The story of William John Breed, a British soldier in Greece during WW2: “I fell asleep in a foxhole one night and woke up the next day behind enemy lines”

WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos and information provided by Daniel Breed to and used by permission

Operation “Marita”, the German invasion of Greece, initiated on April 6, 1941, swiftly developed in a chaotic situation for the British Expeditionary Force.


The Germans advanced at such a pace, that the few and intermittent stands of the Allies, did little to stop the German onslaught and by the end of April, the Battle for mainland Greece was over, with the Battle of Crete brewing, until the airborne assault, codenamed “Operation Mercury”, started on May 20, 1941.


One of the British soldiers who fought in Greece was William John Breed.


His grandson, Daniel Breed, shared with, photos and recollections of his grandfather’s time in Greece, which vividly relive, over 80 years later, the dramatic events of 1941.


Typical of men who fought on the front lines and saw much, is the fact that they did not want to speak about the war.

“My grandfather said he fell asleep in a foxhole one night and woke up the next day behind enemy lines.

The Germans thought he was dead and went past him.

That’s the only thing my granddad ever told my father about the war”

William John Breed returned to Greece in 1946. He was born in 1914 and died in 1990. He lived in Godmanchester and Huntingdon Cambridgeshire, England.


We, at honour the memory of these brave men, like William John Breed, who fought a hopeless war against superior enemy forces in 1941.