The History of the 1st Greek Alpine Battalion
and the Khaki Depot impression 
Skiing was a privilege of the upper and the highest class of the prewar Greece, before it was introduced to the middle class in 1930-31 by the Greek Alpine Club - Elli̱nikós Oreivatikós Sýllogos (Greek-Ελληνικός Ορειβατικός Σύλλογος-ΕΟΣ) and its local branches in Greek towns. 


St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1939: Princess Alexandra of Greece (25 March 1921 – 30 January 1993, Queen of Yugoslavia as the wife of the last King of Yugoslavia), escorted by David Michael Mountbatten, 3rd Marquees of Milford Haven OBE, DSC. They are both shown wearing a mixture of hiking and skiing outfits.

Few days after the Italian invasion through the Greco-Albanian frontier(28th October 1940), the Greek Army High Command issued an order to set up the 1st Ski Battalion.
The Battalion personnel, were either volunteers, skiers from the "Σ.Ε.Ο.", already serving in other military units(Royal Hellenic Navy even or the Royal Hellenic Air Force), or were members of the Greek Alpine Club who volunteered too, with Alexandros Vouksinos (17 years old) its youngest member.
After the appeal, 130 experienced skiers(bringing their own skis, batons and ski boots) formed the 1st Coy. After a short period of military training at Metsovo, its men were sent to the front, at the highest point(2100 metres high) of Mount Kamia, Mní̱ma ti̱s Griás in Greek ("Μνήμα της Γριάς" - "Old Woman's Tomb").
The 2nd and the 3rd Coy, were formed from conscripts from five mountainous divisions. Each division sent 50 fusiliers for ski and alpine conditions training by 6 men from the 1st Coy.
Their equipment was donated by the ΕΟΣ and individuals. Artillery Major Ioannis Paparrodou, himself a cross-country skier champion, was appointed as C.O. of the Battalion.

 Peristeri, January 1941:
A team of the Greek Army 1st Alpine Battalion during mountain skiing training on Mount Barnous/Βαρνούς, known also by its highest peak named "Peristeri" (Greek for pigeon).
Peristeri is a mountain massif located in the prefecture of Florina (south of the town of Metsovo) that streches across the border in FYROM. It's maximum height within the Greek territory is top Despotiko or Kicevo (2.334 meters) at the Greek-FYROM frontier. It is the fifteenth highest mountain in Greece.

The cut of the special ski uniform of the Greek Army Alpine Battalion resembled the typical ones of its time. The jacket was cut shorter to provide extra comfort, while the trousers were cut in the Norwegian style(which likely refers to the tapering at the ankle).
  In order to fight the winter freezing weather conditions sufficiently, natural materials like wool, were of the greatest importance winter clothing manufacturing. Although at that time the tread recommended the use of gabardine or tricot to minimize the snow from sticking to the garment, the lack of those materials forced the Greek Army to produce ski uniforms from the standard 'khaki-green' wool fabric used then, that provided high moisture-resistance.Warm wool sweaters and underwear used to be a popular combination at the time.
  The biggest problem that the Greek Army in the Albanian mountains had to deal with, was the frostbite at the toes and heels. The men of the 1st Coy had no such problem, even though the men actually lived in the snow, because of the enhanced equipment, training and experience in alpine conditions.
Major Paparrodou’s plans for the immediate future were, until more experienced skiers were available, as well as a short period of ski-training, to introduce snow-boots for the 2nd and 3rd Coy's. No extensive special training was required for proper use of those boots, that provided better stability when carrying loads and weapons.

The men of the 1st Coy were equipped with sleeping bags and, instead of heavy military overcoats, with special made ski outfits and white covers for camouflage.

 The leather boots followed the standard design with square toe, double lacing and contoured heel for the attachments. Some specimens come with additional buckles attached. Skiers wore various models of France made mod. 1926-28, German-Skischuhe and Italian mod.1937 ski boots.
The soles were made of rubber while some (those of German origin) of wood.

Ioannis Paparrodou (Greek: Ιωάννης Παπαρρόδου, 1904–1941) was born in central Greek town of Lamia in 1904.He was a Greek Army Regular Officer that graduated from the (Army) Evelpidon Military Academy as a Second Lieutenant of the Artillery in 1923.
 Shown here in the officer version of the innovative ski uniform of the Greek Alpine Battalion.
Image courtesy of Nikos Panos https://www.behance.net/NikosPanos 

Paparrodou was also a winter sports athlete and champion at the Panhellenic Games of 1935. An Artillery Major by the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War in October 28, 1940, and the successful penetration of the counterattacking Greek Army deep into the Albanian territory, he commanded the 21st Mountain Artillery Company positioned in Pogradec, southern Albania. Because of his previous experience in winter sports, Paparrodou was appointed commander of the first Alpine Battalion of the Greek Army. In April 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked Greece through the Greek-Bulgarian frontier, Paparrodou was ordered to defend strategic positions at the Kleisoura pass, near Kastoria, Western Macedonia. At the battle that followed, he resisted against the vastly superior German forces and died fighting on April 13.
 The Khaki Depot impression of the 1st Greek Alpine Battalion special uniform.

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