Britain’s First Victory, Germany Plunders Europe & Mussolini’s Folly - WW2 - 063 - November 9, 1940

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Britain’s First Victory, Germany Plunders Europe & Mussolini’s Folly - WW2 - 063 - November 9, 1940 5

The Battle of Britain is finished, but the war is far from over. New German plans are being made for the Balkans and Greece, where the Italian offensive is not as successful as planned.

Written and Hosted by: Indy Neidell
Produced and Directed by: Spartacus Olsson and Astrid Deinhard
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
Creative Producer: Joram Appel
Research by: Indy Neidell
Edited by: Iryna Dulka
Map animations: Eastory

- Money and factory icons by Adrien Coquet, ship icon by Edward Boatman, all: from the Noun Project
- IWM: HU 1915, ZZZ 1811C, IND 3595, E 1227, E 1107, E 1242, E 1239
- San Demetrio crew by Arranj on Wikimedia Commons
- Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH.

💬 Comments on the video

9:05 we live in strange times when turkey is willing to help greece by pressuring bulgaria

Author — pnutz 2 - fmr. capnazrael


*Therapist:* Three-handed Hitler doesn't exist, he can't invade you.
*Three-handed Hitler:* 2:22

Author — MrBomb2


Props to Eastory, because those maps are becoming sexier and sexier by the week.

Author — Yorick


Theres a old ww2 joke about Italy and Germany
German Soldier: Italy had joined the war
Hitler: Ok, send one division to take them out
Soldier: No, they're on our side
Hitler: Oh no, now we'll have to send 30 divisions to help them

Author — Nestor Vargas


Great ending about Neville Chamberlain. Good to know that his life and memory were about much more than Munich. I am very grateful for the humanity you bring to your stories.

Author — Erik Bruun


The most interesting fact about this video is that Hitler had 3 hands.

Author — ??? ¿¿¿


A great power humiliating itself in November attacking a little country with a blue-and-white flag? Is it 1939 again?

Also, 2:31 Hitler’s Third Reach.

Author — Aakkosti


Italy launching frontal attacks on mountain positions without success. Haven't we heard that before?

Author — Grimmtoof


Cheers, the TimeGhost team

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Author — World War Two


I generally don't like Churchill as a person, but that is a pretty touching and thoughtful eulogy for his predecessor. Also, excellent analysis on the failures of italian ambitions. I had no idea the Turks were putting on pressure to help the Greeks though. That's why I love this series.

Author — CommandoDude


Italy better turn this around soon and start picking up some victories, or people are going to be taking the piss for at least 100 years

Author — I Liked Google Plus


"Hitler has three hands"

-Indy Neidell, 2019

Author — Prince Cortez


9:21 ...." and Italy ... wearing itself out on full frontal uphill attacks " .... remind anyone else of the Battles of the Isonzo?

Author — Jim lastname


The Battle of the Pindos Range – the First Victory

The Italian invasion started at 05.30 on October 28 1940, half an hour before the expiration of the ultimatum. The Italian Army invaded from three directions: West (seaside front), Center (direction Ioannina), East (direction: Western Macedonia/Florina/Kastoria).

Between the Central and the Eastern sector, there is the Pindos Mountain Range. With an east-west length of 35km on the map, and actual length over 70km, is the most mountainous terrain in Greece, with few roads driving to the south, summits between 1500 – 2500m high, deep canyons and rivers that become wild torrents in the autumn.

The Greek General Staff makes an almost fatal mistake. They think that the sector is impassable and they assign to it, only 2000 men under Lt. Colonel K. Davakis. Nevertheless, Davakis made whatever he could to improve the fortifications in the region, even though he did not expect much action in his sector.

On the other hand, the Italians have assigned this sector to the Alpini (Division “Julia”, 11.000 men strong), one of the best-trained divisions in the mountainous warfare. The Alpini attack on the morning of October 28. They easily breakthrough the sparse pockets of resistance in the sector and occupy the city of Konitsa. They continue their advance towards south. Their objective is the village of Vovousa and in a few kilometers further south, the city of Metsovo.

If Metsovo is captured, the entire Greek army in Epirus will be encircled. The Greeks will have to surrender.

The Greek Army retreats all over the sector. The few bridges are mined and blown up by the Greek Engineering Corp. In many cases the retreat is disorganized and in panic.

The Alpini advance fast, though not without casualties. The first casualties occur in their attempt to cross the Sarandaporos River. It had rained heavily the last two days and the river had turned into a torrent. Men and equipment are lost.

Nevertheless, they keep moving south. The Greek General Staff understands the danger. They take immediate action to restore discipline among the retreating troops and they order all reinforcements from the East, West and South, to move towards the Pindos Sector.

In the morning of November 3, the Alpini’s vanguard is approaching Vovousa (their last milestone before Metsovo). They have faced small resistance so far.

One of the retreating units of the Greek Army has just reached Vovousa. Its commanding officer is Cpt. Anastasios Pappas. He is left with only 100 men. He is cut off from the rest of the army, without any food and with limited ammunition. At 09.00, Cpt. Pappas sees the vanguard of the Alpini approaching Vovousa. He has no radio to communicate with the HQs. He goes to the Vovousa’s police station, which has a direct telephone line with the HQs in Metsovo.

At the other end of the line is Lt. Colonel George Stanotas. The eyewitnesses describe the following conversation:

Cpt. Pappas: This is Vovousa. My name is Cpt. Anastasios Pappas. I belong to the Pindos Detachment under Lt. Colonel Davakis. I have lost contact with my unit for three days. I can see the Italian vanguard approaching Vovousa.

Lt. Colonel Stanotas is taken by surprise. He did not expect the Italians to have reached so far in the south, nor any greek unit to be in Vovousa.

Lt. Colonel Stanotas : Can you hold the Italians in Vovousa?

Cpt. Pappas: Yes sir! If you send me ammunition and food!

The Alpini’s vantguard is 1700 men strong, driving on the road from Distrato to Vovousa. The road is crossing the Aoos River over a bridge. Cpt. Pappas sets up an ambush. He sends his men on the nearby heights on the other side of the river, so that they block the Italians’ advance towards Vovousa, as well as, their retreat towards Distrato. The Alpini are heading into a trap.

When they approach the bridge, the machine guns start rattling. The Italians are taken by surprise. They try to counter attack, but the Greeks are well covered, while the Alpini are in the open field. They try to retreat towards Distrato but they find themselves under crossfire. There are hundreds of casualties, dead and wounded. Until early in the afternoon, the Alpini are under crossfire, suffering heavy losses. Early in the afternoon, reinforcements arrive from Metsovo. Lt. Colonel Stanotas has recruited everyone who could walk and carry a riffle; some infantrymen but also cooks, postmen, radio operators, technical corp soldiers, auxiliaries, everyone. A whole battalion!

By the end of the day, greek reinforcements arrive at the flanks of the Italian advance all over the sector. Now the Alpini are encircled. They have no reserves(!!!) while the Greeks are being reinforced every hour with new units coming from all directions and eventually outnumber their opponents.

During the following week, the Alpini who are scattered among the mountains in small units, are desperately trying to break through the encirclement heading to the north. They are trapped inside deep canyons and they are machine gunned from the summits, which are held by the Greeks. Thousands will be lost in the labyrinth of the mountains, killed or captured as POWs.

On November 9, 1940, the commander of the Alpini, General Girotti, orders the Division to retreat. According to the Italian sources, between October 28 and November 13, the Alpini had had 1700 dead and 2000 captured as POWs. Almost 7500 manage to retreat beyond the Greco Albanian borders.

The reasons of the defeat:

- Time and Place. The mountainous terrain of Epirus cannot support large-scale operations. However, the selection of the Alpini as an invading force was correct. On the other hand, the autumn rains make the rivers difficult to cross and the bad weather did not allow the Italian air force to support the ground troops or deny the Greek reinforcements from reaching the area. Probably, if the Italians had had the air force or a couple of divisions more, they would have reached Metsovo.

- Underestimation of the enemy. This is a structural defect of the entire campaign. For some strange reason and without any justification, the Italian leadership did not expect the Greek Army to resist. As a proof, the Alpini had taken food for only 5 days (probably because they expected to reach Metsovo in this timeframe). Actually, on the seventh day (Nov. 3) and despite the small resistance, their vanguard had just reached Vovousa (quite a few kilometers from Metsovo).

- Morale. It can be summarized in the following phrase of Visconti Prasca : “We were fighting inspired by our sense of duty. The Greeks were fighting for the defense of their fatherland” (V. Prasca, “Io ho aggredito la Grecia”, “I have invaded Greece”, 1946).

- Reinforcements. The Italian Leadership did not have any reserves to reinforce the fighting Alpini. When they realized it, they tried to move the Division “Bari” to the sector. However, it was too late. On the other hand, the Greeks were constantly sending reinforcements in the area.

- Tactics. The Alpini were ordered to advance fast, without securing their rear. When the Greek reinforcements arrived, they occupied the summits over the routes the Alpini had followed towards south. Having occupied the high ground, and without any Italian air force in sight, it was easy to block them from retreating and eventually defeat an army trapped and scattered among the mountains.

- Civilian population. The civilian population actively participated in the resistance. There were few roads. Most of the transportation was done through trails and on mules. Wherever it was dangerous even for the mules to carry loads with food and ammunition on the summits, the civilian population volunteered. Since the men were all drafted, the women of the villages did the job. Their contribution made the difference between victory and defeat. The women of Pindos have become a legend in the Greek historiography.

Author — George T


The defence of the Greek homeland within Greece is called the epic of '40, and as we will see in the next few weeks, not without merit. This is a true David versus Goliath story, and a satisfying one indeed

Author — Richard Hannay


Is nothing happening in China at the moment?

Author — Valdagast


Interesting to see the Free French operations in Africa, it's something you don't normally hear about, I personally didn't know about them either. More arguments against the dumb "fRaNcE oNlY sUrRenDeRS" meme.

Author — Alejandro Ochagavía


Indy, You forgot VERY important event: Italian bombing of Yugoslav border town Bitolj (Bitola) on November 5th, 1940. Yugoslavia was official neutral, but didn't like possibility that Italy (or Bulgaria) take Thessaloniki, that will sever Yugoslav access to Mediterranean. Three Italian bombers bombed Bitolj and killed several civilians. Italian explanation was that November fog was reason why bombers deviate from course, but actually it was warning for Yugoslavia to keep itself out of the conflict. The event has much more affect on Yugoslav internal politics. Defense Minister Milan Nedić was arguing that Yugoslavia side with Axis powers and take Thessaloniki before Italians (and Bulgarians). Pro-British regent, prince Paul (Pavle) didn't like idea, and he exploited an affair to sack Nedić and sent him into retirement. In the affair, it was discovered that Nedić's cousin and leader of pro-fascist party Zbor Dimitrije Ljotić printed party pamphlets in a military printing house.


In twist of fate, it was prince Paul himself who decided that Yugoslavia should join Axis, rather than British. He was deposed in coup d'etat in March of 1941. But new Yugoslav prime minister Dušan Simović reactivated Nedić as commander of an army to fend of German invasion. Germany invaded both Greece and Yugoslavia on April. Yugoslavia was conquered and broken in few occupation zones. Nedić offered little or no resistance and was among few Yugoslav generals who wasn't taken in Germany as prisoner of war. After Yugoslav communist raise uprising against Axis, Ljotić offered his volunteers to fight communist rebels, and Nedić was installed by German occupational authority to help in quelling the uprising.

Author — BokicaK1


When an invasion plan went so bad, that you ended up going on the defensive.

Author — Bangs Cutter


In a cafe, somewhere in Libreville: "It is I, Leclerc!"

Author — Viktor Woloszczuk