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The Breach of the Greek Front Line at Afyon 1922
The 14th August brought the final blow and the Greek front line was breached. Kemal’s plan was to strike between the river Tsai and Bonnar, the most vulnerable point in the front line. The Greek side put all forces of the 7th Division into action at the breach so the plan to counter-attack was cancelled. The 7th Division commanding officer took over from the 5th Infantry who had fled. The 1st and 7th divisions were barely holding the line.
Losses increased. The Turkish cavalry pounded the 1st Division from the south. Frangou ordered a strong counter-attack as instructed, but the 2nd Division was tackling Turkish cavalry north of the railway line. The counter-attack at Savran never got underway and at Hasan Bel it was feeble. Only two regiments of reinforcements arrived during the night. While the Turks threw all their reserves into the battle and their cavalry still kept coming through Tsai Hisar pass, the Greek 2nd & 3rd Corps waited for orders from Izmir. The attack at the east of Kiri Bel sent 2 battalions from the 22nd and 1 from the 49th into retreat. The western section held out until 09.00. Some 24 Turk bns attack the 5/4( single battalion!). The enemy had already reached Sinirkii Gorge and the 37th’s counter-attack collapsed under Turkish artillery fire. At 11.30 Kitriniari railway station fell, this cut off many Greek units and their supply line. Tilki Bel finally fell at 13.00 and the disorderly retreat spread to the 4th & 49th Infantry at Kayiandibi and Kilitz Arslan. Sections of 23rd followed suit. The whole left flank of 1st Division had been breached by 13.00 and, in spite of Frangou’s efforts, the retreat was unstoppable (which would become a greek rout). In one section, some 500-700 men attack across barb wire defended by 150 men. Only 50 men survive.
At Hasan Bel the 5th Infantry fought on but further east the 4th Division had retreated. At 06.00 Prionidis hill fell and the 35th Infantry withdrew 600 metres, leaving two openings for the Turks to reach Afyon. At 07.00 Karasi fell and P1/35 retreated. The Turks advanced towards Moutatibi Dag and the breach widened. Plastiras’ detachment at Katsibali station and hill 1.310 were now pounded from both sides. Kemelar at the 4th Division’s right flank was in flames. At 08.00 hill 1.310 fell and double company Kokkino and 3/42 company were forced to retreat. Plastiras stepped in and gave an impossible order that the hill be retaken. Tertika Battalion attacked with extremely heavy losses. III bn/42 Reg. and I bn/42 were forced to retreat. The 11th Infantry at Kislatzik and the 8th at Seylen suffered tremendous losses. But for action taken by the 26th Infantry, the town of Afyon would have fallen in the morning, with disastrous consequences. While the Greeks were still holding the town of Afyon, many of the arteries of lines of communication and supply were cut. This put the Greek units in the city in a most precarious position, one that would only be a matter of time until either they would become cut-off or be forced to retreat.