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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

20 April 1941 - Greek General Tsolakoglou surrenders and Allied forces plan to evacuate from mainland Greece

Australian Signal Corps troops at Levadia, 20 April 1941. Photo T Edwards. AWM


On this day at Yannina, the Greek commander of the Greek Army Corps G - General Tsolakoglou - and Third Corps of the Epirus Army offered the unilateral surrender of the Hellenic Army to the Germans without the approval of the Greek government.
He surrendered to the same SS German Unit that the Anzacs had faced earlier at the Battle of Vevi, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler brigade. His surrender was despite urgent orders by Greek Commander-in-chief Alexandros Papagos, that he be relieved and resistance continued to the last. Tsolakoglou signed the surrender on 21st April at Larissa. 
This surrender opens the way for an Axis advance down through western Greece, creating concerns that the remaining Allied forces - British, Anzac, other Commonwealth and Greek - will be cut-off in their attempts to evacuate their forces to Crete and the Middle East. In Athens, the Greek government formally requests Allied forces to withdraw from mainland Greece to Crete.
General Tsolakoglou - along with a number of other Greek Generals - would go on to take part in the collaborationist government installed by the German occupiers. He was tried after the war by a Special Collaborators Court and sentenced to death, although this was commuted to life imprisonment, where he died in 1948.
As the Anzac withdrawal continues, Australian Signal Corps troops rested at Levadia on their way south towards the embarkation beaches of mainland Greece. At Levadia they destroyed all non-essential equipment to ensure it would not end up in German hands. These troops then continued their march to Kalamata.


Australian Unit Locations - 20th April
16th Brigade HQ - Brallos
17th Brigade HQ - Kalivia Ano
19th Brigade HQ - Lamia-Brallos Road
2/1st Battalion - Lamia
2/2nd Battalion - Thermopylae
2/3rd Battalion -Amficklia
2/4th Battalion - Brallos
2/5th Battalion - Lamia

2/6th Battalion - Thermopylae
2/7th Battalion - Brallos
2/8th Battalion - Brallos
2/11th Battalion - Domokos
2/1st Machine Gun Battalion - Annakleva
Thanks to Paul Sougleris of Greek Anzacs for his information on unit locations drawn from the official unit dairies.

Jim Claven
Secretary
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council  

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