Grouping to Intelligence Sergeant G. Papadopoulos, 559 Infantry Battalion.
Grouping belonging to my grandfather, Georgios Papadopoulos, who served during the Greek Civil War, accompanied by the info I could gather about his service from related literature and by interviewing him.
Born in 1924, he was to be enlisted in 1945, but since there were no structures and resources for the training of recruits, pre-war reservists were called to arms in the National Guard. In 1946 the first armed conflicts began and the continuous service (this being the third call to arms) for these men was creating a major political problem. In 1947, the first recruits with no previous service were called to arms and among them, my grandfather, on March 30, 1947, in the Basic Training Center of Alexandroupoli, Evros.
Photos were taken during his basic training.
His basic training was rather fast, as he was transferred to 559 Infantry Battalion (stationed at that time in Pentalofos, Evros prefecture) of the 27th Brigade, VII Infantry Division, 3rd Army Corps, 15 days later. The 3rd Army Corps controlled the area of Central/Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace, where the terrain dictated a war based on small scale operations for both sides and sabotage techniques for the Democratic Army. This sector didn't see many major battles, but the way in which the war was conducted here, shaped really stressful conditions.
In Pentalofos, he spent some time in guard duties on the Greek-Bulgarian and Greek-Turkish borders. He remembers his chatting with a Turkish 2nd Lt., the surrendering of some Bulgarian soldiers defecting from Bulgaria and some skirmishes with Bulgarian outposts and partisans of the Democratic Army.
On October 29, 1947 he was sent to Thessaloniki, to be trained as an NCO. He was sent there with some other men of his unit and they spent 5-6 days in civilian clothing, riding the trams, before reporting for duty! The training took place in the building of the local YMCA. During his stay there, members of the Communist Party planned an attack on the building, but they were betrayed by one of their own. He attended the Court Martial, where some of these men were sentenced to death and executed. On December 1947, he returned to Pentalofos and on January 1, 1948, was promoted to Corporal.
He spent his time on guard and patrol duties in Pentalofos and around the area of Soufli, where he remembers something characteristic of the type of war fought in the area: The Democratic Army was sabotaging and mining the road and railroad network, in an effort to inflict casualties and reduce morale, but also to create political instability by creating an atmosphere of instability. Consequently, much of the patrolling was done along these arteries. One time, they searched an old woman, finding a hidden Tellermine in her lamb's fodder.
The 27th Brigade executed two sweeping operations codenamed "Pappous" (Grandfather) in Evros, in the area of Didymoteicho, on August 11-25 and September 2-7, 1948. The 559 gave intense and tough attack, defense and counterattack battles on the hills against the forces of the Democratic Army, who chose to stand their ground instead of executing retreat maneuvers before the superiority of the governmental forces. The partisans fled when the continuing of the fight would turn to their disadvantage and the operations were in both instances called successful for the 3rd Army Corps, something that is maybe technically true only on the strategic level and just for a short period of time. The initial objectives demanded that the forces of the 27th would sweep the area clear and if possible, they would trap and destroy the partisan forces and their installations. Although the latter happened, the partisans fled the area of operations on their own initiative, after inflicting heavy casualties, including the death of the Brigade Commander and the wounding of the replacing Brigadier, a few days later. It wouldn't take long until they would return and continue their activity for longer than a year.
During these battles, my grandfather's Company, was ambushed and nearly captured during a reconnaisance in force movement, losing a platoon commander. After the end of the operation, since the partisans had fled, he was ordered to transport POWs and his 30 horses to Didymoteicho, by catching the train. On the way, one of his men stepped on a mine and died in his arms.
He took part in reconaissance and battles near Siderokastron, Serres, where the Democratic Army, using the abandoned Metaxas' Line fortresses, was directing artillery fire against the railway network and attacked the nearby villages' National Guard and armed volunteers' detachments. On September 14, he was promoted to Sergeant and on 30 he was documented a reservist, although he was not to be discharged till the end of the war. He spent this winter in Echinos, in the north of Xanthi, on guard and patrol duties.
On August 9, 1949 he was transferred to the Divisional HQ in Kavala, to be trained as Intelligence NCO and stayed there till September 1.
During this time, the war was coming to an end, with the Democratic Army losing its strongholds in Vitsi and Grammos. In the 3rd Corps' sector, the decisive blow in the area of Central Macedonia, was to be given in Beles, against the remaining forces using again the abandoned Metaxas' Line fortesses. After small scale battles, the partisans fled to Bulgaria and the operation was complete.
These photos were taken just after. Notice the US boots and caps. At that time, the US had completely taken over the supplying of the National Army from the British.
He was later transferred to Stavroupoli, again to the north of Xanthi, commanding the guard of 3 pillboxes. After 36 months of service, he was discharged on December 6, 1949.
His service booklet and the pages with the related entries.
In these last photos, he is wearing this wartime made, US side cap.
A souvenir piece: 0.303 Lee-Enfield rifle bullet.