20th Armoured Division (Greece)

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20th Armoured Division
XX Τεθωρακισμένη Μεραρχία
20th Armoured Division Emblem Greece.jpg
Emblem of the 20th Armoured Division
Active 1956–today
Country Greece
Branch Hellenic Army
Type Armour
Size 3 Brigades
Part of IV Army Corps
Garrison/HQ Kavala, Macedonia
Motto In The Shade
Ypo Skii

The 20th Armoured Division (Greek: XX Τεθωρακισμένη Μεραρχία, XX ΤΘΜ, Eikosti Tethorakismeni Merarchia), is the only armoured division of the Hellenic Army. It is headquartered in Kavala, Macedonia.


The Hellenic Army's first attempt to form an armoured/mechanized division was the 19th Mechanized Division in early 1941, which was destroyed during the German invasion of Greece.[1] These efforts were resumed after Liberation, with mechanized units being established in 1945 and fighting in the Greek Civil War of 1946–49. The same period saw also the arrival of the first true tanks in Greece, the British Centaur tanks, which only began to be employed in 1947.[2] From 1950 on, the Hellenic Army began receiving M24 Chaffee tanks and M18 Hellcat tank destroyers.[3]

In 1954, 9th Infantry Division was converted into an armoured division, comprising two Battle Commands (Διοικήσεις Μάχης, ΔΜΑ). Due to the severe lack of tanks and other armoured vehicles, the division was armoured in name only. In 1956 the 9th Armoured Division was converted into the 20th Armoured Division began being formed in 1954, which was gradually formed over the next four years.[3] With the arrival of the first M47 Patton tanks in 1957, the first Medium Tank Battalions (Επιλαρχίες Μέσων Αρμάτων, ΕΜΑ) of 55 tanks each, were formed.[3]

From 1964, the division began receiving the first M48 Patton tanks and M113 armoured personnel carriers, which began replacing older material.[4] By 1971, sufficient numbers of M48 tanks had arrived so that three new Medium Tank Battalions, 24th, 25th, and 26th, so that each Battle Command comprised two Medium Tank Battalions.[5] In 1977–79, the Battle Commands were formed into independent Armoured Brigades, with 3rd Battle Command forming the 23rd Armoured Brigade, 1st Battle Command forming the 24th Armoured Brigade, and 2nd Battle Command forming the 25th Armoured Brigade. 20th Division remained as an operational headquarters coordinating the latter two brigades. In 1985, 25th Armoured Brigade passed directly under IV Army Corps, and was replaced by 22nd Armoured Brigade.[6]

Structure (1960)[edit]

The division completed its formation in 1960, comprising the following units:[4]

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company
  • 1st Battle Command (1η ∆ΜΑ)
    • 23rd Medium Tank Battalion (23 ΕΜΑ)
    • 646th Armoured Infantry Battalion (646 ΤΤΠ)
  • 2nd Battle Command (2η ∆ΜΑ)
    • 22nd Medium Tank Battalion (22 ΕΜΑ)
    • 645th Armoured Infantry Battalion (645 ΤΤΠ)
  • 3rd Battle Command (3η ∆ΜΑ)
    • 21st Medium Tank Battalion (21 ΕΜΑ)
    • 644th Armoured Infantry Battalion (644 ΤΤΠ)
  • Artillery Command/20th Armoured Division (∆ΠΒ/ΧΧ ΤΘΜ)
    • 137th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion (137 ΤΜΠΠ)
    • 138th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion (138 ΤΜΠΠ)
    • 139th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion (139 ΤΜΠΠ)
    • 190th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion (190 ΤΜΠΠ)
  • Support Command/20th Armoured Division (∆∆Μ/ΧΧ ΤΘΜ)
  • 25th Reconnaissance Battalion (25 ΕΑΝ)
  • 720th Armoured Engineers Battalion (720 ΤΤΜΧ)
  • 478th Armoured Communications Battalion (478 ΤΤ∆Β)
  • 203rd Medical Battalion (203 ΤΥΓ)
  • 965th Hellenic Military Police Company (965 ΛΕΣΑ)
  • 20th Army Aviation Company (20 ΛΑΣ)

Structure (2012)[edit]

Locations of 20th Armoured Division units
Structure of the 20th Armoured Division
  • Division HQ Company (ΙΣ/ΧΧ ΤΘΜ)
  • 20th Signal Company (20ο ΛΔΒ)
  • 955th Military Police Company
  • Division Artillery Command (ΔΠΒ/ΧΧ ΤΘΜ)
  • 21st Armoured Brigade Emblem Greece.jpg 21st Armoured Brigade, based at Komotini, Thrace
    • HQ Company (ΙΣ/ΧΧΙ ΤΘΤ)
    • 211 Medium Tank Battalion (211η EMA)
    • 212 Medium Tank Battalion (212η EMA)
    • 646th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (646ο M/K ΤΠ)
    • 140th Self Propelled Artillery Battalion (140η Μ Α/K ΠΒ)
    • 21st Engineer Company (21 ΛΜΧ)
    • 21st Signal Company (21 ΛΔΒ)
    • 21st Support Battalion (21 TYΠ)
  • 23rd Armoured Brigade Emblem Greece.jpg 23rd Armoured Brigade, based at Alexandroupoli, Thrace
    • HQ Company (ΙΣ/ΧΧΙΙΙ ΤΘΤ)
    • 21st Medium Tank Battalion (21η EMA)
    • 24th Medium Tank Battalion (24η EMA)
    • 644th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (644ο M/K ΤΠ)
    • 138th Self Propelled Artillery Battalion (138η Μ Α/K ΠΒ)
    • 23rd Engineer Company (23ος ΛΜΧ)
    • 23rd Signal Company (23ος ΛΔΒ)
    • 23rd Support Battalion (23ο TYΠ)
  • 25th Armoured Brigade Emblem Greece.jpg 25th Armoured Brigade, based at Xanthi, Thrace
    • HQ Company (ΙΣ/ΧΧV ΤΘΤ)
    • 22nd Medium Tank Battalion (22η EMA)
    • 25th Medium Tank Battalion (25η EMA)
    • 645th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (645ο M/K ΤΠ)
    • 139th Self Propelled Artillery Battalion (139η Μ Α/K ΠΒ)
    • 25th Engineer Company (25ος ΛΜΧ)
    • 25th Signal Company (25ος ΛΔΒ)
    • 25th Support Battalion (25ο TYΠ)

Emblem and motto[edit]

The emblem depicts a Centaur ready to fire an arrow. The body of the horse symbolizes strength and aggressiveness of armor/cavalry, and the human body symbolizes the soldier who controls the vehicle and directs the weapon.

The motto of the 20th Armored Division is "In The Shade" (Greek: Υπό σκιή, Ypo Skii). The phrase is attributed to the Spartan soldier Dienekes, who on the eve of the Battle of Thermopylae, was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that their arrows would block out the sun. Dienekes replied with a laugh, "Good. Then we will fight in the shade."



  • Hellenic Army General Staff, Training Directorate/3a (March 1995). Ιστορία Ιππικού - Τεθωρακισμένων [History of the Cavalry–Armour]. Athens: Hellenic Army Printing Office.