Introduction: The war

The occupation of Albania by the Italians in 1939, which revealed the intentions of the Italians in the region of the eastern Mediterranean, was the prelude for the expansion of the war into the Balkan area. An Italian attack on Greece seemed inevitable, despite the declared opposition of Hitler and the attempts of Ioannis Metaxas who, standing between the traditional harnessing of his country's foreign policy to England and the pro-German spirit of the Fascistic Regime he had himself established (encompassing differences which separated it from its European counterparts), was trying to preserve the neutrality of the country.
However, after a series of warning acts which culminated in the torpedoing by the Italians of the cruiser Elli on 15 August 1940 in the harbour of Tinos, they all came to nothing in light of the Greek government's refusal to respond to these provocations. On 28 October 1940 the Italians despatched an ultimatum that demanded the free passage of Italian troops through Greek territory and the control of numerous strategic points in the country. The rejection of this humiliating ultimatum by Ioannis Metaxas, which coincided with the general attitude of the Greek people as a whole, led to the automatic declaration of war on Greece by the Italians, a war fought in the mountains of Epirus.