The Invasion and Battle of Greece
The German Thrust across Southern Yugoslavia
The XL Panzer Corps, which was to attack across southern Yugoslavia, jumpedoff at 05:30 on 6 April, thrusting across the Bulgarian frontier at twopoints. It met strong opposition from an enemy who seemed determined tostop the invaders. The 9th Panzer Division advancing toward Kumanovo wasthus delayed along the mountain roads, and the 73rd Infantry Division drivetoward Stip was held up near Carevo Selo. However, after several hours offighting, the enemy nests of resistance were reduced, and the first 600Yugoslav prisoners were brought in from the front. By the evening of thefirst day of the offensive, the spearheads of the two divisions had reachedthe area east of Kumallovo and Kocane. During the night strong elements ofthe 9th Panzer Division closed up and the next day the remaining heavyvehicles crossed the mountain passes near the border. By the afternoon of 7April the advance guard of the armored division entered Skoplje, almostsixty miles west of the border.
That same day the flying column attached to the 73rd Division reachedVeles, while the main body of the division followed at some distance. Thereinforced 1st SS Motorized Infantry Regiment, which had been held back,moved up along the 9th Panzer Division route to participate in the assaulton the Vardar defense positions.
The continuation of the operation looked hazardous because a force of fewerthan three divisions was to drive deep into enemy territory with bothflanks open. The First Panzer Group offensive in the north was not to startuntil 8 April and no news on the progress of the 2nd Panzer Division attackfarther to the south was available. Moreover, the possibility of Yugoslavcounterattacks against the rear of the panzer corps was not to be excluded.None of these threats materialized.
The Vardar was crossed with surprising ease and the corps thus gainedfreedom of maneuver. By the evening of 8 April the XL Panzer Corps beganits pivoting movement and the advance elements of the SS regiment capturedPrilep. The important rail line between Belgrade and Salonika was severedand one of the strategic objectives of the campaign to isolate Yugoslaviafrom its allies-was achieved. In addition, the Germans were now inpossession of terrain that was favorable for the continuation of theoffensive. On the evening of 9 April General Stumme deployed his forcesnorth of Monastir, ready to carry the attack across the Greek border towardFlorina. While weak security detachments covered the rear of his corpsagainst a surprise attack from central Yugoslavia, elements of the 9thPanzer Division drove westward to link up with the Italians at the Albanianborder.
The 2nd Panzer Division Drive to Salonika
Entering Yugoslavia from the east on the morning of 6 April, the 2nd PanzerDivision (XVIII Mountain troops) advanced westward through the StrimollValley. It encountered little enemy resistance but was delayed bydemolitions, minefields, and muddy roads. Nevertheless, the division divasable to reach the objective of the day, the town of Strumica. On 7 April aYugoslav counterattack against the northern flank of the division wasrepelled after brief fighting. The next day the division forced its wayacross the mountains and overran the Greek 19th Motorized Infantry DivisionUnits stationed south of Lake Doiran. Despite many delays along the narrowmountain roads an armored advance guard dispatched in the direction ofSalonika succeeded in entering the city by the morning of 9 April. Theseizure of this important objective took place without any fighting.
The Metaxas Line
The frontal attack on the Metaxas Line, undertaken by one German infantryand two reinforced mountain divisions of the XVIII Mountain Corps, met withextremely tough resistance from the Greek defenders. After a three-daystruggle, during which the Germans massed artillery and dive-bombers, theMetaxas Line was finally penetrated. The main credit for this achievementmust be given to the 6th Mountain Division, which crossed a 7,000-footsnow-covered mountain range and broke through at a point that had beenconsidered inaccessible by the Greeks. The division reached the rail lineto Salonika on the evening of 7 April and entered Kherson two days later.
The other XVIII Mountain Corps units advanced step by step under greathardship. Each individual group of fortifications had to be reduced by acombination of frontal and enveloping attacks with strong tactical airsupport. The 5th Mountain Division together with the reinforced 125thInfantry Regiment penetrated the Strimon defenses on 7 April and, attackingalong both banks of the river, cleaned out one bunker after another. Afterrepelling several counterattacks the division reached Neon Petritsi, thusgaining access to the Rupul Gorge from the south. The 125th InfantryRegiment, which was attacking the gorge from the north, suffered such heavycasualties that it had to be withdrawn from further action after it hadreached its objective. The 72nd Infantry Division, which advanced fromNevrokop across the mountains, was handicapped by a shortage of packanimals, medium artillery, and mountain equipment. Nevertheless, even thisdivision got through the Metaxas Line by the evening of 9 April, when itreached the area northeast of Seres. Some of the fortresses of the lineheld out for days after the German attack divisions had bypassed them andcould not be reduced until heavy guns were brought up.
The Seizure of Western Thrace
The XXX Infantry Corps on the left wing progressed in a satisfactory mannerand reached its designated objective. The two infantry divisions alsoencountered strong resistance during the first days, although both theenemy forces and fortifications were weaker here than west of the NestosRiver. On the other hand, the road conditions were worse than anywhereelse, often causing delay in the movement of artillery and supplies. By theevening of 8 April the 164th Infantry Division captured Xanthi, while the 50th Infantry Division advanced far beyond Komotini toward the Nestos,which both divisions reached on the next day.
Capitulation of the Greek Second Army
The seizure of Salonika by the 2nd Panzer Division and the advance of theXVIII Mountain Corps across the Metaxas Line led to the collapse of Greekresistance east of the Vardar River. On 9 April the Greek Second Armycapitulated unconditionally. The number of prisoners of war was notestablished because the Germans released all Greek soldiers after disarmingthem.
The Break-Through to Kozani
By the morning of 10 April, the XL Panzer Corps had finished itspreparations for the continuation of the offensive. A reconnaissancebattalion of the SS regiment that had been sent ahead did not encounter anystrong opposition until it reached the area east of Florina. Against allexpectations, the enemy had left open the Monastir Gap. The Germans did nothesitate to exploit their advantage and continued the advance in thedirection of Kozani.
The first contact with British troops was made north of Vevi at 11:00 on 10April. An intercepted radio message indicated that the British command wassurprised by the swiftness of the SS regiment’s thrust and gave orders forimmediate withdrawal from the Vermion Position. The SS troops seized Vevion 11 April but were stopped a short distance south of that town, wherestrong Australian forces held the dominating heights overlooking the passroad. During the next day the SS regiment reconnoitered the enemy positionsand at dusk launched a frontal attack against the pass. After heavyfighting, the Germans overcame the enemy resistance and broke through thedefile.
On 13 April the XL Panzer Corps commander ordered mobile elements of the9th Panzer Division to pursue the withdrawing British forces to Kozani andcut off their communications with Verroia, situated in the southeasternfoothills of the Vermion Range. The SS regiment was given the mission ofcutting off the Greek First Army’s route of withdrawal from Albania bydriving westward and taking possession of the Kastoria area.
During the early afternoon of 13 April the 33rd Panzer Regiment of the 9thPanzer Division entered Ptolemais, a town midway between Vevi and Kozani.The arrival of the German forces was greeted by heavy shelling from thehills south and southeast of the town. German reconnaissance patrolsreported that the road bridge situated about 500 yards south of Ptolemaishad been blown up by the British and that a ditch filled with water cutacross the low ground on both sides of the road. The ditch was six feetwide and three feet deep and had soft shoulders. It constituted a perfectantitank obstacle. The patrols came under heavy fire from artillery,antitank, and machine guns emplaced on the high ground overlooking the road.
The regimental commander sent out two patrols to find a road that bypassedthe ditch. Two side roads were discovered, one of which was impassable forarmored vehicles since a bridge leading across the river had beendemolished and steep dams dominated both banks. The other road bypassingthe ditch to the west led through a swamp interspersed with several ditchesbut seemed passable even though there was no trace of recent vehiculartraffic. Most of this road-stretch across the swamp was in plain view ofthe British.
The regimental commander chose the latter route for his axis of advancebecause it offered a possibility to envelop the enemy’s dominatingpositions and strike his flank. The approach across the swamp was verydifficult and had to be made at a walking pace under intermittent fire fromBritish tanks and antitank guns. As soon as the first German tanks camewithin striking distance, they opened fire and drove off the enemyvehicles, knocking out two of them.
After having crossed the swamp the German armor deployed. Seven tanks werestuck and followed later. Speed was of the essence if the plan of attackwas to succeed and the enemy was to be prevented from withdrawing. Thispart of the plan was complicated by the difficult terrain which roseabruptly and was broken in places. At the same time, the British stepped uptheir artillery and antitank fire. As dusk was setting in, the German tanksassembled and suddenly emerged on the British flank with all guns ablaze.The British tanks turned about and a violent engagement developed, theresult of which could not be accurately gauged because of growing darkness.
Two British self-propelled antitank guns were engaged at less than 200yards’ distance, while trying to escape. They were knocked out and a fewsupply trucks were captured. Some of the British tanks set up smoke screensto further reduce visibility and thus cover their withdrawal. As darknesscovered the battlefield the Germans observed explosions in the distance andnoticed that the enemy artillery fire was decreasing.
The plan to push on to Kozani had to be abandoned because the German tankshad expended almost all their ammunition. Some tanks had no gasoline left,while the rest had only enough for about ten miles. The British had losttheir hill positions, abandoning thirty-two tanks and antitank guns as wellas a number of trucks. The Germans lost 2 Mark IV, 1 Mark II, and 1 Mark Itanks in the engagement. This was the first and last tank battle that tookplace during the Greek campaign.
By the morning of 14 April, the spearheads of the 9th Panzer Divisionreached Kozani. That same evening the division established a bridgeheadacross the Aliakmon River, but an attempt to advance beyond this point wasstopped by intense enemy fire. For the next three days the 9th PanzerDivision advance was stalled in front of the strongly fortified mountainpositions held by the British.
The Withdrawal of the Greek First Army
The position of the Greek First Army, still fighting in Albania, wasseriously jeopardized by the rapid advance of the XL Panzer Corps viaFlorina and by the British withdrawal to positions behind the Aliakmon. TheGreek command, therefore, had to come to grips with the necessity ofwithdrawing southward from Albania. However, it was not until 13 April thatthe first Greek elements began to withdraw toward the Pindus Mountains. Onthe next day, an advance detachment of the 73rd Infantry Division encounteredGreek troops withdrawing from Albania across the Pindus Mountains into thearea west of Kastoria. Heavy fighting took place on that and the followingday, especially at Kastoria Pass, where the Germans blocked the Greekwithdrawal, which by then extended to the entire Albanian front, with theItalians in hesitant pursuit.
On 19 April the 1st SS Regiment which had meanwhile reached Grevena wasordered to advance southeastward in the direction of Yannina to cut off theGreeks’ route of withdrawal to the south and complete their encirclement.This mission was accomplished by 20 April, following a pitched battle inthe 5,000 foot high Metsovon Pass in the Pindus Mountains. Realizing thehopelessness of the situation, the Greek commander offered to surrender hisarmy, which then consisted of fourteen divisions. After brief negotiations,which, on strict orders from Hitler, were kept secret from the Italians,the surrender was accepted with honorable terms for the defeated. Inrecognition of the valor with which the Greek troops had fought, theirofficers were permitted to retain their side arms. The soldiers were nottreated as prisoners of war and were allowed to go home after thedemobilization of their units.
For reasons of prestige Mussolini insisted that the Greeks also surrenderto the Italians. Hostilities between the Greeks and Italians continued fortwo more days, and on 23 April the Greek commander signed a new surrenderagreement which included the Italians.
Securing the German Rear Areas
Simultaneous with the main thrust into central Greece the Twelfth Army hadto complete the pacification of eastern Macedonia, western Thrace, and theAegean Islands. Following its capitulation the Greek Second Army wasdemobilizing in orderly fashion, leaving only isolated hostile forcesactive in these areas. The XXX Corps occupied the northeastern part ofGreece, and on 19 April the 50th Infantry Division moved to Salonika, whereit was to stay throughout the remainder of the campaign. The 164th InfantryDivision was given the task of securing the Aegean coast and occupying theislands. On 16 and 19 April elements of the division captured Thasos andSamothraki, respectively. Limnos was seized on 25 April, and Mitilini andKhios were taken on 4 May. Even though little enemy resistance was met,this operation was not without difficulties for the ground troops. Theinfantry units were transported in a fleet of small boats requisitioned invarious harbors along the Greek coast. Some of the boats had to traveldistances of more than sixty miles. Airborne units, together with elementsof the 6th Mountain Division, were employed in the seizure of some of thelarger Cyclades and Sporadhes Islands.
On 13 April General Wilson decided to withdraw all British forces to theThermopylae line. Meanwhile, General Boehme, the XVIII Mountain Corpscommander had to wait until the rear elements of his divisions that werelagging behind in the Rhodope Mountains were able to close up. The advancein the direction of the Vardar was resumed as soon as the bulk of the corpshad been assembled. After the Vardar crossing had been accomplished on 11April, the 6th Mountain Division drove in the direction of Edhessa and thenturned southward toward Verroia. After capturing that town the divisionestablished a bridgehead across the Aliakmon and pushed on to the highground at the foothills of Mount Olympus. The 2nd Panzer Division crossedthe Aliakmon near the river bend and entered Katerini on 14 April, threehours after the 9th Panzer Division captured Kozani on the west side of theVermion Mountains. The 5th Mountain and 72nd Infantry Divisions were closingup along the 2nd Panzer Division’s route of advance.
A ruined castle dominated the ridge across which the coastal pass led toPlatamon. During the night of 15 April, a German motorcycle battalionsupported by a tank battalion attacked the ridge but were repelled by thedefenders. On the next morning a special sabotage detachment, which was tooutflank the Platamon position by sea in one motor and three assault boatsand sail up the Pinios River to capture the bridge on the road to Larisa,had to turn back because of heavy swells.
On the morning of 16 April the 2nd Panzer Division repeated its assault onthe Platamon ridge. This time the Germans employed 100 tanks, twobattalions of infantry, twelve 105-mm. and four 150-mm. guns as well asother artillery and technical units. They were opposed by the New Zealand21st Battalion, four 25-pounders, and one platoon of engineers. The NewZealand commander had been told that the terrain ahead of his positions wasentirely unsuitable for tank movement, and that he need expect onlyinfantry attacks.
The German plan of attack called for simultaneous frontal and flankassaults. After a thorough artillery preparation that started at 09:00, theflank attack made good progress. The western end of the ridge was seized inhand-to-hand fighting, whereupon the German tanks began to roll up theentire position. The New Zealand battalion withdrew, crossed the PiniosRiver, and by dusk reached the western exit of the Pinios Gorge, sufferingonly light casualties.
The German tanks tried to launch a pursuit but were unable to get down thesouth slope of the ridge. The railway tunnel near the edge of the sea hadbeen blown up and was impassable. One tank company attempted to edge itsway along the coast but could not get through. In the end the tanks weretowed over the ridge, a very time-consuming process by which only aboutthirty tanks were made available on the next morning.
The pursuit through the Pinios forge made little headway. The walls of thegorge rose steeply on both sides of the river. The railway tracks, alongwhich the lead tanks made slow progress, clung to the narrow north bank ofthe river, while the road twisted just above the riverbed on the southernside of the gorge. The 6th Mountain Division marched across the mountainsand emerged at the exit of the Pinios Gorge, only to find the bridges andferry demolished and the railway track blocked. The tired mountain troopswere met by heavy machine gun fire from the south bank of the river. Bynightfall the first German tanks crossed the river, but they bogged down ina swamp while trying to bypass a road demolition.
On the morning of 18 April armored infantry crossed the river on floats,while 6th Mountain Division troops worked their way around the New Zealandbattalion, which was annihilated. The struggle for the Pinios Gorge was over.
During the fighting in the Mount Olympus area the Germans were unable tomove up supplies because of bad roads and traffic congestion. Thesedifficulties were alleviated by airdrops and by shipping ammunition,rations, and gasoline by lighter along; the Aegean coast.
On 19 April the first XVIII Mountain Corps troops entered Larisa and tookpossession of the airfield, where the British had left their supply dumpsintact. The seizure of ten truckloads of rations and fuel enabled thespearhead units to continue their drive without letup. The port of Volos,at which the British had re-embarked numerous units during the last fewdays, fell on 21 April; there, the Germans captured large quantities ofdiesel and crude oil.
Continuation of the XL Panzer Corps Drive
When it became apparent that the British had decided to offer strongerresistance along the Aliakmon than anywhere else up to that time, GeneralStumme, the XL Panzer Corps commander, decided to envelop the Aliakmonposition from the west while staging holding attacks along the riverfront.The area around Grevena farther upstream presented a possibility for anenveloping movement. After having forced a crossing at this point, theattacker would enter terrain unfavorable to the movement of heavy vehiclesbecause of the absence of roads and the multitude of ravines. The movementwas nevertheless decided upon since it seemed the only means of breakingthe enemy resistance in this area without too much delay.
On 15 April the 5th Panzer Division, recently assigned to the corps,launched the enveloping movement north of the Aliakmon with the intentionof driving southward via Kalabaka toward Lamia. As expected, the divisionencountered very unfavorable terrain conditions after it had crossed theAliakmon near Grevena in the face of light resistance. Extraordinaryefforts were needed to keep the heavy vehicles moving over cart roads whichhad been washed out by snow and rain. Not until 19 April did the divisionemerge from the mountains and was finally able to move at its usual speed.Lamia was seized on the following day against minor enemy resistance. Itnow became apparent that too much time had been lost in crossing themountains since the British rear guards had meanwhile evacuated theAliakmon and Mount Olympus lines and established themselves along the nextdelaying position at the Thermopylae Pass.
Before evacuating the Aliakmon position the British forces had repelled all9th Panzer Division attacks until 17 April, when the first troops of theXVIII Mountain Corps, driving through the Pinios Gorge, entered the Plainof Thessaly, thus threatening to cut the British route of withdrawalthrough Larisa. During the night of 17-18 April, the British succeeded inbreaking contact with the German outposts and evacuating their strongpositions that had remained intact. Large-scale demolitions slowed down theGerman pursuit on the ground, but the Luftwaffe was very active, makingnumerous dive-bomber attacks on the retreating British columns.
As soon as General Stumme realized that the enemy rear guard had withdrawnbeyond the immediate reach of his spearheads, he issued orders givingLuftwaffe ground personnel traffic priority along the Kozani-Larisa road so that the tactical air support units could operate -from fields that werecloser to the fast-moving mobile forces.
On 19 April the 9th Panzer Division reached the Elasson area, where it wasordered to stop and assemble. Since it was not needed for the continuationof the campaign in southern Greece, the division was designated corpsreserve and eventually redeployed to Germany for rehabilitation.
Regrouping of German Forces
As early as 16 April the German command had realized that the British wereevacuating their troops aboard ships at Volos and Piraeus. The wholecampaign had taken on the characteristics of a pursuit. For the Germans, itwas now primarily a question of maintaining contact with the retreatingBritish forces and counteracting their evacuation plans. The infantrydivisions were withdrawn from action because they lacked mobility. The 2ndand 5th Panzer Divisions, the 1st SS Motorized Infantry Regiment, and thetwo mountain divisions launched the pursuit of the enemy forces. For daysat a time, German flying columns were out of touch with their respectivedivision headquarters. The distance between Larisa and Lamia, for instance,which is sixty-five miles across the partly mountainous terrain, was covered inless than three days despite roadblocks, demolitions, and a number of minorengagements with British rear guards.
The supply situation was further relieved by the capture of rations andfuel stocks in the Lamia area. Even though regular supply channels failedto function because of traffic congestion and Volos, the only port incentral Greece that had a satisfactory capacity, could not be cleared ofmines before 27 April, the spearhead divisions were able to leave the Lamiaarea with an adequate supply of rations and fuel. The ammunitionexpenditure remained very small.
The Last British Stand at Thermopylae
To permit the evacuation of the main body of British forces, General Wilsonordered the rear guard to make a last stand at Thermopylae Pass, thegateway to Athens. On the evening of 21 April, German air reconnaissanceinformation indicated that the British defense line consisted of lightfield fortifications, the construction of which did not seem to haveprogressed beyond the initial stage. Other air reconnaissance reportsshowed that British troops were being evacuated from Salamis; 20 large and15 small ships were loading troops in the port of Piraeus, 4 large and 31small ones at Khalkis. The heavy antiaircraft fire was encountered over theports of re-embarkation.
By 22 April a flying column of the 5th Panzer Division was attacking theThermopylae positions that were defended by British infantry supported bywell-camouflaged artillery and single tanks. The initial German probingattacks were without success. On the next day, a wide enveloping movementwas undertaken by 6th Mountain Division troops crossing the difficultterrain west of the British positions. This operation took placesimultaneous with another outflanking maneuver performed by atank-supported motorcycle battalion advancing via Molos. After offeringstrong resistance along the Molos road, the British troops abandoned theThermopylae Pass during the night of 24-25 April.
The panzer units launching a pursuit along the road leading across the passmade slow progress because of the steep gradient and a large number ofdifficult hairpin bends. Occasional landslides hampered the repair ofBritish demolitions. The railway tracks at the top of the pass were sothoroughly destroyed that repairs were estimated to take three months.
The atrocious road conditions in Greece had taken a heavy toll of Germantruck tires. Since no tire reserves were on hand, the vehicle attritionrate of the motorized columns rose to 35 percent after only two weeks ofhostilities. The Twelfth Army supply officer, therefore, requested theimmediate dispatch of 1,500 tires from higher headquarters.
The Seizure of the Isthmus of Corinth
An airborne operation against the Isthmus of Corinth was undertaken by twobattalions of the German 2nd Parachute Regiment, reinforced by one parachuteengineer platoon and one parachute medical company. On 25 April, more than400 three-engine transport, two planes, as well as numerous troop andcargo-carrying gliders were transferred from the Plovdiv area in Bulgariato the former British airfield at Larisa. H-hour for the airdrop over theobjective was 07:00 on 26 April.
After leaving Larisa according to plan, the heavily loaded, slow planestook two hours for the approach flight, covering the distance at an averagespeed of approximately 110 miles per hour. The planes flew over the PindusMountains and then dropped to about 150 feet altitude above the Gulf ofCorinth, heading toward their objective in column formation. They tookadvantage of the haze that covered the gulf and succeeded in reaching theisthmus without being observed. The pilots pulled up to 400 feet altitude,reduced speed, and dropped their loads above the designated objectives.
The first to land were the gliders, which touched the ground on both sides ofthe isthmus. The parachute troops jumped at the same time and seized thebridge, capturing a large number of British troops.
The primary mission of seizing the bridge intact with a minimum of delayseemed to have been achieved, when an accidental hit by a Britishantiaircraft shell exploded the demolition charge after German engineershad succeeded in cutting the detonating cord. The bridge blew up andnumerous German soldiers were buried under the debris. On the same dayengineer troops constructed a temporary span next to the one that had beendestroyed so that the traffic between the mainland and the Peloponnesus wasinterrupted for only a short time.
During the airborne operation one transport plane was forced down bysqualls and crashed in the Pindus Mountains, and two gliders were wreckedwhile landing. Several planes suffered minor damages from antiaircraft andmachine gun fire.
Had this airborne operation been executed a few days earlier in the form ofa vertical envelopment, its success would have been far greater since largenumbers of British troops would have been trapped and thus prevented fromreaching the ports of embarkation at the southern tip of the Peloponnesus.By the time the isthmus was seized, most of the British had escaped fromthe Greek mainland.
The German Drive on Athens and Across the Peloponnesus
After abandoning the Thermopylae area the British rear guards withdrew toan improvised switch position south of Thebes, where they erected the lastobstacle in front of Athens. The motorcycle battalion of the 2nd PanzerDivision, which had crossed to the island of Euboea to seize the port ofKhalkis and had subsequently returned to the mainland, was given themission of outflanking the British rear guard. The motorcycle troopsencountered only slight resistance, and on the morning of 27 April, thefirst Germans entered the Greek capital. They captured intact largequantities of POL, several thousand tons of ammunition, ten trucks loadedwith sugar and ten truckloads of other rations in addition to various otherequipment, weapons, and medical supplies.
The airborne seizure of the Isthmus of Corinth had been coordinated with adrive across western Greece launched on 25 April. The 1st SS MotorizedInfantry Regiment, assembled at Yannina, thrust along the western foothillsof the Pindus Mountains via Arta to Mesolongion and crossed over to thePeloponnesus at Patras in an effort to gain access to the isthmus from thewest. Since most motorized vehicles had to be left on the mainland, theadvance guard consisting of infantry and support units entrained at Patrasand proceeded by railway to Corinth. Upon their arrival at 1730 on 27 Aprilthe SS forces learned that Army units advancing from Athens had alreadyrelieved the paratroops.
The SS units thereupon returned to Patras with orders to envelop theretreating British forces in the Peloponnesus from the west. The movementtook place by rail and the first train arrived late on 28 April in Pirgos,where the German troops were welcomed by the mayor.
The erection of a temporary span across the Corinth Canal permitted 5thPanzer Division units to pursue the enemy forces across the Peloponnesus.Diving via Argos to Kalamai they reached the south coast on 29 April, wherethey were joined by SS troops arriving from Pirgos by rail. The fighting onthe Peloponnesus consisted merely of small-scale engagements with isolatedgroups of British troops who had been unable to make the ship in time. In theirhasty evacuation that took place mostly at night, the British used numeroussmall ports. On the Peloponnesus, some 8,000 British and Yugoslav prisonerswere captured and many Italians were liberated from Greek camps. By April30 the last British troops had either escaped or been taken prisoner andhostilities ceased.