Across the Greek Divide

James Barker describes the impact of an SOE mission in wartime Greece 70 years ago this month to demolish the Gorgopotamos railway bridge.

The Gorgonpotamos viaduct blown up in 1942 by SOE and subsequently rebuilt.One cold moonlit night in November 1942 saboteurs serving with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) blew up an important railway viaduct at Gorgopotamos in Axis-occupied Greece. The operation, code-named Harling, was intended to disrupt the flow of supplies to Rommel’s Afrika Korps in North Africa via Piraeus. Led by two British officers, Lt-Colonel E.C.W. Myers and his deputy, Major C.M. Woodhouse, the 12-man team included New Zealand and Indian combat engineers and Lieutenant Themistocles Marinos, its only Greek member. They were reinforced by three Cypriot and Palestinian escapees and 130 partisans from the Communist-dominated Ellinikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos (ELAS) or Greek National Liberation Army and their centre-right political foes, Ethnikos Dimokratikos Ellinikos Syndesmos (EDES) or the National Republican Greek League.

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