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Capture of Klisura Pass

Capture of Klisura Pass
Part of the Greco-Italian War

Greek soldiers near a captured Italian tank
Date 6–11 January 1941
Location Albania
Result Greek victory
 Fascist Italy  Kingdom of Greece
Commanders and leaders
Ugo Cavallero Alexander Papagos

The Capture of Klisura Pass (Klisura Pass on January 1941.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Battle 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • References 4


After its successful counter-attack and the Tsolakoglou suggested the immediate capture of the Klisura pass so as to secure the Greek positions.[2]

Aerial view of the battlefield

During the period of the Greek counter-offensive, the Greek forces had much greater distances to contend with and their logistics and road network were substantially inferior compared to the Italians. The Klisura pass was a particularly strategic location toward the town of Berat and the topography of the terrain in addition to bad weather made the operation extremely difficult.[3]


The attack was led by the II Army Corps, and especially by the 1st and 11th Divisions.[4] During the battle, the Italians used for the first time the new M13 medium tanks of the Centauro Armored Division. They were used on frontal attacks, but the result was disastrous, as they were decimated by the Greek artillery fire.[5] On 10 January, after four days of fierce battles, the Greek infantry divisions finally captured the pass. The final assault that led to the location's capture was led by the recently arrived 5th Division, which consisted mainly of Cretans.[6][3]

Penetration of the Greek forces (13 November 1940-7 April 1941) and deployment of major units.

The Italian headquarters immediately launched counterattacks to recapture the sector. Italian Supreme Commander Ugo Cavallero ordered the newly arrived Lupi di Toscana Division to support the Julia Alpine Division, but the operation was ill-prepared. Although they faced only four Greek battalions, they rapidly lost one battalion of their own due to encirclement. By 11 January, the Italian attack had been pushed back and over the next days, the Lupi di Toscana were almost annihilated. This failure secured Greek possession of the pass.[7]


The capture of the strategic pass by the Greek army was considered a major success by the Allied forces, with the Commander of the British forces in the Middle East, Archibald Wavell, sending a congratulatory message to Alexander Papagos.[8]

In the following weeks, the front lines stabilized, with the Greek forces facing a bad logistical situation and the Italians managing to gain numerical superiority in order to stop their retreat. Both sides kept their positions until the German intervention in April 1941.[9]


  1. ^ "Balkan studies: biannual publication of the Institute for Balkan Studies". Balkan Studies 33: 116. 1990. 
  2. ^ Sakellariou, M. V. (1997), Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization, Ekdotike Athenon, p. 392,  
  3. ^ a b Hunt, David (1990). A don at war: Cass Series on Politics and Military Affairs in the Twentieth Century. Routledge. p. 28.  
  4. ^ Army History Directorate (Greece). .An abridged history of the Greek-Italian and Greek-German war, 1940-1941 Hellenic Army General Staff, 1997. ISBN 978-960-7897-01-5, p. 128
  5. ^ Sweet, John Joseph Timothy (1990). Iron Arm: The Mechanization of Mussolini's Army, 1920-1940. Stackpole Books. p. 155.  
  6. ^ Sir Hunt, David (1995). Greece in the Second World War. Ball State University. p. 23. 
  7. ^ MacGregor, Knox (1986). Mussolini unleashed, 1939-1941: politics and strategy in fascist Italy's last war. Cambridge University Press. pp. 258–259.  
  8. ^ Hadjipateras C.N.; Chatzēpateras Kōstas N.; Fafalios M.S.; Phaphaliou Maria S. (1996). Greece 1940-41 eyewitnessed. Efstathiadis Group. p. 97.  
  9. ^ Cervi, Mario (1972). The Hollow Legions. London: Chatto and Windus. pp. 309, 320.  

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