“Ohi” Day: The refusal of Greece in 1940 to accept the italian ultimatum

The Greco-Italian War took place between the Kingdoms of Italy and Greece from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941.

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This local war began the Balkans Campaign of World War II between the Axis powers and the Allies. It turned into the Battle of Greece when British and German ground forces intervened early in 1941.

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The Italian army invaded Greece on 28 October before the Italian ultimatum expired.

The invasion began disastrously, the 140,000 troops of the Italian Army in Albania being poorly led and equipped, and having to cope with the mountainous terrain on the Albanian–Greek border and tenacious resistance by the Greek Army.

By mid-November the Greek army had stopped the Italian invasion just inside Greek territory, and counter-attacked, pushing the Italians back into Albania, culminating with the Capture of Klisura Pass in January 1941.

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The Italian defeat and the Greek counter-offensive of 1940 have been called the first “first Axis setback of the entire war” by Mark Mazower, the Greeks “surprising everyone with the tenacity of their resistance”. After reinforcing the Albanian front to 28 divisions, the Italians conducted a spring offensive in 1941, which also failed and by February there was a stalemate.

In the spring of 1941, the failure of the Italian counter-offensive and the arrival of British ground forces in Greece led the Germans to invade on 6 April.

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During the Battle of Greece, Greek and British forces in northern Greece were overwhelmed and the Germans advanced rapidly into Greece. In Albania, the Greek army made a belated withdrawal to avoid being cut off by the Germans, was followed up slowly by the Italians and surrendered to German troops on 20 April 1941 (then to Italy for propaganda reasons several days later).

Greece was occupied by Bulgarian, German and Italian troops. The Italian army suffered 154,172 casualties from all causes and the Greek army about 90,000 losses.

 

Photos from the Facebook page of “WW2 Greek Army 1940 Reenacting Team”