Taken on January 31, 1941 in the thick of winter high up in the Pindus Mountains of Epirus, the photo above shows Greek peasant women lined up with shovels to clear a snow-bound road for advancing Greek troops who were pushing back Italian invaders.
The women pictured came from numerous villages in the region and appeared in dozens of U.S. newspapers after the Associated Press circulated the above wire image.
The Italians had invaded Greece on October 28, 1940 and dictator Benito Mussolini had given Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas a grim ultimatum to surrender or fight for survival.
After Metaxas’ iconic “Oxi” (no) response, Greece’s involvement in World War II began and the country’s women played a vital role in the effort.
An article titled “Those Greek Women” published on December 19, 1940 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised Greek women’s contributions to the resistance against Mussolini.
“Today we read about Greek women, their faces wrapped in shawls, clearing the mountain passes with big snow shovels, so the Greek infantry can pursue the Italians. Again, when every man was needed for fighting, Greek women have brought supplies and ammunition up the mountain sides – 80-pound packs on their backs up 3,000-foot peaks.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 19, 1940
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