After The Battle Issue No. 194
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After The Battle Issue No. 194
Breakthrough at the Pinios Gorge
Dimensions:Soft cover, 8.5" x 11"
Photos:wartime b+w photos and present day color comparisons
Publisher:After The Battle, UK
Item No. ATB-194
- BREAKTHROUGH AT THE PINIOS GORGE - On April 6, 1941, the Germans invaded Greece, the beginning of a Blitzkrieg operation which would end with the hasty and ignominious evacuation of Allied forces from mainland Greece little more than three weeks later. One of the most-decisive actions of this campaign occurred near the town of Platamon, on the eastern shore of Central Macedonia, when a combat group of the German 2. Panzer-Division managed to push through a narrow defile along the coast and then along the eight-kilometre-long narrow gorge of the Pinios river, thus reaching the open tank country of the Thessaly plain. The Allied commanders had considered the Platamon gap unsuitable for tank warfare and were thus completely unsettled by the German penetration of it. For the small New Zealand force defending the Platamon ridge and later, with Australian units, the Pinios gorge was a frustrating defeat. Jeffrey Plowman tells us the story.
- THE SINKING OF THE KYBFELS AND MARBURG - Jeffrey Plowman also tells us how German plans at the end of Operation ‘Marita’ called for the withdrawal of the 2. Panzer-Division to Germany where it was to re-equip in preparation for its deployment in Operation ‘Barbarossa’, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. As part of the division’s return to Germany, its tracked and semi-tracked vehicles and associated equipment were to be shipped over from Patras in the Peloponnese to Taranto in Italy in two separate convoys, one on May 18 and another on May 21. During the second convoy, both cargo ships involved, the Kybfels and Marburg, hit mines that had been laid by the British minelayer HMS Abdiel the night before and sank with heavy losses of personnel and equipment, a total of 243 sailors and soldiers being killed and 355 guns and vehicles being lost. This makes the event one of the worst single-day losses suffered by a German panzer division during the war.
- STRIVEN AND ITS SECRET WEAPONS - Dr Iain Murray, Trustee of the Barnes Wallis Foundation, tells us how during the Second World War, Loch Striven in western Scotland was used for testing several of Britain’s secret weapons, the most notable of them being the X-craft midget submarines and the Highball ‘bouncing bomb’, the latter being the smaller version of the Upkeep mine used against the Ruhr dams in the famous Dambuster raid of May 1943. Whereas several specimens of the Upkeep have been recovered since the war, notably at its main test site at Reculver Beach in Kent in 1975, 1977 and 1997 (see After the Battle Nos. 10, 25 and 97), over the years only one complete Highball was recovered, also from Reculver, by 101 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in June 1997. However, although the latter was earmarked to go to a museum, this did not happen and therefore there was no complete Highball on permanent display anywhere. Also, no Highball had ever been raised from Loch Striven, the site of its main trials . . . that is not until our author initiated an undertaking to do so. In July 2017, after much planning and preparation, two Highballs were successfully lifted off the bottom of the loch.
- THE ASTONISHING ESCAPE OF ANTON HÖRNLE - In March 1945, German and French mountain troops were facing each other in the French Alps. On March 10, the commander of the 7ème Demi-Brigade de Chasseurs Alpins, Lieutenant-Colonel Alain Le Ray, decided to climb to the Pointe de Ronce, a summit overlooking the Mont Cenis plateau, to personally check on the location of the German positions. Together with Capitaine Stéphane and Lieutenant Jacques Boell, he skied up the Ribon valley to reach the Arcelle chalets on the north-eastern flank of Pointe de Ronce, where they would spend the night before setting out on the long climb the following day. On the morning of March 12, the French patrol made ready at the Arcelle chalets for the climb up to the Pointe de Ronce. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the mountain, a German medic, Sanitäts-Obergefreiter Anton Hörnle, had decided to hike up to the same peak just for alpine pleasure. He was spotted by the French party and swiftly taken prisoner! What followed is a most remarkable story of an escape that would defy belief and become the stuff of legend amongst mountaineers for years to come. Jean Paul Pallud tells us this amazing story which he dedicates to his good friend Alain Le Ray.