Mussolini plays Hitler like a Fiddle – The Invasion of Greece – WW2 – 062 – November 2, 1940

Mussolini plays Hitler like a Fiddle – The Invasion of Greece – WW2 – 062 – November 2, 1940

November 2, 1940 Although Italian leader Benito Mussolini has
said to his Germany ally that he has no designs on Greece until after taking Egypt, that is
not the case, for this week- Italy invades Greece. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week Adolf Hitler met with Vichy French
and Spanish leaders to try and get them to join him in a coalition against Britain. It didn’t work out how he wanted. Meanwhile, Italy was preparing to invade Greece. And as I said, that begins this week. Around 0300 the morning of the 28th, the Italian
ambassador to Greece issues an ultimatum, but it’s basically a declaration of war
since the Italians are crossing the border from Albania before it even expires and the
Greco-Italian War begins. The Italians hope that Bulgaria will also
attack Greece. Now, different sources claim that Hitler does
not know, or likely does know that this was coming. Martin Gilbert says Hitler gets the news on
his train to Florence to meet Mussolini the night of the 27th. John Keegan says that Hitler likely knew since
his meeting back on the 4th with Mussolini. Either way, Hitler is not happy, thinking
this attack a strategic error and moving on Crete or Alexandria would’ve made more sense. Italian General Sebastiano Prasca leads 8
divisions in from Albania. They attack in three lines; the main one in
center. Now, General Alexandros Papagos, Greek C-inC,
has not deployed near the border because he didn’t want to provoke the Italians. He plans on using 8 divisions as well, but
he’s leaving four divisions in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia in case the Bulgarians do
also attack. His line of defense is from Lake Prespa and
then along the river Thyamis to the coast. He does not have tanks or anti-tank guns,
nor much in the way of modern aircraft The weather the first few days is terrible
and denies the Italians any air support. This might not be the best time of the year
for an attack. “Italian troops advanced in a heavy downpour. They did not get far. It had already rained solidly for two days. Torrential streams and rivers washed away
bridges and the Greeks, well aware of the attack, which had been an open secret in Rome,
blew up others. Unpaved roads became virtually impassable
in the thick mud.” The Battle of Pindus begins the 28th. Prasca doesn’t think the Pindus Mountains
will be a problem for his troops to cross, but that might not be the case. Still, the Julia Division, some of the best
Italian troops, cover 40 km of mountainous ground and take Vovousa by the end of the
week. Their goal is Metsovo. Greece’s Pindus Detachment under Colonel
Konstantinos Davakis is deployed along the 30 or so km that separate the Epirus and Macedonia
sectors. They’re the link, but Davakis is seriously
wounded at the end of the week. Still, by that time, other than the Julia
Division, the Italians have not gotten very far. They do bomb Salonika the 2nd, though. Here’s a war story, also from the 2nd- Greek
pilot Marinos Mitralexis runs out of ammunition in a dogfight, so he rams his plane into an
Italian Savoia-Marchetti. SM 79 bomber, lands his damaged fighter, and
captures the bomber crew, who have parachuted from their plane. That’s pretty cool. Well, I said earlier that Hitler was heading
to Florence to meet Mussolini. At that meeting, Hitler conceals any anger
at not being told about the Italian plans beforehand, and says that German troops will
be available If they need to keep Britain out of Greece and away from the Romanian oil
fields. Greece is Britain’s only continental ally
at this point. Mussolini claims that if he didn’t do this
attack then Britain would establish bases in Greece, but if this is the case- and really,
his purpose of the attack was to emulate Hitler and gain glory- but if this IS the case, then
it immediately backfires, for the British occupy Crete and Lemnos and begin to mine
Greek coastal waters. On the 1st, a small British bomber force arrives
to help the Greeks. British PM Winston Churchill will order more
planes to go in over the next few days. In fact half of the RAF strength from Egypt
goes to Greece. Churchill feels it very necessary to act on
the guarantees Britain has given to Greece. This should help public opinion in neutral
places like Turkey or in the Balkans. Greece is careful, though, not to allow the
British anything more than short range facilities. Hitler does have concrete reasons to be upset;
the British will be within bombing reach of those oilfields, Germany’s main oil supply,
if they get bases near Salonika. It also can maybe mess things up in the Balkans. Hitler’s idea at the moment is that that
region could be made satellite states by diplomacy- the Italian aggression could be a spanner
in the works there. And this cannot help but provoke the USSR,
and that’s the last thing Hitler wants to do, since he plans to ambush them next spring,
and he’s meeting Soviet FM Vyacheslav Molotov November 12th, so he’s gotta start thinking
of contingency plans. I’ll talk more about them in a couple weeks. For now, I’ll say this: He tells Fedor von
Bock, his Poland army group commander, “What will transpire in the east is still an open
question; circumstances may force us to step in to forestall any more dangerous developments”. There are developments that may prove to involve
danger this week to the south. At a meeting in Khartoum the 29th to discuss
future African strategy, South African PM Jan Smuts thinks the British should keep the
Italians guessing where and when they will attack, should prepare for rapid attacks,
and should capture the port of Kismayu at the beginning of any offensive against Italian
Somaliland. Douglas Dickinson, in charge of the East Africa
force, wants to split the South African forces he commands and only use them for defense. He doesn’t quite realize how influential
Smuts is with Churchill. Dickinson is also pretty unpopular in Nairobi. Well, long story short- or short story shorter,
“It is not entirely clear who made the actual decision to relieve him of his command, but
(Archie) Wavell delivered the news.” His replacement in charge of the Commonwealth
and British forces in East Africa is Lieutenant-General Sir Alan Cunningham, brother of Admiral Sir
Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C of the British Mediterranean Fleet. Actually, General Francis Nosworthy was the
original choice to be sent to Nairobi from Britain. Nosworthy needed to have a minor operation
that would delay his departure, so Cunningham got the nod instead. There is fighting between British and Italian
forces this week. The Italian sub Sciré is just off of Gibraltar. The plan is to attack the naval base there
with manned torpedoes. Now, these are an Italian secret weapon. The Maiale- the pig- has a little electric
motor, and men in diving suits ride astride it, guiding it slowly and cumbersomely- hence
the nickname- toward its target. Once there, the warhead of the torpedo can
be detached and used as a limpet mine. The attack the 31st is a pretty daring plan
but it fails, and has a consequence- a faulty torpedo that is ditched, is detected and recovered
by the British. They take it for analysis and it will become
the master for future British designs. Britain is still being attacked by Italy at
home as well. On October 29th, 15 Italian BR 20s with a
strong fighter escort attack Ramsgate by day. This is in response to the bombing of several
Italian cities. The planes are painted bright blue and pale
green, which isn’t the best camouflage over Britain. And as for the German attacks on Britain- October 31st marks the last daylight raid
by the Germans on Britain, and many people consequently call that date the end of the
Battle of Britain. This means the end of trying to defeat Fighter
Command to secure the skies over Britain, which is necessary before any invasion. The Blitz will continue, but with a change. See, in October, six times as many tons of
bombs were dropped on Britain by night as were by day, and from now on the Blitz will
be entirely by night. Germany has finally acknowledged that the
losses are too great to continue the daytime attacks. In August and September, Britain’s Fighter
Command lost 832 fighters and the Luftwaffe 668, BUT Germany lost almost 600 bombers,
and this is what really swung the balance. But Britain has many interests far from home
to think about as well. On the 31st, British Military Intelligence
reports a huge motorization program in the German army and a long term and steady movement
of troops from Western Europe to Poland- they say 70 German divisions are now in the east. What they do not know is whether these forces
are going to be used for actions in the Soviet Union or in the Middle East. They’re pretty certain though, that they
are going to be used for “actions”. I notice, though, that this week, American
President Franklin Roosevelt, hot on the campaign trail before next week’s election, is promising
no action for the American people. “I have said this before, but I shall say
it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. And so the week comes to an end. A week where a great new battle begins in
Greece and a great old one ends over Britain. Plans are debated at Khartoum, and an Italian
secret weapon attacks at Gibraltar. The end of the Battle of Britain. I think I’ll end today with two quotes from
John Keegan about that. “It had been a heroic episode. “The few” deserved their epitaph: some
2,500 young pilots had alone been responsible for preserving Britain from invasion. The majority were citizens, but significant
numbers were Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans… A few were aliens, Irishmen and Americans…
and a vital minority were refugees, Czechs and Poles; the latter who formed 5% of “the
few”, were responsible for 15% of the losses claimed to have been inflicted on the Luftwaffe.” And this: “The victory of “the few” was narrow… Had Hitler and Göring been privy to the extent
of their success during the height of the battle, when a quarter of Fighter Command’s
pilots became casualties… they undoubtedly would have surpassed their effort. Had they done so, the Luftwaffe might then
have made itself the first air force to achieve a decisive victory in combat as an independent
strategic arm… As it was, the pragmatism of Dowding and his
Fighter Command staff, the self-sacrifice of their pilots, and the innovation of radar
inflicted on Nazi Germany its first defeat.” True, it isn’t the defeat of a land invasion,
Nazi Germany is 100% successful so far in that respect, but Britain does live to fight
another day. If you want to know more about how the military
airforce came into being, check out our Between 2 Wars episode about the origins of aviation
in the US. It is right here. Our Patreon of the week is Kelsey, a big fan
of me, and I love her for her support. So do like Kelsey, earn my love, and join
the TimeGhost Army at or Subscribe, click the bell, share these videos
and see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Mussolini plays Hitler like a Fiddle – The Invasion of Greece – WW2 – 062 – November 2, 1940

  1. This week covers about two major events with effects that will ripple through the remainder of the war. Actually, both have been attributed by historians for being 'the one event' that caused the war to end as it did. You'll have to stick around to find out how and when that will be though. Though I can tell you one thing now. History is rarely that simple. If you like our series and want to enable us to cover the complex web of events, locations, individuals and techniques that changed the outcome of the war, please consider supporting us on or on our own website at If you would like to make a one-time contribution, you can do so via PayPal to ([email protected]).
    Cheers, Joram

    STAY CIVIL AND POLITE we will delete any comments with personal insults, or attacks.
    AVOID PARTISAN POLITICS AS FAR AS YOU CAN we reserve the right to cut off vitriolic debates.
    HATE SPEECH IN ANY DIRECTION will lead to a ban.
    RACISM, XENOPHOBIA, OR SLAMMING OF MINORITIES will lead to an immediate ban.

  2. I want to know more about Canada's involvement, particuliary how they started with practically no navy and ended with one of the best at the end of ww2, and the small but very important skyrmishes in the Saint-lawrence gulf/river between german u-boats and canadian coastal defences. Thanks alot for all the hard work guys!

  3. Hitler: "So Mussolini my army plans and spaces out our invasions to get maximum preparations and logistic underhand.

    Mussolini: "Yeah and?"

    Hitler: "Your army isn't doing as well as you said it was. Can you try imitating us?"

    Mussolini: "Oh so a blitz? Ok."

    Hitler: …

  4. It's a common myth in Britain that the RAF were somehow better than the Luftwaffe, or they had better planes or pilots. Which is simply not true, the main reason the RAF had an advantage was because they were fighting of their turf, easier to get down and rearm/refuel, plentiful runways and a friendly population to any RAF pilot who needs to land or bailout. The Luftwaffe by contrast only had a short window of flying time over Britain and if there was any kind of trouble or something went wrong they were fucked.

  5. Some things need to be stressed out about Metaxas. First of all, he was a Fascist. There is actually a picture of him and his associates doing the nazi salute. Moreover the entire ideology behind his dictatorship was based on the ultranationalist notion of the third greek civilization that "would last a thousand years" (just like the reich according to Goebells would). He destroyed all the massive fascist organizations like EEE just to replace them with his own: EON. EON actually used to burn books.
    The only reason metaxas fought agaisnt the axis was because Greece was inside the British sphere of influence. Metaxas's goverment was actually a representative of British interests in the Mediterranean.
    Metaxas jailed communists and democratic people while at the same time imposed censorship in popular greek music: Rebetika. Many Rebetika musicians stopped recording because of this (what a service he was to actual greek civilization!!).

  6. My greatgrandfather answered the call of the nation that morning of October 28th, left behind hiS wife with his 5 children, fought at the fronline and after the surrender, he walked down from North Epirus to his village back to his family with his head held high. He wasn't defeated by the Italians.

    We salute our heroes. o7

  7. That dawn, envoy arrives

    Morning of October 28th

    No day, proven by deed

    Descendants of Sparta,

    Athens and Crete!

    Look north, ready to fight

    Enemies charge from the hills

    To arms, facing? defeat

    There’s no surrender,

    there’s no retreat

    Time after time,

    force their enemies back to the line

    Call to Arms banners fly in the wind,

    For the glory of Hellas

    Coat of Arms reading freedom or death,

    Blood of king Leonidas

    Air raid, pounding the land

    Bombers are flying both day and night

    Endure, six days of rain

    Dropped by invaders,

    bomb raid in vain

    Strike hard, the tables have turned,

    Drive them back over the hills

    At arms, just like before,

    Soldiers, civilians, Hellas at war

    By their own hand,

    force their enemy out of their land

    Call to Arms banners fly in the wind,

    For the glory of Hellas

    Coat of Arms reading freedom or death,

    Blood of king Leonidas

    Just like their ancestors ages ago

    Fought in the place of the Greeks

    Cause we will remember what the place were called

    Freedom or death in the plains

    Just like their ancestors ages ago

    Fought in the face of defeat

    Those three hundred men left a pride to uphold

    Freedom or death in effect

    Then, now again

    Blood of heroes saving their land

    Call to Arms banners fly in the wind,

    For the glory of Hellas

    Coat of Arms reading freedom or death,

    Blood of king Leonidas……

  8. (Insert Sabaton meme)


  9. Roosevelt: "I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."

    Japan: "Hold my saké . . ."

  10. Another Week, another front and as we have seen countless times before, another impending disaster. But at least the Brits have something to be happy about. Just curious what those troops in the east will be used for

  11. … Perhaps the British affinity for Greece is Princess Alice and the Nazi past of the British Royal Family comes thru Princess Alice's daughters …

  12. 3:50 Grece is the only continental ally? What about Portugal? They have as far I know the longest standing alliance in the world with UK?

  13. 2:45 Even in HOI4 you need a good plan to invade Greece

    The mountains and the lack of space can make a hell invade Greece if you don’t have a Swift army

  14. You forgot to say that: "Turkey will defend Greece if Bulgaria invades Greece"
    Yes Turkey was gonna help Greece ikr strange

  15. Italy's population and industrial capacity are much greater than Greece's, surely this will be an easy victory for Italy, right? Right?

  16. Though I would make a memable comment about this like I do for most videoes, this forgotten piece of WWII history has a few interesting implications. For starter's it was the first time that an allied (albeit recently) nation not only stopped the axis powers, but was the first to reverse their gains for a sustained period of time. Such a feat would only be repeated a year or two later by the great powers through much bloodshead and material sacrifices. However it was poor and underequipped Ελλάς that was the first to do so through the esprit de corps of its people and the determination of its leadership.

    Frankley, I wish that my people, military and goverment still had the same spirit to face our problems as did their grandparents all those decades ago.

  17. surprised that British Army would ultimately give way on Mainland Greece to the Germans here and leave the guerilla War to Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia. Probably another "Royal Family" thing..

  18. My great-grandfather fought in the Greek army in Macedonia during this time, he survived the war, but he died in the Greek civil war.

  19. The blitz was a godsend to us a whole, as another coupla weeks of strategic bombing of our air force bases would have been the beginning of the end for us

  20. Question for Out of the Foxhole: Had Italy not invaded Greece, was it likely that Britain would've established some kind of military presence in the country as a launching off point to attack Germany's oil supply in Romania?

  21. "But Britain does live to fight another day" I think this applies for the entire first half of the war, they really had an unbreakable morale

  22. In this war the Greek state mobilizes about 80 thousand Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia who call Greeks today Slavonic Greeks. Most of these Macedonians in the Greek Army were sent to Albania killing 4.5 thousand of them and wounding several thousand and rescuing Greece from the Italian army's invasion on the florina and kastoria. Greek state return to these Macedonians who fought for the Greek state in 1940 by using American and British planes and aviation with bombs to burn their villages and expel 200,000 Macedonians to Yugoslavia Bulgaria and the USSR .

  23. I fear this story will go on for quite some time. Also, Julia Division? Again, maybe we'll hear from them again in the possible near future…

    For Indy's eyes:
    The "c" in Marchetti is a strong one, like the c in cane or in castle. If you want, you could pronounce it as mark-etti, though!

    While the c in shirè, the submarine, is a soft one. It sounds closer to the "sh" of should! ^^

    Keep rolling on, TimeGhosts!

  24. 3:20 – I once read an almost-exact version of this story told about a Soviet fighter pilot, only it was a He-111 he forced out of the air (and he killed several resisting German crewmen on the ground including a dog, because Barbarossa). Glad to find there's at least some truth to this scenario.

  25. As we get into the Battle of Greece, I'm curious if Roald Dahl or Prince Philip did anything cool. If anyone in the comments knows, I'd love to hear!

  26. Mussolini lying to his ally, Roosevelt lying to his ppl, Hitler making weird faces to hide his anger towards Mussolini, Italy going with war with a mountainous country AGAIN and not making much progress AGAIN. What a week….

  27. There’s a theory that Mussolini ordered the attack on Greece to pull British troops from Egypt to Greece, hence the buildup the Brits later did on Crete. This would help the Italian push the Alexandria, but as you know, it didn’t happen. The attack on Greece was a diversionary tactic and not meant to be an all-out campaign that decimated the Italians like it did.

  28. I wonder if he did it in person by stroking Hitler's ego? With Trump nowadays I can see much more clearly how easy some egotistical leaders must be to scam.

  29. First magnetic mines, now manned torpedos. It's quite comedic how many naval secret weapons the British got access to via sheer good luck on their part and bad luck on the Axis' part.

  30. Benito is that friend who was doing better than you, but you surpass them, and they can't stand it.

    Oh Benito. You next few years are going to suck.

  31. Long time sub.
    I love your work so much.
    Thank you for the efforts of the whole team.

    I just noticed that this page said I was not subbed to you.
    I clicked on this video from my commended list.
    I have subbed again and will check my subs on your other channels.

    Edit 2
    Other subs are fine.

  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt used; "Promises of peace"
    Cost: 50 Political power.
    Effects for 90 days:
    +0,5% weekly Stability

    -1% weekly War Support

    -0.5 Daily PP gain

  33. Not sure if somebody else already mentioned but its actually "Ploiesti" with an I after the O. Maybe you did it on purpose but I felt I had to point it out.

  34. Bulgaria tried it's best to stay neutral but then 100 000 nazis gathered on the Bulgarian- Romanian border and Germany backed the treaty of Craiova so it was kinda obliged to join the Axis

  35. The trials and tribulations of Italy and Mussolini never cease to amuse me.

    3:13 But that ramming story though. 😂🤣 Oh I never heard of that. "Pretty cool" is an understatement.

  36. It's insulting that even though i am subscribed to the channel new videos do not pop up in my Subscription-Area. I mean seriously YT?!
    (Hoping that turning the bell on will fix this?)

  37. Up until mid 1941 Italian Army campaigns due to lack of preperation in pretty much everything resulted in total shambles. They would be defeated in Greece , they were routed in Western Desert (Egypt-Libya) in December 1940 (which we shall see soon) and they lost East Africa totally in 1941. After mid 1941 summer Italian Army began to fight and perform much better although not in the level of Germans or Allies and, still woefully equipped they fought struggled and defended their sectors throughly and with determination (even if Italian weapons were low quality the bullets they shot still killed and wounded their adversaries) Especially their elite units like Folgore Parachute Division (the one which attacked British armor with molotov coctails. This Folgore parachute division was totally destroyed by British during Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942. British who captured remains of Folgore division , out of respect , let them keep their arms till reaching POW camps ) , Fruili Parachute Division (which fought and drove away German SS units in Corsica and Sardinia and then defected Allied side in September 1943) , Arierte Armored Division (again destroyed in Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942) or San Marino marine brigade were truly exceptional. However regular conscript Italian infantry division were not up to modern standarts both begining of war in 1940 and after one defeat after another and lack of weapons and material and by 1943 were pretty roughed up and destroyed. So Italian Army record and unit quality was mixed. There some elite divisions that fought and displayed great performance and mostly conscript infantry divisions mostly that lacked motorised vehicles , proper armor or weapons and equipment , lacked supplies and pretty much unmotivated and lacked of fighting spirit.

  38. Nothing happening in China? It's a rhetorical questions, since I had already finished reading Rana Mittel's book about that war and I know that you've missed a lot of action in the Far East. ;-P

  39. *Mussolini attacked Greece to SPITE Hitler for not telling him when Germany attacked Poland: as it may, Hitlers aid to Mussoline in 1940 delayed Hitler's Barbarossa, planned for June 1940. This gave Stalin time to prepare for Hitler in 1941….
    Moral of the story: Mussolini WON the war for the allies*

  40. [spoiler]
    Prasca will have an interesting 'rest of the war'. Arrested, condemned to death, then sent to prison instead, escapes and fights with the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *