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 Bn company that also walked into an ambush and were captured and the embussing points near the Brigade HQ.
We proceeded then to Xino Nero where there is a memorial to the Australian soldiers of the 6th Division. This memorial was fully overgrown with tall pines and weeds and tall shrubs when we first visited it 4 years ago. However, due to our continuing visits and us arranging to have the local television station and journalists do interviews there, the community are keeping it weed free and clean and have removed all the graffiti and repainted the surrounds. Our group did a little extra weeding before we conducted a small service.
The Service started with a prayer read by Jennifer Backhouse, followed by the placing of poppies and an Australian Flag, Matt Walsh led us in the Ode, a minutes silence then Melva Hawker sang Amazing Grace and we concluded the Service with all singing the National Anthem. The Service was a very fitting and moving ceremony and all felt privileged to be able to conduct such a Service so far from home.
Following the Service we filled our glasses, a little anyway, of the grappa supplied by the vineyard at Domokos and drank a toast to those men of the 6th Division. We then proceeded into the small village of Amyntaio for a stop at a very nice hotel for coffee.
Moving on after morning tea we proceeded towards Kozani and 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 Bn. 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.
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 Bn 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 Taverna for dinner and tomorrow we head to Platamon.