British Forces Parade in Athens - 22 October 1944

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by gmyles, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    This rare colour picture was taken on 22nd October 1944, just over a week after the British liberation of Greece (Operation Manna). The parade was held at the Tomb Of the Unknown Soldier in Athens.

    The naval officer on the far right of the picture is Rear Admiral Charles Edward Turle, Senior Naval Officer Greece (SNOG).

    The Officer standing at the head of the Army component is Brigadier Robert Harry Bertram Arkwright. Commander of all assault forces landing in Greece (ARKFORCE) during Op Manna.

    Behind Brigadier Arkwright, with bayonets fixed, in the centre of the picture are 50 troops from 50th Royal Tank Regiment, under the command of Captain Anthony Langton Gilks.

    Top left of picture is an armoured car of 46th Royal Tank Regiment. To the the right of them is a field gun team from 463-104 Royal Horse Artillery. The infantry behind 50 RTR are probably 40 RTR (Black berets) and 11th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps (Biege berets). Top right are two more 46 RTR armoured cars. All units are from 23rd Armoured Brigade which sailed over from Egypt.

    The navy detachment is probably from HMS Orion, Rear Admiral Mansfield's Flagship.

    The band was from 4th Hussars.

    My father was in 23rd Armoured Brigade but was still in Egypt, with a rear party, when this was taken.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  2. Steven Gorman

    Steven Gorman New Member

    Hi Gus,
    I'm a new member ...
    Has the image disappeared or am I just being dull!
    I'm doing research on my fathers wartime exploits ( he was in either the 40th or 46th RTR ... I should know more when his service records turn up) and a link sent me to this ... I remember him telling me ( decades ago )about them not having any tanks in Greece just Bren carriers and how vulnerable they felt as anybody, civilians included could just lob a grenade into them. He subsequently had a pal shot and killed alongside him in a doorway and by all accounts was in a bit of a state when he returned home on leave. Photos of this campaign are rarer than hens teeth, I wonder if the political nature of the conflict has suppressed a lot of stuff

  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Steve

    The image disappeared when the forum had its hardware upgraded a while back. I have put it back in now.

    My father was in Greece as well. He was a driver in 23rd Armoured Brigades REME workshop.

    You are right, Greece was not a nice place to be in December 1944. A bit like N Ireland, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya all rolled into one mad 7 week period.

    You are right, 23rd Armoured Brigade went to Greece without any tanks, initially as they went there as peacekeepers. They were dismounted and retrained as infantry in Palestine and Egypt prior to going to Greece in October 1944. They went to Greece with just a squadron of Armoured Cars (A Squadron 46 RTR).

    The troubles with ELAS flared up on 3rd December 1944. Gen Scobie anticitaped this and ordered 46 RTR to get their tanks which were on a MT Ship in Piraeus harbour on 21st november. By 3rd December 46 RTR had 26 tanks. 40 RTR had to wait until 17th December 1944 for their 18 Shermans to come over from Italy. 50 RTR finally got their 18 tanks on 21st December.

    23rd Armoured Brigade suffered as many casualties as the Paras.

    Lots of photos of Paras and Shermas but little else I am afraid.

    You are lucky that your father talked about his time in Greece. My father didn't.

    When his service records arrive PM me and I'll send you so what I think you should find useful.

    Hope this helps

    Mark Surridge and 4jonboy like this.
  4. Steven Gorman

    Steven Gorman New Member

    Hi Gus,
    Thanks for your prompt and extensive reply. I'll let you know when his records arrive.
    Many thanks again
    Mark Surridge likes this.
  5. Mark Surridge

    Mark Surridge Junior Member

    Gus and Steve , I have enjoyed reading your texts and wonder whether either of you can help me place my Father in Athens at this time....

    My Father, Major Robert Surridge, (1920-91) , was with 4th Indian Division, 1st Field Regiment Royal Artillery, and after Monte Casino he landed at Salonika and then made his way to Athens, I believe via Piraeus Harbour....

    His reminiscences went like this ;

    “As we advanced into Athens I asked my radio operator to see if he could tune into the BBC and suddenly there was this beautiful singing. It was the Christmas Eve and carols were being broadcast from Kings College, Cambridge. But for that chance discovery we would never have known that it was Christmas.”

    " ..and as I was senior officer with a cheque in my wallet that I had to cash in the Central Bank in Athens, as I had to pay all the troops."

    His recollection was in Piraeus Harbour he found himself firing at retreating German forces and was fired upon by the Greek Communists in ELAAS.

    Later in the streets of Athens, he was hurled to the ground by some fellow Allied soldiers, Americans as he recalls, as the Communist partisans opened fire.He was lucky to escape with his life.

    “On another occasion I was advancing into Athens and we were ambushed and as we came under fired from the Communist rebels and but for the quick thinking of one of my men I would have been killed. They were shooting at us from behind but we returned fire and killed them."

    Any clues ? Or any assistance form any member would be greatly appreciated.
    Chris C and Charley Fortnum like this.
  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    The following two documents may be of help:

    After the Battle Magazine for Athens 1944:
    Athens, December 1944 [After the Battle №155].pdf

    Divisional Report on the Campaign In Greece:
    History Of 4th Indian Infantry Division in Greece.pdf

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