Who's Who - Joannis Metaxas

Joannis Metaxas (1871-1941) was King Constantine's army Deputy Chief of Staff in 1914, and agitated from the first for a formal alliance with the Central Powers, with his resolutely pro-German stance earning him favour (and influence) at court.

Metaxas was commissioned into the Greek army in 1890 and spent time studying at Berlin's Military Academy prior to service during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.

With the First World War underway active moves towards his long-desired alliance with Germany were necessarily delayed however until the fall of pro-Allied Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos in September 1915.

From this date onwards however Metaxas served as Constantine's liaison with Germany and Austria-Hungary until growing Allied suspicion of Greece's supposed neutrality, together with the threat of an Allied invasion, forced the demobilisation of the Greek army.

Metaxas was himself subsequently despatched to serve in the decided backwater of a training post in 1916, although he subsequently played a key role in the formation of pro-royal paramilitary groups in Macedonia.  Such groups were subsequently deployed to great effect in resisting the Allied Athens landings in December 1916, launched in the wake of continuing frustration at the King's pro-Central Powers stance.

With the King's subsequent abdication in June 1917 (forced by the Allies upon threat of naval invasion) Metaxas was sent into exile in Corsica, and saw out the remainder of the war in passivity.

His post-war career was far more successful however, as Metaxas distinguished himself as a prominent right-wing figure.  He returned with Constantine in 1920 and, in 1936, established power with a military dictatorship (ostensibly to avoid the greater evil of a Communist regime).

He died on 29 January 1941 shortly before the Germans could assist the Italians in their invasion of Greece.

"Coffin Nails" was a term used by British soldiers to describe cigarettes.

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