Battle of Elaia–Kalamas

Battle of Elaia–Kalamas
Part of the Greco-Italian War
Kalamas1939.JPG
Trench construction in Elaia–Kalamas line by Greek military personnel, March 1939
Date2–8 November 1940
LocationEpirus
39°35′12″N 20°08′32″E / 39°35′12″N 20°08′32″E / 39.58667; 20.14222
ResultGreek victory
Belligerents
 Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Greece
Commanders and leaders
Ezio Rossi (XXV Army Corps)
Gen. Giannini (Ferrara Div.)
Gen. Maglie (Centauro Div.)
Charalambos Katsimitros (8th Inf. Div.)
Nikolaos Lioumbas (Thesprotia Sector)
Dimitrios Giatzis (Kalamas Sector)
Georgios Dres (Negrades Sector)[1]
Strength
42,000 men
23rd Inf. Div. Ferrara
6 battalions
2 battalions of blackshirts
44 guns
131st Arm. Div. Centauro
3 motorized battalions
170 light tanks
32 guns
Elements 51st Inf. Div. Siena
Air Force:
400 aircraft
15 battalions
56 guns (14 batteries)[1]
Casualties and losses
unknown total
partial data:
28 October – 5 November:
160 killed
41 missing
561 wounded
unknown total
partial data:
1–5 November:[2]
59 killed
208 wounded
Battle of Elaia–Kalamas is located in Greece
Battle of Elaia–Kalamas

The Battle of Elaia–Kalamas (Greek: Μάχη Ελαίας-Καλαμά, Machi Elaias-Kalama) took place in Epirus from 2–8 November 1940. The battle was fought between the Greeks and the Italians during the initial stage of the Greco-Italian War. The Italian Army, deployed on the Greek-Albanian border, launched an offensive against Greece on 28 October 1940. The main thrust of the Italian invasion occurred in the Epirus sector, with a further flanking move through the Pindus mountains. In Epirus, the Greeks held the ElaiaKalamas river line, and even though the Greek army was outnumbered, the local Greek forces under Major General Charalambos Katsimitros managed to stop the Italian advance.[3] Along with the Italian failure in the Battle of Pindus, these Greek successes signified the complete failure of the Italian invasion, leading to the dismissal of the Italian commander in Albania, Sebastiano Visconti Prasca, on 9 November. In the next few weeks the Greek forces managed to initiate a counter-offensive, which forced the Italians to retreat deep into Albania.

Background

After the Italian invasion of Albania in April 1939, the Greek General Staff became alerted to a potential Italian attack from Albanian territory. Faced with the strong likelihood of a concerted Italian-Bulgarian attack against both Epirus and Macedonia-Thrace, the main Greek contingency plan, codenamed "IB" (for "Italy-Bulgaria"), essentially prescribed a defensive stance in Epirus. Two versions of the plan existed: the first suggested forward defence on the border line, while the second dictated initial defense in an intermediate position prior to a gradual retreat to the Arachthos RiverMetsovoAliakmon RiverMt. Vermio line, leaving most of Epirus in Italian hands. It was left to the judgment of the local commander of the 8th Infantry Division, based in Ioannina, Charalambos Katsimitros, to choose which plan to follow.[3] A significant factor in Greek favor was that they had managed to obtain intelligence about the approximate date of the attack, and had just completed a limited mobilization in the areas facing the expected Italian plans.[4]