Are of
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168
the artillery and fell back. As of 11(( hrs, the enemy
activity %as conAned to artillery shellin" throu"hout the
entire area of the ' 6ivision front.
'n the sector of the 97 6ivision, the 'talians
conducted t%o attacks a"ainst +oubessi, %hich %ere
repulsed.
'n the sectors of the '', 7, and 9' 6ivisions, the
artillery Are continued durin" the entire D-hour period.
'n the sector of the 97'' 6ivision, a raid to%ards the
south-%est of <ed."orani, conducted by t%o sEuads
headed by a @irst ?ieutenant, resulted in capturin" 1D
'talian oIcers and DD3 soldiers at their base of attack.
#he "lorious success of this small detachment came as a
surprise even to the 'talian prisoners, as soon as they
realised its actual stren"th.
#he fourth day ended, like the previous one, %ith a
Oat failure of the 'talians. #his situation "reatly alarmed
<ussolini, %ho had been %atchin" the development of the
attack from the day of its commencement. $n the
mornin" of <arch lD, the fourth day of the 'talian attack,
<ussolini received a report of !eneral !elo..o,
4ommander of the '' Army, by %hich he claimed that the
%hole operation %as to be re"arded as a failure. After this,
on the evenin" of the same day, <ussolini convoked a
meetin" of all the ?ar"e Hnit commanders, in order to
assess the situation, as it had developed and %hich %as
turnin" into a Oat failure for the attackers.
6urin" the meetin", <ussolini stressed the need to
continue the o8ensive %ith all available forces, in order to
achieve the obKectives before the !ermans launched their
o%n attack a"ainst !reece in the be"innin" of April, as
%as e&pected, and concluded as follo%s2
B' have al%ays done my utmost to keep the name and
presti"e of the 'talian Army hi"h but it is no% e&pedient to
alter the situation. ' have told his ;&cellency !u..oni to
send all e&istin" supplies in 'taly here, because the 'talian
Army is here, the %ar is here, and it is here that %e must
%inC.
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$n the basis of this decision of his to provide all the
means of support reEuired for the success of the o8ence,
at D11) hrs, he summoned !eneral -riccolo, 4hief of the
Airforce !eneral Sta8 and ordered him to place the entire
Airforce at the disposal of the o8ensive operations.
%(&, $n the follo%in" day, by noon, the front of the '
6ivision displayed the usual shellin" action of the artillery
and mortars. As of 133( hrs, a vi"orous bombardment
started throu"hout the entire front of the 6ivision,
coverin" the entire depth of its .one.
At 1)3( hrs an e&tremely po%erful attack %as
launched a"ainst the hei"hts F31 and +re"ou :apit, %hile
simultaneously, 31 A"hter aircraft, %hich escorted D(-D)
bombers, %hich %ere bombin" in "roups of ), %ere
continuously Oyin" over the 6ivision sector and bombin"
the artillery and reserve positions, %hile incessantly
straAn" the front-line troops.
#he A"ht %as conducted %ith unprecedented
obstinacy. >herever the attackers mana"ed to approach
the trenches, their brave defenders %ould sprin" from
them %ith A&ed bayonets and %ould overrun them by a
hand to hand A"ht. #he A"ht lasted until the evenin",
%hereupon the attackers %ere Anally overrun. #he losses
%ere "reat on both sides. At 1G(( hrs, the 'talians
launched a ne% attack %ithout artillery preparation
a"ainst the hei"ht F3l, the thirteenth in a ro%, %hich %as
also repulsed.
'n the sectors of the 7, 9', 97 and 97'' 6ivisions,
there %as only artillery action takin" place, %ith particular
intensity a"ainst the 4entre of resistance of hei"ht F1(
(+oubessi) and south, as far as ,iafe ?ou.it. #he 'talian
Airforce, %ith D(( sorties in consecutive %aves,
bombarded the entire .one of the +3 Army 4orps and, in
particular, hei"hts 13(G, ,iafe ?ou.it and <ali Spandarit.
#hus the Afth day of continuous A"htin" ended, %ith
a complete failure for the 'talians, in spite of the
e&hortations, admonitions and a"onised pleas of
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170
<ussolini, the massive use of the Airforce and the terrible
barra"e of their Artillery. #he brave defenders of the
hei"hts F31 and +re"ou :apit retained their positions
unshaken and overran the successive attacks a"ainst
them.
%(7, #he ni"ht of <arch 13 to 1 displayed the usual
artillery and mortar activity. >ithin the sector of the '
6ivision, the 'talians, as of ((3( hrs, be"an to advance
small sections to the -roi 7eles ravine, north of +re"ou
:apit, %hich %ere, nevertheless, perceived at da%n and
%ere thereafter held in position. A !reek counter-attack
%as launched and the 'talian troops %ere forced to retreat
in disarray, abandonin", apart from the %ar supplies,
about D) prisoners as %ell.
'n the mornin", heavy shellin" by the artillery
recommenced a"ainst the ri"ht Oank of the 6ivision
%ithout interruption until 1((( hrs, %hereupon the 'talians
once a"ain launched an e&tremely vi"orous counter-attack
a"ainst the hei"hts F31 and +re"ou :apit %ith a re"iment
of the B+ariC 6ivision and a re"iment of the B4a"liariC
6ivision respectively. #he A"ht lasted until 1D3( hrs and
the attackers %ere repulsed %ith e&tremely "rave losses.
#he shellin" of the artillery and the bombin" of the
airforce a"ainst the front of the 6ivision continued and at
1)(( hrs a ne% attack, the Afteenth, %as launched
a"ainst the hei"hts F31 and +re"ou :apit.
#he A"ht %as relentless %ith alternatin" phases until
1F(( hrs. 6urin" this period, the 'talians succeeded in
Bsettin" footC on the %est of the hei"ht F1F and for the
Arst time on the front-lines of the hei"ht F3l, but only for a
very short %hile. >ith a stron" counter-attack, their heroic
defenders overran the attackers, %ho abandoned on site a
considerable number of automatic %eapons, mortars and
prisoners.
An attempt of the enemy to concentrate its forces in
the -roi 7eles ravine and to reor"anise them for a ne%
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attack a"ainst the hei"ht F1F, %as impeded by the Are of
the artillery.
At 1G(( hrs, the 'talians launched a ne% surprise
attack a"ainst the hei"ht F3l, the si&teenth in a ro%, %ith
no artillery preparation, yet %ith a vi"orous bombardment
of the remainder of the 6ivision .one. #he attack %as
repulsed at 113( hrs. #he same fate befell the attack that
%as launched a"ainst the hei"ht 1(0(, on the left Oank of
the 6ivision.
#he A"ht %as marked by such violence from the very
Arst day of the attack, that the forest coverin" the hei"hts
F31 and F1F (+re"ou :apit) disappeared as if full-scale
timberfellin" had been conducted beforehand.
'n the sectors of the 9', 97 and 97'' 6ivisions , only
limited artillery action %as recorded.
'n the sector of the 7 6ivision, t%o attacks %ere
launched a"ainst the hei"ht -unta Nord, at (F(( hrs and
at 1D(( hrs, and %ere repulsed. 6urin" the si&th day of
the attack the 'talians also failed completely.
#he successive attacks and the continuous bombin"s
of the 'talian Airforce, that came in %aves and %hich had
e&ceeded 3(( sorties durin" that day, could not shake the
heroic A"hters of the ' 6ivision.
%(-, $n the follo%in" day, until 13(( hrs, calmness
prevailed, thou"h a little later, the enemy artillery a"ain
be"an to Are e8ectively a"ainst the hei"hts F31 and
+re"ou :apit and, from time to time, a"ainst the hei"hts
,iafe ?ou.it and <a.iani.
#he shellin" continued until 1G3( hrs and at D((( hrs
the 'talians launched a surprise attack a"ainst the hei"ht
F3l, %ithout any artillery preparation. >ith the
commencement of the attack, ho%ever, the artillery
support %as immediate and almost covered the entire
front of the 6ivision simultaneously. #he A"ht %as
stubborn, but, in the end, the attack %as repulsed at
appro&imately D1(( hrs, by hand-"renades and direct
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
172
counter-attacks. #he losses %ere considerable on both
sides.
'n the sectors of the '', 7, 9', 97 and 97'' 6ivisions,
only artillery action %as recorded, %ithout any o8ensive
moves.
#he seventh day of the 'talian attack <arch 1), %as
decisive, since its Anal Oat failure, convinced the 'talian
?eadership that the BSprin" AttackC, on %hich it had placed
so many hopes and %hich had been prepared in every
detail, supported by numerous troops, %as an unmiti"ated
disaster.
$n the previous day, <arch l, in a discussion
bet%een <ussolini and <arshal 4avallero, the latter had
supported that if the attack of the ne&t day %as to fail, the
action %ould have to be suspended and stren"th %ould
have to be saved so as to resume action at a later date.
#hus, after the failure of the attack on <arch l), the
'talian ?eadership decided the "radual suspension of
operations, a%aitin" more advanta"eous conditions, yet
%ith the A&ed perspective of <ussolini, to secure even a
small success before the !erman attack a"ainst !reece.
%(), #he !reek 4ommander in chief, in appreciation of
the "lorious feat of the +3 Army 4orps units and, above all,
the self-sacriAce and heroism of the men of the ' 6ivision,
that had taken on the %ei"ht of the 'talian attack and had
repulsed it successfully, communicated his follo%in" $rder
of the 6ay, on the ni"ht of <arch 1) 2
,The seven$"ay efort that the enemy is ma7ing
against you* has not sha7en you* it has given you a ne!
o..asion to prove yet on.e again your glorious virtues
an" above all your faith as to the righteousness of your
struggle2
The struggle of over four months !hi.h you are
vi.toriously .on"u.ting has .overe" you !ith laurels of
unsurpassable glory2 The efort of the enemy is .rushe"*
your !ill remains unbo!e" an" your .onvi.tion as to the
vi.tory un"iminishe"2
173 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

Our 6ntire Army that Dou of the entral <ront so
gloriously represent an" to the history of !hi.h you have
a""e" ne! glorious pages* is !at.hing you an" a"miring
you2 / a""ress the !armest of .ongratulations2
;ong ;ive the Gree7 Army
Al2 5apagos2
omman"er in .hief C
Gra"ual Sla.7ening of an" Suspension of the /talian
Ofensive
% Mar.h 18$(8* 1941 +
( Sketch-map no. 11 )
%%., @rom the mornin" of <arch 10 and
until <arch lG, the front of the +3 Army 4orps presented
the usual picture before the attack, i.e. the e&chan"e of
artillery Are, patrol activity and limited action of the 'talian
Airforce.
#he !reek 4ommand, estimatin" that the 'talians had
e&hausted the possibilities of repeatin" their o8ensive
actions on a lar"e scale, decided to redeploy the forces in
the 4entral Sector, in order to relieve those units %hich
had been sorely tried. #hus, on <arch l0, the ;@AS, by
approval of the !eneral *eadEuarters, ordered the
follo%in" redistribution of the divisions %ithin the sector of
the +3 Army 4orps2 $n the Arst echelon, 6ivisions '7, 7, 7'
and 97'', %ere placed, the 7' bet%een the rivers Apsos
and 6esnitsa, the 97'' bet%een 6esnitsa and the eastern
slopes of #rebessina, the 7 from the villa"e of Art.a di
<e..o and as far as -unta Nord-saddle of <ed."orani and
the '7 (movin" from the area of Ar"yrokastro) astride
Aoos, from the saddle of <ed."orani to !oliko.
$n the second echelon, the ' and 97 6ivisions east of
,lissoura %ould remain as reserves of the ;@AS* and the 9'
6ivision in the area :oden--sari as a reserve of the
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
174
!eneral *eadEuarters. #he replacement of the ' 6ivision
by the 97'' 6ivision %ould take place by <arch D3, %hile
the re-arran"ements of the other divisions %ould have to
be completed by the end of <arch.
%%(, After a three day respite, on <arch l1, the 'talians
launched a ne% attack, the ei"hteenth in succession,
a"ainst the hei"ht F3l, that stood like an impre"nable
rock, on %hich all ra"in" attacks of the enemy %ere
shattered.
#he attack %as launched at (03( hrs, after intense
shellin" of the F31-,iafe ?ou.it hei"hts and #rebessina, by
elite troops of the BSiennaC 6ivision, that had been
specially trained for this operation and %ere supported by
li"ht combat tanks. #he infantry troops, takin" advanta"e
of the sustained shellin", mana"ed to approach the
southern shoulders of the hei"ht F3l. *o%ever, there they
%ere encircled by the counter-attackin" !reek troops and
after bein" depleted, they %ere pushed back at
appro&imately (F( hrs, abandonin" more than 1(( killed
in action. As for the tanks, t%o of them fell into the -roi
<ath ravine, one %as destroyed before hei"ht F31 and the
others retreated to their base of departure.
#he repulsion of the attack %as follo%ed by an
e&tremely heavy shellin" by the 'talian artillery, due to
%hich most of the Aeld defences at F31 hei"ht %ere s%ept
a%ay. 'n the remainin" sectors of the +3 Army 4orps, no
note%orthy activity %as recorded.
%%%, 'n the area of the 97'' 6ivision, at DD(( hrs, on
<arch D(, the 'talians launched a po%erful attack from
Aoos to the hei"ht 13F, %est of <ed."orani. ;ven thou"h
the attack %as supported by a volume of artillery and
mortars, it %as repulsed at appro&imately D(( hrs. As of
the evenin" of <arch Dl, the 97'' 6ivision troops at Sendeli
be"an to be replaced by troops from the '7 6ivision. #he
97'' 6ivision, concentrated in the area -anariti, :iba,
!oritsa. #here, it attended to the re-or"anisation and
175 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

repose of its units until the evenin" of <arch D,
%hereupon it commenced, %ith delay, the "radual
replacement of the ' 6ivision troops and parts of the 97
6ivision, terminatin" its task on April D. #he delay in the
commencement of this replacement %as due to the
abovementioned 'talian attack a"ainst the 97'' 6ivision.
'n the sector of the 7 6ivision there %as no important
activity recorded from <arch D( to DG.
'n the sector of the ' 6ivision, <arch D1 %ent by
%ithout any note%orthy events. At (13( hrs on <arch DD,
a "roup of 'talian messen"ers, comprisin" three army
priests and a number of litter bearers, appeared before
the !reek lines on the hei"ht F3l. :epresentin" the 'talian
4ommand, they proposed a cease-Are of to 0 hours, to
bury the dead. #he !reek 4ommand, after a
communication bet%een the ' 6ivision and the +3 Army
4orps, accepted the 'talian proposal. 'n parallel, it set
terms of %hich the most basic one %as that, the cease-Are
had been reEuested by the 'talians, and that, the burial of
the dead from the hei"ht F1F and further east as far as
the -roi <ath ravine south%ards, %ould be conducted by
!reek troops in the presence of unarmed 'talians from
their medical corps.
#he proposals of the !reeks %ere not accepted by the
'talians and the A"ht re-commenced. Nevertheless, the
representative of the !reek 4ommand, 4ommander of the
1Q0F battalion of the 97'' 6ivision, had the opportunity to
traverse the terrain in front of the !reek lines and
ascertain the terrible massacre su8ered by the 'talians in
their attacks a"ainst the hei"ht F3l. #he same oIcer, in a
report %ith re"ard to the situation, related that, even
thou"h he had %itnessed pictures of massacre in the
battleAelds of <acedonia and Asia <inor, the macabre and
horrifyin" spectacle that he %as faced %ith, in the area
bet%een the hei"hts F31 and F1F, %ent beyond all
bounds of his ima"ination. #he entire visible .one
(appro&imately 1)( meters %ide) of the rid"eline bet%een
the t%o hei"hts %as covered %ith corpses stre%n in
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
176
heaps, amon"st %hich mutilated members of the
slau"htered A"hters protruded. #he macabre picture %as
hei"htened by the vie% of the deadly embrace of
adversaries, many of %hich %ere !reek. A similar si"ht
%as also bound to be encountered on the slopes to%ards
the -roi <ath and -roi 7eles ravines.
#he terrible losses su8ered by the 'talians before the
hei"ht F3l, Kustify their decision to build the monument to
honor their men %ho fell A"htin" in Albania, on that
hei"ht, %hich they named Bthe Sacred !roundC.
%%/, $n the ni"ht of <arch DD to D3, the
'talians shelled the .one of the ' 6ivision %ith intensity, in
retaliation for the !reek refusal to accept the cease-Are to
bury their dead on their o%n terms. #he shellin"
continued durin" the entire day and %as particularly
heavy a"ainst the hei"ht F31. At ((D( hrs on <arch D,
they launched another surprise attack a"ainst the hei"ht
F3l, %here they %e repulsed once a"ain at (1D( hrs by its
brave defenders. #he attack %as repeated at (33( hrs,
but it %as also repulsed %ith heavy losses for the
attackin" side.
<arch D) and D0 %ent by %ith limited activity and the
6ivision troops dealt %ith the terrain or"anisation and
strove to increase the stren"th of their position.
'n the sector of the 97 6ivision, no note%orthy events
took place from <arch D( to D0, e&cept for artillery and
patrol activity, terrain or"anisation and the preparation for
the relief that %ould occur at the end of the month.
'n the sector of the 9' 6ivision, there %ere no
note%orthy actions durin" the same period. @rom the
evenin" of <arch D0, its relief by the 7' 6ivision
commenced. #he 9' 6ivision %as to complete its
concentration in the area :oden-+ali--sari, by the ni"ht of
April 3 to , as a reserve of the !eneral *eadEuarters,
leavin" one detachment ( 4olonel =iannakopoulos) north
of Apsos under the command of the ><@AS.
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%%*, #he casualties of the !reek units that
had participated in the A"ht to repulse the 'talian BSprin"C
attack, %ere F oIcers and 1,110 soldiers killed in action,
l oIcers and 3,GFD soldiers %ounded and D soldiers
missin" in action. #he ' 6ivision, %hich had taken on the
principal load of the 'talian attack, su8ered the heaviest
casualties.
#he casualties of the 'talians durin" the same period,
accordin" to the records of oIcial 'talian sources,
e&ceeded 11,G(( killed in action and %ounded.
@urthermore, the number of the 'talian prisoners, from
/anuary F to the end of <arch 111, %ere 1G1 oIcers and
F,0) soldiers.
%%+, #he 'talian BSprin"C attack did not have any serious
e8ect on the other sectors of the front, nor did it
ne"atively a8ect the morale of the forces. 'n fact, in reply
to a relevant soundin" by the !eneral *eadEuarters %ith
re"ard to the assumption of diversionary o8ensive
operations in the sector of ,amia--o"radet., the ><@AS
reported that it %as ready and fully convinced of the
success of its actions. 'n the end, the !eneral
*eadEuarters did not undertake to implement the
abovementioned action, in order to economise mainly on
artillery ammunitions.
#hus, its activity in both the Southern and Northern
Sectors %as limited to artillery and patrol action. Attacks
%ere launched only a"ainst troops of the '' 6ivision in the
Southern Sector and troops of the 97' in the Northern
sector, that %ere adKoinin" the area of the +3 Army 4orps.
*o%ever, all these attacks %ere repulsed successfully and
%ith "reat losses for the 'talians.
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
178
The /nglorious 6n" of the /talian Atta.7
%%&, All the above is a detailed account of
the development of the 'talian BSprin"C attack, %hich
constituted the most serious e8ort of the 'talians since the
be"innin" of the %ar. #he momentum of the attackers
be"an to "radually slacken o8 since <arch l. $ne last
e8ort made by the 'talians in order to sei.e the fou"ht-for
F31 hei"ht, %ith the use of tanks, %as an unmiti"ated
disaster and convinced <ussolini of the inability of the
'talian army to resolve the situation, despite the "reat
sacriAces and the heroic attitude of its troops.
'n the mornin" of <arch D1, <ussoli humiliated and
disheartened, departed from the airport of #irana to
:ome.
'n his report submitted to ,in" Hmberto, an attitude
of resentment approachin" hostility to%ards the military
leadership is prevalent, as underlined by !eneral
4avallero and conArmed by the 4hief of the Airforce
!eneral Sta8 and trusted collea"ue of <ussolini, !eneral
-riccolo, to %hom he stated on the eve of his departure
for :ome2 B' have summoned you, for ' have decided to
return to :ome %ithin the follo%in" day. ' have been
dis"usted by this environment. >e have not moved one
step for%ard. So far ' have been deceived. ' have deep
contempt for all these peopleC. *e refered to his military
leaders.
$n his return to 'taly, <ussolini %as still nourishin" a
small hope that, the repetition of the attack a"ainst the
!reeks, prepared for the end of <arch, %ould "ive him at
least a small success in order to be able to face his
!erman allies %ithout shame. *e %as once a"ain
disillusioned, ho%ever, for in the meantime, a coup d3 etat
in +erl"rade, overthre% the pro-a&is !overnment of
4vetkovitch %hich, on <arch D), had ali"ned =u"oslavia
%ith the #ripartite -act.
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#he coup d3 etat brou"ht the !overnment of Simovich
into po%er, %hich sided %ith the %estern allies. #hus, the
ne% situation created in =u"oslavia forced the 'talians to
take measures in the direction of the =u"oslavian borders
on Albania, and to cancel the ne% attack planned a"ainst
the !reek front, a%aitin" the !erman assault a"ainst
!reece that %ould relieve them from the dead-end
situation to %hich they had been led by the heroic
resistance of the !reek Army and the national solidarity of
the !reeks.
A General :evie! of the Operations "uring the (n"
an" 9r"
5erio" of the Gree7 $ /talian Aar
% 3ovember 14* 194E to Mar.h (8* 1941 +
%%7, #he operations conducted from November 1,
11( until <arch D0, 111, constitute the second and third
periods of the !reek-'talian %ar.
6urin" the second period, from November 1, 11(
to /anuary 0, 111, the !reek Army, after havin"
contained the advance of the intruders, assumed a
"eneral counter-attack, in order to restore in full the
inte"rity of the national territory. 4onfronted %ith adverse
conditions, due to the superiority of the adversary in
armament and airforce, the rou"hness of the terrain, the
"reat diIculties in the re-supply and the severity of the
untimely %inter, the Army made superhuman e8orts, that
bore results beyond any e&pectation.
'n the Southern Sector, the A3 Army 4orps, after
occupyin" the harbour of A"ii Saranda on 6ecember 0 and
the to%n of Ar"yrokastro on 6ecember G, continued its
o8ensive operations and by /anuary 0 had taken the line
*imara-7ranitsa-+oliena, thus creatin" favourable
conditions for the full-scale breakthrou"h of the Siousitsa
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
180
river valley and the continuation of the advance to%ards
Avlonas.
'n the 4entral Sector , the +3 Army 4orps, after
occupyin" -remeti on 6ecember ) and securin" in full the
free use of the carria"e road ?eskoviki-,oritsa, mana"ed
to reach, by the end of 6ecember and despite the
stubborn resistance of the enemy, appro&imately 1)
kilometres east of the road ,lissoura-*ani +alaban and
%as ready to sei.e the Kunction of ,lissoura.
'n the Northern Sector, the ><@AS (43 and ;3 Army
4orps), after occupyin" the mountain bulk of <orova-'van
on November D1 and the Kunction of ,oritsa on the
follo%in" day, advanced %est of the Kunction to a depth of
appro&imately ( kilometres alon" the line $uyianikou-
mount Souka"ora-!rambova-mount ,amia--o"radet.,
securin" the hi"h plateau of ,oritsa from the %est and
north-%est.
6urin" the operations of the second period, the
'talian 4ommand committed ei"ht ne% 'nfantry 6ivisions
to the action, the Dnd Alpine B#ridentinaC, the th Alpine
B,ouneenseC, the 11th B+renneroC, the 33rd BAEuiC, the 3Fth
B<odenaC, the Gth B#aroC, the )(th Alpine B-ousteriaC, the
)3rd BAre..oC, as %ell as a lar"e number of various other
units, of re"iment or battalion stren"th.
6urin" the same period, the !reek 4ommand
committed seven ne% 'nfantry 6ivisions, to the action,
namely the '', ''', '7, 9, 9', 9''', and 97'' 6ivisions.
'n total, the 'talian forces in the Albanian #heatre of
$perations amounted to 1) 'nfantry 6ivisions and one
Armoured 6ivision, a"ainst 11 'nfantry 6ivisions, one
'nfantry +ri"ade and one 4avalry 6ivision of the !reek
forces. @urthermore, %hat must be taken into
consideration is that the 'talian Airforce had total
numerical supremacy and that the !reek Army %as
completely lackin" tanks.
Nevertheless, the o8ensive operations of the !reek
forces %ere cro%ned %ith success. #he !reek Army,
ho%ever, lacked in armoured and motorised vehicles, thus
181 !:;;, A:<= >'N#;: $-;:A#'$NS-'#A?'AN -:'<A7;:A A##A4,

there %as no possibility to take advanta"e of the o8ensive
actions, even if there had been opportunities %hich could
have borne important results. #his %eakness compelled
the !reek forces to avoid the .ones of the plains and to
conduct their moves and manoeuvres from mountainous
directions mainly. #his resulted in the e&tension of the
columns, added to the fati"ue of troops, and pack animals
and created diIculties in the re-supply.
$n the contrary, by virtue of the means available to
the enemy forces, in the .ones of the plains, %ith the use
of motor vehicles, the adversary %as able to %ithdra% in
haste and establish its troops else%here at relative ease.
'n the mountainous areas, the enemy %as able to delay
the !reek advance %ith a relatively small number of
forces. <oreover, the 'talian units that %ere ne%ly
committed to the action, %ere Euickly transferred to the
front %ith motor vehicles, %hereas the !reek ones lacked
such means of transportation and arrived at the front
after lon" ni"ht marches unable to Koin the action.
#he !reek troops, preservin" a hi"h morale and
emanatin" a spirit of self-sacriAce defyin" the hardships
and their disadvanta"eous position a"ainst the adversary,
had mana"ed, %ithin, a month and a half not only to
chase a%ay the intruder but also to repulse him into the
Northern ;pirus territory, to a depth ran"in" from 3( to G(
kms, addin" ne% pa"es of "lory to the a"e-lon" !reek
*istory.
%%-, #he third period, from /anuary F to
<arch D0, 111, covers the o8ensive operations of the +3
Army 4orps to%ards ,lissoura-7erati, the local 'talian
attack to recapture ,lissoura and the "reat BSprin"C attack
of the 'talians.
#he +3 Army 4orps, seekin" to take possession of the
road Kunction of ,lissoura and to advance its forces in the
direction of 7erati, sei.ed ,lissoura on /anuary l(, after a
series of hard stru""les, and by /anuary D), had advanced
to the "eneral line of the hei"ht 13(G (of #rebessina)-
#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
182
+oubessi- <ali Spandarit. #here, it suspended its further
operations, on account of adverse %eather conditions and
diIculties in the re-supply of its troops.
$n /anuary D0, after stabilisin" their positions to a
certain de"ree, the 'talians attempted to recapture the
road Kunction of ,lissoura, to %hich they attached "reat
importance. #he 'talian attack %as launched by the
B?enianoC 6ivision, %hich %as reinforced %ith an Alpine
battalion alon" %ith troops from the semi-armoured
B4entaursC 6ivision and %as supported by a stron" air
force. 6urin" its Arst day, the attack recorded only small
local successes.
#he +3 Army 4orps, realisin" the dan"er that a
possible loss of ,lissoura %ould entail, hastened to
advance stron" forces in that direction and to repulse the
'talians %ith relentless A"hts, that lasted until /anuary 3(.
#hereafter, the 'talians terminated their e8ort, %hich had
caused them heavy losses in both manpo%er and
supplies.
%%), *o%ever, the most important event of that period
of the !reek-'talian %ar, %as the third phase, the "reat
BSprin"C attack of the 'talian Army. #he 'talian *i"h
4ommand, after the stabilisation and the actual
suspension of the operations due to the e&tremely severe
%inter, %as seekin" to inOict a serious blo% a"ainst the
!reeks, in order to propitiate the 'talian people and its
!erman allies and to atone for its failures up to that point.
<ussolini, a%are of the fact that the !ermans %ere
ready to invade !reece but uninformed as to the actual
time of the attack, %as a"onisin" over the possibility that
his ally %ould forestall him and that 'taly %ould thus And
itself in the e&tremely humiliatin" position to o%e the
!ermans its relief from the dead-end situation to %hich it
had been driven by its deplorable failure in the Albanian
front.
#he e&pected 'talian attack %as launched in the
mornin" of <arch 1. 'n total and only on a fronta"e of
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appro&imately si& kilometres, Ave divisions and one
+lackshirt battalion had been deployed on a Arst echelon
and Ave divisions operatin" as reserves.
<ussolini, full of hope, had positioned himself on the
,omarit hei"ht (!lava) as of that mornin", and from there
he observed the development of the attack to"ether %ith
the 4ommander-in-4hief and the ?eaders of the attackin"
forces. #he attack continued %ith undiminished
momentum until <arch l, yet failed to record any
success, due to the indomitable coura"e and self-sacriAce
of the !reek soldiers, %ho did not surrender not even one
inch of their land to the attackin" 'talians.
+y <arch 1), the 'talian e8ort had be"un to lose
momentum and it %as abandoned completely after the
D)th of the same month. <ussolini disappointed, departed
from #irana on <arch D1, for 'taly, plannin" to repeat the
attack at the end of the month. *o%ever, the sidin" of
=u"oslavia %ith the Allies, %hich had occurred in the
meantime, did not permit for this ne% attempt to be
carried out. #he !erman attack a"ainst !reece that
follo%ed, Anally shattered the hope of the 'talians for any
success.

#*; !;N;:A? <'?'#A:= S'#HA#'$N 'N #*; +;!'NN'N! $@ 111
184