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Battle of Himara
Part of the Greco-Italian War
Date December 13, 1940 (1940-12-13) –December 22, 1940 (1940-12-22)
Location Himara, Albania
Result Decisive Greek victory
Belligerents
Fascist Italy

51 Infantry Division Siena

Kingdom of Greece

3rd Infantry Division 3/40 Evzone Regiment

Commanders and leaders
*Mj. General G. Bakos

The Battle of Himara (Greek: Η Μάχη της Χειμάρρας) was a military conflict that took place in the Greco-Italian War in December 1940, during the counteroffensive of the Greek Army that followed the failed Italian invasion of Greece. After the Greek victory in Himara, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, admitted that one of the causes of the Italian defeat was the high morale of the Greek troops.[1]

ContentsEdit

[hide] *1 Background

BackgroundEdit

The Italian Army, initially deployed on the Greek-Albanian border, launched a major offensive against Greece on October 28, 1940. After a two-week conflict, Greece managed to repel the invading Italians in the battles of Pindus and Elaia-Kalamas. Beginning on November 9, the Greek forces launched a counteroffensive and penetrated deep into Italian-held Albanian territory all over the front. As a result the Hellenic Armed Forces entered the cities and towns of the region one after another: Korçë, in November 22, Pogradec, in November 30, Sarandë, in December 6, and Gjirokastër, in December 8.[2]

BattleEdit

On December 13, Porto Palermo, a coastal village south of Himara came under the control of the Greek forces.[3] Two days later, the 3rd Infantry Division of the Greek Army continued the offensive towards Himara. However, the advance was slowed down due to heavy enemy counter-action, supported by air force raids, as well as extremely harsh weather conditions. On December 19, the Greek forces after a hard fight captured the Giami height.[4] Meanwhile, at the dawn of same day, the 3/40 Evzone Regiment under Col. Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos launched, without artillery preparation, a surprise attack against the Italian troops at Mount Mali i Xhorët (or Mount Pilur), a strategic spot east of Himara. The Evzones of the regiment, after being informed about the topography of the region by locals, performed a charge with fixed bayonets from various positions against the Italian garrison.[5] Although the snow was three-feet high, this eventually helped the advancing Greek troops to tackle the barbed wire to capture an Italian mountain battery.[6] After three days of fierce fighting the men of the 3rd Division took control of the height, as well as the Kuç saddle.

The successful outcome of the capture of Kuç saddle was of significant importance, since the occupation of this location gave access to the valey of Shushicë. Furthermore, the Italian troops lost six artillery guns, a mortar company and a multitude of war supplies. The Greek losses did not exceed 100 killed in action and wounded, while the Italians had approximately 400 casualties and more than 900 were taken prisoners.[4]

On December 21, the Greek forces captured the height of Tsipista northwest of Himara. To avoid encirclement the Italians abandoned Himara. Finally the Greek troops entered the town in the morning of December 22,[4] where they were welcomed by the locals with enthusiastic celebrations.[7]

AftermathEdit

The capture of Himara was celebrated as a major success in Greece and proved that the Greek army was in condition to continue the advance pushing the Italians further north.[8][9] On the other hand the Italian headquarters was alarmed by the Greek success, and on December 24 Benito Mussolini addressed his concerns to the Italian military commander, Ugo Cavallero.[4] In his letter, Mussolini, does not doubt that one of the causes of the Italian defeat was the high morale of the Greek forces, which led to their capture of Himara.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Tsirpanlis, Zacharias N. (1992). "The Morale of the Greek and the Italian Soldier in the 1940–41 War". Balkan Studies (Institute for Balkan Studies) 33: 111–190. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=eLgtT9HrKYHoOYe6kPgN&hl=el&id=gI9pAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22capture+of+Himara+by+the+Greeks%2C+does+not+doubt+the+contribution+of+high+morale+to+the+victory+of+the+enemy%22&q=%22Mussolini%2C+after+the+capture+of+Himara+by+the+Greeks%2C+does+not+doubt+the+contribution+of+high+morale+to+the+victory+of+the+enemy%22#search_anchor.
  2. ^ Willmott, H.P. (2008). The great crusade : a new complete history of the Second World War (Rev. ed. ed.). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. ISBN 978-1-59797-191-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=5L-bwPZK7PQC&pg=PA115&dq=battle+of+himara&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jrIpT52UGOja4QSSmsWyAw&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=battle%20of%20himara&f=false.
  3. ^ Sir Ronald Storrs, Philip Perceval Graves (1940). A Record of the war. Hutchinson & Co. p. 112. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=BJwqT-nTF-jR4QSqtdH6DQ&hl=el&id=lM7FuE-9M0UC&dq=himara+december+1940&q=%22porto+palermo+fell+to+the+Greeks+on+December+13%22#search_anchor.
  4. ^ a b c d An abridged history of the Greek-Italian and Greek-German war, 1940–1941: (land operations). Athens: Hellenic Army General Staff, Army History Directorate. 1997. p. 117. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=KpkqT7aPJsPqOfm0rIAO&hl=el&id=1OhmAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22on+both+sides.+During+the+same+day%2C+other+Division+troops+operating+further%22&q=%22On+December+19%2C+the+Division+troops+operating+in+the+coastal+zone+seized+the+Giami+height%2C+after%22#search_anchor.
  5. ^ Terzakis, Angelos (1990) (in Greek). Ελληνική Εποποιϊα 1940–1941. Athens: Hellenic Army General Staff. pp. 149–150. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=kKsxT5DNL6H34QSE7_2NBQ&hl=el&id=fJMJAQAAIAAJ&dq=%CE%BC%CE%AC%CE%BB%CE%B9+%CF%84%CE%B6%CF%8C%CF%81%CE%B5%CF%84&q=%22%CE%BC%CE%AC%CE%BB%CE%B9+%CF%84%CE%B6%CF%8C%CF%81%CE%B5%CF%84%22#search_anchor.
  6. ^ Sir Ronald Storrs, Philip Perceval Graves (1940). A Record of the war. Hutchinson & Co. p. 112. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=LoEtT8SOL4mAOpm97LcL&hl=el&id=lM7FuE-9M0UC&dq=%22On+the+day%22+himara+palermo&q=%22On+the+day+when+they+took+Himara%2C+they+cut+off+a+Blackshirt%22#search_anchor.
  7. ^ Tourist Guide of Himarë. Bashkia e Himarës.
  8. ^ Mosbacher, Mario Cervi ; transl. from the Italian by Eric (1972). The hollow legions: Mussolini's blunder in Greece, 1940–1941. London: Chatto & Windus. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7011-1351-3. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=UKIqT6dL6ITiBMfr-YEO&hl=el&id=kfpmAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22also+it+took+place+after+a+few+days%22&q=%22+and+went+to+show+that+the+Greeks+were+still+on+the+offensive.+During+the+days+of+relative+quiet+the+Siena+Division+was+the%22#search_anchor.
  9. ^ Willingham, Matthew (2005). Perilous commitments: the battle for Greece and Crete: 1940–1941 (1. publ. in Great Britain ed.). Staplehurst: Spellmount. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-86227-236-1. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=ZrUpT63cPMvE4gTa0J21Aw&hl=el&id=7u9mAAAAMAAJ&dq=greek+himara+1940&q=himara#search_anchor.
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