The blasting of the Gorgopotamos bridge.

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The blasting of the Gorgopotamos bridge.

Post by spiro » 13 Oct 2006 23:12

The blasting of the Gorgopotamos bridge was, along with the Norwegian heavy water sabotage in Rjukan, one of the two biggest guerilla acts in occupied Europe. The blowing up of the bridge disrupted the German transportation of ammunition via Greece to Rommel, as it took place the time that the German forces in North Africa, in their retreat after the defeat of El-Alamein, were in absolute necessity of provisions.

The night of September 1942, a small group of British officers parachuted into Greece near Mt. Giona. This group, led by Brigadier Eddie Myers, had to blow up one of the three bridges (Gorgopotamos, Papadia, Asopos) of the railway Germany-Athens, and make the guerilla's groups cooperate. After much deliberation, the Gorgopotamos bridge was chosen due to the difficulty of making repairs to the structure. But, for the mission to succeed, it was important to meet the guerillas. Dimos Karalivanos, an ELAS soldier, was the first guerilla the British found.

At the end of October a second group of British officials was parachuted into the Greek mountains. Their leaders were Themis Marinos and Colonel Chris Woodhouse. Their mission was to locate the guerillas of EDES and their leader Napoleon Zervas, who were friendlier to the British Headquarters of Middle-East than the ELAS, and co-operate with them. The resulting mission was a challenge for the two guerilla's groups, EDES and ELAS. Finally, they agreed to collaborate. British did not prefer the participation of ELAS, because it was a pro-communist group, but the forces of ELAS were larger and more organised. It was believed that without their participation, the mission was likely to be unsuccessful. So, in a rare and unique instance, ELAS and EDES-EOEA joined forces.

At November 14, 12 British saboteurs, the forces of ELAS (150 men) and those of EDES (60-65 men) met in the village Viniani of Evrytania and the operation started. Ten days later, the forces were at Gorgopotamos. The night of November 25, at 23:00h, the guerillas started the attack against the Italian guards to the bridge. The Italians were startled, and after a little resistance , they were defeated. After the defeat of the Italians, the saboteurs set the explosives. ELAS forces also placed ambushes on the routes towards the bridge, to prevent the approach of other Italian troops. The explosion came at 03:00h. Afterwards, the guerilla's forces returned to Viniani, to celebrate the success of the mission.


A detailed story with pics: ... Epi-j.html

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 14 Oct 2006 00:25

Montgomery - perhaps ironically - thought that the operation against the Gorgopotamos bridge was much too slow off the mark. Certainly the bridge was blown up too late to contribute directly against the Axis supply lines across the Mediterranean before the Alamein battles.

According to M. R. D. Foot in his book on the SOE, the lateness of the Gorgopotamos operation earned the SOE Montgomery's eternal distrust - no doubt an overly harsh judgement, though if it was Foot or Montgomery being too harsh I dare not say.
...General Montgomery had never set foot in Greece; he read it all from the maps and what he entirely failed to realize was that Greece was a country where you couldn't pursue fighting on wheels. Because there was absolutely no possibility of getting from one end of Greece to the other, except by walking. This great field marshal had never thought of that. He became very critical of my slowness and the senior officers' slowness in getting the Greek guerrillas-because they were on the opposite side of the country-into action...from this website
Interestingly enough, the website above suggests that the orginal pretext for the Gorgopotamos operation was purely defensive - i.e. to prevent the PAA from reaching Cairo and the Nile Delta.

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Post by hellikon » 14 Oct 2006 12:07

I don't know if it's relevant but there is an interesting website about the Nazi Occupation of Greece (1941-1944) that may help (some spam here) ;-).

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