Today we started our trip back south and after leaving the hotel in Florina and went through the old road of the pass where the action for that battle had taken place. As we drove through slowly we were able to follow the engagement step by step and see where the anti-armour people were captured, the 2/4 Battalion company that also walked into an ambush and were captured and the embussing points near the Brigade HQ.
We proceeded then on past Xinon Nero to te holding position at Sotir and Rodona. This is where the tired 2/4th Battalion were asked to debus and take up another defensive position as part of the 1 Armd Brigade covering force. Their CO reported that they took up their positions and there was not a murmur of descent, just good soldiers doing the job asked of them. After a short engagement the Battalion were withdrawn towards the Servia Pass.
Moving on we passed through Ptolemaida to the area of the only tank versus tank battle of the campaign. This was a win for the 1st Armoured Brigade supported by the Hussars and the ant-armour Battalion. Many of the 2 pounder anti-armour guns were mounted on the back of trucks which enabled them to speed off to the western flank of the valley in support of the Armoured Brigade to meet the German huge left hook that tried to bypass the defensive position. The ground of this action was visible to us as we moved south past Ptolemaida.
Leaving Plotemaida, we headed out to the top of the pass at Veria where the 2/1, 2/2 and 2/3 Battalions were perched covering the approaches to Servia from the East. Morning tea was taken high up in the pass and following we found one of the positions that was a good location for the Reserve Company of 2/1 Battalion. This area was an ideal location from where to explain the movement to the Servia Pass of the 3 Battalions.
Our lunch stop was further on past our hotel at Kozani in a restaurant overlooking the Lake of the Aliakman River. We had an excellent view over the lake to Servia and the pass beyond. We were able to see the place where all the units had deployed following their move from the north in that period following the defence of Vevi. The area is a formable obstacle and it must have taken the last once of strength that the men had to climb to their positions. 2/4th Battalion were on two(2) hills, both over 1200 metres high. Communication was a problem and many a runner struggled over that harsh terrain to deliver a message.
The restaurant was well placed, had very good local food and the staff were very happy to have us there. We did take our time over lunch and the a small visit to the village before we boarded our coach and headed back to our accommodation. Tonight we visit the Church in Ano Komi where we will witness the Easter procession.
Easter is really special here and we were given priority by the Priest and he came down to hold our hands and give us a special welcome in the Church. The service is a lot of chanting by a, sort of choir while things go on and then those who are special file past the Priest to be given a small bunch of flowers.
Following that we congregated outside on the road, shaking hands and getting greetings from many from the village while we wait for the procession to commence.
We then set off following the various icons etc and a large decorated coffin representing Jesus having been taken from the Cross. This is carried in shifts by the men of the village. The procession went around the village for about a Kilometre before going back to the church.