Crete Pilgrimage 2016 - Day 23

Greece - the Forgotten Anzacs at Vevi and Olympus Pass


We left Thessaloniki and headed west to the village of Vevi, quite close to the northern border of Greece. Here in early 1941 a handful of poorly prepared Australian and New Zealand troops faced the best of the German military in the first Anzac action of the war. The Australians at Vevi were lucky to escape by heading south, on foot. The Anzacs were chased all the way south through Greece until most were evacuated at Athens and surrounding ports. Most were taken to Crete, where they again faced the best of German forces.

From Vevi we travelled south passing Ptolemaida and stopping for lunch at the hilltop village of Neraida. Here a street full of cafes looks down on a long narrow lake held behind a dam and power station. After lunch lookin out on this scene, we crossed over the curved bridge that arcs over the lake and then swung east towards Mt Olympus. On the northern flanks of Olympus Pass the New Zealand 22 Battalion successfully held up the German armoured columns, allowing the Anzac forces north and west of Olympus to retreat to safety. We then went east out to the coast to our hotel for the night, the Dion Palace.

Petrol is €1.379 per litre
Could be a rural area anywhere in the world
I wonder if the Greek trains run to time? I wonder if they run at all?
Well the track is shiny so something runs on them!
Coal-fired power station
Just above the town of Vevi looking west
Small shrine at the road junction
Even the road signs are slow to change - Yugoslavia disinegrated years ago.
Open cast coal mine for the power stations
Lots of poppies in the fields
The turnoff to Neraida and lunch.
The local church
View of the lake looking towards the dam and power station
The Balconi Cafe, one of many looking out over the lake
Lunch with a view
Where we dined
Or just a flop!
Back on the coach and across the bridge!

Olympus Pass

The defence of Olympus Pass was the New Zealand 5th Division's first contact with German forces in 1941. They were well dug into the Pass and held a strong position, rebuffing the German forces in their first contact. But the Germans had managed to outflank the Allies through Vevi and the Pass was soon abandoned for another strong position further south.

Our coach climbed up Olympus Pass from the south, the road today is narrow and winding but is in much better state than the cart track in 1941. We stopped at the village just beyond the Pass and here met a local who remembered the New Zealanders being here in 1941.

Heading towards Mt Olympus
The road climbs up through the saddle
Ktima Bellou Farm Hotel
The village of Agios Dimitrios
Entering the village of Foteina on the northern flank of Mt Olympus
We stopped in the middle of Foteina to discuss events
where we were joined by a local man who remembered the New Zealand soldiers from 1941
Then it was on to our hotel, the Dion Palace.

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Last updated: 31/05/2017