Hi Indy and Timeghost crew, i am curious about the preparations that the Greek government underwent in order to be prepared for a possible attack. Surely they saw that the war became steadily global and that the Italians were looking to expand in the Mediterranean and Balkan regions. Did they have any inside information from defectors, the Allies or their own spies? What kind of plans, defensive or offensive, were drawn?
Since the italian occupation of Albania in april 1939 the Greek had increased the alert level and started to consider the possibility of an italian attack. In summer 1940 the fascist propaganda started a press campaign against Greece thus ringing additional alarm bells for Metaxas (the greek dictator). In august 1940 the sinking of the greek cruiser Helli by an italian sub made clear that the italian aggression would have come pretty soon. The greek had thus time to build up and prepare and already on October 25th Greek diplomats informed Athens that the italian attack would have occurred in the next few days (which it did on October 28th).
I used as reference the book of Mario Cervi “La campagna di Grecia” (1965)
From March 1939, Greek Intelligence had information that an Italian invasion was likely to happen. In general, Metaxas regime from 1936 spend large amounts of money for the reorganization and rearmament of the Greek Armed Forces. Also, to counter the Italian threat, Greece chose to align with Britain, signing a trade agreement with the latter in January 1940, which provided the limitation of exports to Germany and the use of the Greek merchant fleet to the British war effort.
After August 15, 1940, when the Italians torpedoed the cruiser “Elli”, the entire state machine started to prepare for war. On August 23, 8th Division (based at Epirus) and 9th Division (based at Western Macedonia), were mobilized in the highest possible secrecy. Concurently, the goverment started to inform civilians about what must be done in the eventuality of the war, schools conducted drills to the pupils about the event of an aerial bombardment etc.
The Greek General Staff designed the “Plan IB” (Italy-Bulgaria), which had two scenarios: An Italian attack from Albania, and a combined Italo-Bulgarian attack from Albania and Eastern Macedonia (as Bulgaria was a revisionist Balkan power, due to her defeat in WWI, Metaxas Line was built to counter that threat).
The plan provided the retreat of the Greek Army to the line Arachthos River – Metsovo – Aliakmon River – Mt. Vermion, but was modified twice (IBa on September 1st, 1939 and IBb on April 20, 1940), as was deemed too defensive and giving a territorrial advantage to the Italians from the beginning. The modification had as result to give complete liberty of movement and decision to the 8th Division commander, who was going to receive the first wave of the invasion.
In conclusion, the Greek armed forces and populace were expecting the war as a certainty, so, they were fully prepared for it, in contrast with the Italians, who underestimated their opponents, and made many strategic, mobilization and Intelligence blunders.