We just returned from a trip to northern Greece with a bunch of our neighbors. It included a stop at the Roupel Fortress (on the Metaxis Line), where some 900 Greek troops held 6,500 Germans with Luftwaffe support at bay for four days. One of the young Greek Army soldiers who are part of the border guards and visitor guide detachment spoke English, so we were able to have a nice chat, in addition to the truly excellent presentation by his colleague, which was in Greek, and thus only partially understandable.
Talk about dominant terrain!
The battle is the stuff from which legend is born. The Greek defenders acquitted themselves so well that German General List took two very unusual actions. First, when the garrison fell, he directed that the Greek soldiers be afforded full military courtesy, to include an order that Germans render a proper salute to any Greek of higher rank that they encountered. Second, List did not take any Greeks into captivity, but had them leave their weapons in place and allowed them to safely "rejoin their compatriots" in the city of Serres. None of List's records or reports used the terms "defeat", "surrender" or "retreat" in reference to the Greek Army.
Local legend interprets this photo as a German Brigade Commander initiating a salute to the Greek Garrison Commander.
We were able to walk through some of the underground facilities. One advantage the Greeks held was that since virtually all of the facilities were underground, German intel was unable to make an estimate of the Greek force defending Roupel Pass. The resistance was so fierce, the Germans over estimated the Greek force by a few orders of magnitude. It was a complete underground base, with only gun ports fighting positions above ground. The "tunnels" have survived quite well since then, attesting to the quality of the construction. Amazing to see the equivalent of a fully underground base.
The English speaking soldier said that he enjoyed the assignment. Roupel is in the middle of nowhere, overlooking the Bulgarian border. He alternated between "honor guard" duty for visitors and "border guard". Much of the border protection (primarily to prevent illegal immigration) facilities still use the Metaxis Line positions, so he said he spends every duty day "walking in military history".