Osprey's The Balkans 1940-41 (1)


Pier Paolo Battistelli


Osprey Publishing


$24.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-4257-2

The Balkans have been an area of conflict for many years. In 1939, Italy invaded Albania in Mussolini's desire to have control over the entrance of the Adriatic Sea. A year later, Mussolini eyed Greece as the next addition to the Italian empire. With much of the rest of Europe's attention on the fighting in North Africa (where Italy also had troops), it was felt that the underarmed Greek Army would be a pushover.

Italy did have a fairly large army available, however, what it didn't have were properly trained troops. Most of these were reservists call up on active duty. Many had no training on the weapons they would operate and their officers had little tactical or strategic knowledge of battle. The Greeks, on the other hand, while lacking modern weapons and with no armor and a small air force, had very high morale and were fighting for their homeland.

The Italians initially made major gains, pushing the Greeks back. However, their long build up due to inadequate ports in Albania from which to offload ships, gave the Greeks the opportunity to prepare. The Greeks also had some great strategic and tactical thinkers heading their army. The result was that the Italians got so far and then were stopped. The beginning of the winter also put the Italians in a bad spot as their troops were not prepared for the cold. Slowly the Italians were pushed back. While the Greeks had no tanks, they captured enough Italian tankettes to make up a brigade and put those to good use. Eventually, the Italians were pushed out of Greece altogether and into Albania. A month after this, the Germans got involved and that is part 2.

Few people outside the general area are aware of the short Greco-Italian war other than Mussolini botched it and needed Germany to pull them out of trouble. The author does a superlative job of telling the story of this conflict, from the build up, through the various battles and the back and forth movement of the lines. The various armies and leaders are profiled, giving their strengths and weaknesses. All of this is additionally enhanced by some great period photos as well as the maps and illustrations of Adam Hook, who many of you will recognize from other editions.

In all, it is a well done history of a fairly unknown campaign and well worth picking up.

February 2021

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