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“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein
with Mark Nisbit

After the fall of Greece to the Axis powers in April–May 1941, elements of the Greek Armed Forces managed to escape to the British-controlled Middle East. There they were placed under the Greek government in exile and continued the fight alongside the Allies until the liberation of Greece in October 1944. These are known in Greek history as the Greek Armed Forces in the Middle East.

During the invasion of Greece and Crete, the Greek army put up a stoic resistance against the Italian invaders, almost entirely beating them back to the borders, until the Axis forces were reinforced by the more modern and technologically advanced German Panzer Brigades. In the face of an unwinnable situation the Greek army evacuated thousands of officers and soldiers either by ship, or through neighbouring Turkey, to the British Middle- East, and Palestine.

In 1941, the 1st Greek Brigade began to form in Palestine, using British equipment and tactics, ready to redeem themselves in the desert against their old Italian, and newer German foes. Alongside this Brigade was a regiment of Armoured cars, which was then folded into the Artillery Regiment. The Brigade had their first taste of battle at the 2nd Battle of El Alamein.

Unfortunately for the Greeks, they suffered badly at the hands of the Elite Italian Paratroopers (The Folgore), and matters were not made any better by the composition of the Brigade. The Greek Brigade has the majority of their veteran officers removed and formed into an elite raiding group similar to the Long-Range Desert Group, referred to as the ‘Sacred Band’. 

 “Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

With the lack of experienced officers, the Greeks barely managed to hold the southern flank of the battle, alongside the British 50th Division, and it was only due to the counter-attacks in the North succeeding that took the pressure off, and allowed the Brigade to retire to safety. A lot has been said of the exploits of the ANZAC and British forces at Alamein, with very little being added to give a fair account of the actions of the Free French and Greeks, both seemingly forgotten as they languished on the southern edge of the battle.

Using Armoured Fist to field the Greek Brigade
The Greek Brigade were raised following the British Rifle Regiment formation, ergo we start with the old-fashioned ‘British Rifle Company’ as the core formation. As far as we can tell from the order of Battle, the Greeks formed a Rifle Regiment, alongside an artillery regiment and a machine-gun company.

“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

Unfortunately for the Greeks, the absence of their experienced officers opens them up for the perfect application of the ‘White Knees’ command card. This card is usually used to represent trained soldiers arriving fresh from the UK (such as the 1st Division in Tunisia). This card is a ‘Formation’ card, and is applied to all units in the formation. In order to take supporting troops from the more experienced 50th Brigade, one would have to take a second formation of British Rifles, and not apply this card. This would be costly, but would be very characterful.

Due to the restraints of the Command Cards, it would be apt to apply another card such as ‘Guards Rifle Company’, as despite their lack of training, the Greeks at Alamein held out under ferocious attacks from the Italian elite. But sadly, there is a restriction on using Command Cards to change Ratings more than once. I have however, come up with a fair compromise to represent the Greek’s stoic defence, and the name of the card is suitably apt too, given the Government and Monarchy in exile.

Giving the Greeks the ‘For King and Country’ card allows them to stay in the fight a bit longer, their Last Stand check for that turn being automatically passed as the brave soldiers of the Hellenic Army declaring; ‘Οχι!’ [No!] and fighting on

“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

“Οχι!” – Greeks at 2nd Alamein

Representing Greek Troops On The Table
The Greeks Brigade were kitted and armed in an identical manner to the British Army in the Desert; khaki shirt, shorts and socks. Unfortunately, there isn’t an awful lot of pictures of the Greek Army in the desert to call upon. The best example I could find in my own searches is shown on the left.

A colour party holding up the flag of the Greeks in exile (a white St George’s Cross upon a sky-blue field, with a golden crown in the middle). Note that their uniform is identical to the Desert Rats uniform, ignoring the white ceremonial gloves that the colour party are wearing.

I would field the Greeks using the current range of British models, but perhaps for a bit of character and variety, throw in a few officer models from the pack GK701, to represent the Greek officers who still proudly wear their own national uniform, even in British service. I will note here that this is purely a character choice, and that there’s not much evidence to support the officers having worn these uniforms on active service, not counting HRH King Georgios, above.

Last Updated On Thursday, January 24, 2019