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Harling Mission 1942

[...] One reason why everyone's recollection of a battle is different is that no battle ever goes exactly according to plan. So everyone has to be ready to improvise when the unexpected happens. This was certainly the case at the Gorgopotamos bridge. And unforeseeable luck, too, plays a part: no guerrilla operation ever succeded without luck. No one involved in the planning of the operation could have foreseen that the attack at the North end of the bridge would prove much more difficult than at the South end. So it was by pure luck, contrary to the original intention, that we had our small reserve on the North side of the river rather than the South side; for it would have been impossible for the reserve force to cross the river in time to play an effective role if things had turned out the other way round.

These are some of the reasons why it has never been easy to write a definitive account of exactly what happened during the historic night of the attack on the bridge. New recollections continue to come to light which modify the details here and there. But now that almost fifty years have passed since the battle, it is unlikely that any new data will affect the main outline. So a new and detailed account of the operation is timely.

Themistocles Marinos was one of the first twelve parachutists who were dropped in the Greek mountains to organise the attack on the bridge. His account describes the personalities, the motives, the frustrations, the plans, the delays, the mistakes, the lucky and unlucky chances, and the final success of the operation. It is particularly valuable that he has compared and critically examined all the published recollections by the chief participants, uncovering their common core of accuracy and discarding what can only be described as myths. All of it is done with admirable objectivity and with a gripping sense of the unforgettable excitement at the time, whether he is writing of his own role or that of others.

This story of Operation Hading is probably as near to being complete and conclusive as any that we are likely to see.

(από την εισαγωγή του C. M. Woodhouse)

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