Invasion of the Balkans - WW2 Timeline (October 28th, 1940 - June 1st, 1941)


After Italy failed in its mission in the Balkans, Hitler and his German war machine moved in to put Yugoslavia and Greece in their place within the new world order.

Italy utilized tens of thousands of soldiers in an attempt to take Greece, a move that proved initially successful but faltered against a dedicated resistance movement coupled with air support provided by the Royal Air Force. This sent the 70,000-strong Italian Army invasion force packing. Yugoslavia's Prince Paul signed a deal with the Axis but was overthrown from power by his own people several days later. Hitler enacted a plan - Operation Marita - to invade both Greece and Yugoslavia simultaneously in response to the events.

The invasion was handled in classic early-war German fashion, utilizing coordinated airborne elements with a fast-moving ground contigent. Constant bombardment of the Yugoslav capital cost countless of civilian lives. The Greek defenses began to falter and the Allies (a combined force of British, Australian, and New Zealand troops) were now in retreat. After the Yugoslav government and its army officially surrendered to the Germans, nothing stood between Germany and the conquer of Greece. The Allies were ultimately forced to evacuate through a passage in the south of Greece while Italian and German forces took Athens proper and, eventually, all of Greece.

The Axis invasion of the Balkans was now complete.

There are a total of (19) Invasion of the Balkans - WW2 Timeline (October 28th, 1940 - June 1st, 1941) events in the SecondWorldWarHistory.com database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.


Day-by-Day Timeline of Events


Monday, October 28th, 1940

An Italian force of 70,000 soldiers invades Greece.

Sunday, November 10th, 1940

The Italian invasion force is in full retreat, repelled by a combined Greek resistance and RAF effort after just two weeks.

Tuesday, March 25th, 1941

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia offers his allegiance to the Axis, signing the Tripartite Pact.

Thursday, March 27th, 1941

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia is forceably removed from power via a coup led by Bora Mirkovic and Dusan Simovic. Simovic is installed as the new ruler of Yugoslavia and quickly makes an effort to break Yugoslavia's commitment to the Tripartite Pact with the Axis.

Wednesday, March 26th, 1941

In Berlin, Hitler reportedly tells his high level officers "I have decided to destroy Yugoslavia".

Sunday, April 6th, 1941

Operation Marita - the dual Germany invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia - is put into action. Twenty-four total divisions are involved, including some 1200 tanks.

Tuesday, April 8th, 1941

A massive German bombing raid on the Yugoslavian capital city of Belgrade nets over 300,000 civilian casualties.

Wednesday, April 9th, 1941

The German 12th Army encircles and defeats the Greek defensive line known as the "Metaxas Line".

Wednesday, April 9th, 1941

The German Army moves on and captures the strategic port city of Salonika.

Thursday, April 10th - April 16th, 1941

Three divisions of British, Australian and New Zealand troops at the Aliakmon Line in the Vermion Mountains are defeated.

Saturday, April 12th, 1941

Vermion Line Allied troops are now redeployed to defensive positions around Mount Olympus.

Saturday, April 12th, 1941

German forces launching from Romania, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria along with an Italian contigent from Albania capture and secure the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade.



Monday, April 14th, 1941

The German Army destroys Yugoslavian forces at Monistar Gap, clearing a path into Greece. Greece units fighting in Albania are effectively cut off.

Wednesday, April 16th, 1941

Allied forces in Greece are in full retreat at the request of Greek General Alexander Papagos who sees value is less fighting to save his country from total destruction. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill accepts the request.

Thursday, April 17th, 1941

Yugoslavian leadership, along with the army, surrenders to the Germans.

Sunday, April 20th, 1941

The Greek Army surrenders to the Germans and Italians.

Saturday, April 26th, 1941

German airborne elements attempt to capture the bridge over the Corinth Canal in an attempt to encircle the retreating allies. The bridge is lost in the attack while the Allies have already moved on.

Sunday, April 27th - April 30th, 1941

Operation Demon is activated, covering the evacuation of some 51,000 Allied troops from southern Greece via the Royal Navy.

Sunday, April 27th, 1941

Axis forces officially occupy Athens, effectively signaling the end of Greek resistance.



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