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Hellenic Army Impression (Greek)

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Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 105
Location: Luton (UK)

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:50 pm    Post subject: Hellenic Army Impression (Greek) Reply with quote

Hey there guys.

So I've currently become rather interested in the Hellenic army and have been doing alot of research these past few days to establish what uniform's they wore ect with an interest of possibly doing it in the future.

I came across a bit of a stumbling block within a matter of minutes in my research. At the start of the war the Greeks were in the process of changing their uniform. So they're regular army was equipped with two uniforms (the old and the new). Then when they conscripted in a load of men for the Battle of Greece they then used alot of British imported uniforms plus whatever other old uniforms had been left lying around. What happened was that the Greeks then had at least 4 uniforms for their fighting! And even within those uniforms there were disparities (they often had olive green and khaki mixed up).

But one thing kept jumping out at me constantly - 1908 uniform. This then got something started in my mind, where have I heard that before? Then it hit me. I picked up my SOF catalogue on my desk and flicked through it and, sure enough, there it was. 1908 was the uniform issued to the British forces during WW1. So I then went online and flicked through loads of Greek photo's and, sure enough, the uniform was pretty much identical! The only issue was the colouring, because as I mentioned the Greeks were more famous for there olive green colouring then their khaki. But in this bunch of pictures I found a rare colour picture of some Greeks surrendering and, too my surprise, they were all in khaki. Did a bit more research and, sure enough, some Greeks did fight in khaki. Of course the colour isn't too much of issue, a bit of dye can always solve that problem but I would rather not do it myself for obvious reasons. lol. But this has been confirmed by other re-enactors so is certainly the way to go. It covers the tunic, trousers, puttee's and boots!

The only things that were different were the webbing/equipment and the headgear.

The headgear was rather simple. The Greeks had a side cap/forage cap and im sure through more research I can find it just what it is (though I wouldn't be surprised if a brit one was sufficient). The helmet's were also simple as they wore two types in numbers - their own version of the Italian helmet and the MkII. The MkII is easy enough to get hold of. The Greek helmet, my preference, isn't actually that difficult to get. (I saw one on ebay today going for £30!) And anyways, an Italian helmet would be sufficient for the short-term.

The webbing is currently my biggest headache. From what I can tell of the front bit it is almost identical to the German styled webbing, only difference is the German one was black, the Greek's was brown. But then I did see images of the French with something identical (in colour as well) and it is possible the Greek's adopted the French webbing as, apparently they were trained by the French after WW1 (and this is why their rank structure is a bit weird/french apparently). I have seen an image of the marching order of a Greek webbing kit but that just blew my mind so will take a bit more research to sort out. But a battle order is sufficient for the short-term anyway.

The only other issue is the great coat. This was always olive green. But there is probably a way around this, given more research. But as most events would be during summer, a great coat is the least of my worries. lol.

I have currently ordered Andrew Mollo's Armed Forces of WW2 book (highly acclaimed, especially for their Greek uniform information) and so I hope to gain some more information from them. But for two days hard research, I am rather chuffed with what I have achieved already. it's been a struggle, but not as much as I feared. Just got those little bits to sort out but I think, when I do decide to make it, I will do it alot more slower than with my brit kit. Would rather do it slowly and get it right then spend loads and look wrong. And in the reenactment world something different is always supported, especially when you've had little to go on!

So hope it's been of some interest. Oh and feel free to move it to be a better board if needs be. lol.


Just to show you, this is the short of thing it should look like:

This one has the Greek helmet.

This was the image that made me realise they wore the 1908 WW1 Brit kit.

A good photo which shows the use of the Greek helmet and the MkII.

Sarge: We'll join the fight after the three booms.
Private: Boom, boom, boom.
Me: Does that mean now?
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Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 105
Location: Luton (UK)

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys.

So I thought I'd better do an update on my Hellenic impression.

I have had it confirmed that the 1908 uniform does work, however I need to take off an 'extra layer' need the shoulder (not very obvious on a screen) that only the British had. Reasons - unknown. I also need to sew some red collar tabs on, but nothing strenuous (red denoted infantry). As to the colouring, another person on wwiireenacting.com has informed me that olive green was the standard (although I already knew this). He plans to do some cold dying which is an option. However, I relocated that photo of the khaki uniforms. It is possibly slightly browner than the British khaki, but it's hard to tell whether that is dirt or the colouring - most likely it is the colouring. But with future finances, I could possibly get that dyed professionally. here is the photo:

Haven't really been looking for it in all honesty. Bottom of my list. But I have been told that a British one does work, so will look into that.

Finally sorted this issue. No surprise, the Greeks used a range. Apparently they had their own webbing, but this is hard to nail down. However, it was confirmed that the French WW1 webbing does work! However luckily for me the Greek webbing was very simple, well battle order anyway. A belt, two ammo pouches (possibly 4 cos they did have two at the back) and (more often than not) a bayonet. Rather cheap webbing. I was informed Bulgaria is the best place to get the stuff and luckily for me I have located a good dealer on ebay. He actually has some Manlicher ammo pouches, the manlicher was the rifle used by the Greeks. £20 each (left and right) plus a belt for another £20 all in one postage. £76 overall, not too bad. Possibly slightly pricey, but it is original and it is hard to locate this stuff. The belt is German but identical to what they wore, brown not black thankfully. The left pouch is below, the right one was being seld separately but is being combined. Luckily for me, there is loads of manlicher bayonets and frogs about, so that should be simple to get hold of.



Bit of a mix here. So will split it up.

Helmet - Ever since that Greek helmet went on ebay I realised I should have bid for it - no where sells it! Very rare! Luckily the Italian is almost identical. I can clearly notice the differences, but quite alot of military experts can't so that is fine with me. The Italian helmets are plentiful and cheap. Same Bulgarian trader - £12-£15! (ignoring postage, lol). Can still use the British Mk II but as it's more expensive and could get me confused as WW1, why bother?

Side cap - Going to stick with the British. Looks the same. Might need to make my own hole for the cap badge, but nothing difficult.

Cap badge - This is the hardest thing in the world to find! The one stumbling block of the whole uniform. The Greeks had no other insignia than this and this is impossible to find. I have seen a few that were sold on ebay (you know, the history of stuff sold and all that) but other than that nothing. Have spoken to people that produce cap badges and they've told me, sorry, look out for it on ebay. Fat chance! May contact my Bulgarian friend and see what he can do (apparently they can get alot of Greek kit) but stand a small chance of getting it. Which is a real bummer. If anyone knows anyone who could produce this for me, let me know! Would be very, very grateful. Below is an image of it.

That, in essence, is my basic kit list. I am about to order the webbing (hopefully) so I will already be starting on my impression. The cap badge is the only thing that will ruin it and I do sure hope I can get hold of it somewhere.

The only other small thing now giving me a headache is the flag that I could use on a display. because Greece at the time was the Kingdom of Greece, the flag was different. And, surprise, surprise, no where produces it before. I have gone to private dealers who do custom flags but I'm being charged £60! Admittedly the crown in the middle makes it a little bit more complicated but still, that is extortionate! If anyone knows someone who could do it cheaper, again I would be very grateful! Image below.

Hope you guys have enjoyed my little project so far. Feel free to ask questions or engage in other ways. Advice is also very helpful! Feel free to also ask about the Greek campaign, it was very interesting. My favourite part was about how the Germans were so surprised by the Greek resistance. Because remember, they were under-equipped compared to the Italians let alone the Germans! However they resisted the Germans fiercely for 3 days on the Metaxas line before surrendering because Thessalonika (behind them) had been taken. But some still fought on. The Germans said it was the toughest resistance they had ever met and they were so shocked by it they (and this is true) took no prisoners. They allowed the Greeks to march out with their colours flying and go home, provided they handed in their weapons, whilst being given a salute. Now if the Germans saw them as tough, they must have been!

Anyways, like I said feel free to ask questions and I will probably bring a next installment soon.

Sarge: We'll join the fight after the three booms.
Private: Boom, boom, boom.
Me: Does that mean now?
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Joined: 23 Aug 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Toronto Canada

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Hellenic Army Impression (Greek) Reply with quote

I realize this is a old post but ...

Joe wrote:
What happened was that the Greeks then had at least 4 uniforms for their fighting! And even within those uniforms there were disparities (they often had olive green and khaki mixed up).

One problem with the Italian Campaign was that the Greek Army expanded itself several times during the fighting, initially at 35,000 men in the North, during the "Decade of War" it went up to 125,000 and with the expansion of volunteers ended up totalling 300,000 men to face the Italian's 565,000 men.

So the massive expansion, which was helped due to the fact that Greece from 1912 to 1922 had a Decade of War, which many (including several of my great grandparents generation, such as my great grandfather) who had been discharged had their uniform and equipment at home, so when they went to fight there was no need to give them the "current" equipment.

Combined with the number of non-veteran volunteers many of whom were not issued any uniforms (such as my grandmother's older brother) due to equipment shortages, its a wonder that you only found 4 uniforms! Laughing

Same with weapons, while the Mannlicher-Schönauer was issued starting in 1909, during the decade of war, and the Italian campaign as many as 5 different rifles all saw service. Greece then just like during the war of Independence and in the rest of the 19th century, was a country of opportunity. Even today, the Hellenic Army (not Special Forces) at various levels still use the FN FAL, HK G3 and the M16/M4 series of firearms. Surprised

Basically do what ever feels comfortable based on your pictures, and more then likely they'll be at least one Greek who fought with similar equipment. Regardless of how "correct" it appears to be in the pictures. Laughing

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