This was a Free Greek operation by resistance forces associated with the democratic cause to harass the retreat of German forces from Greece (September 1944).
Under the control of Generaloberst Alexander Löhr’s Heeresgruppe ‘F’, these forces amounted to 345,000 Germans in the form of 300,000 army troops constituting four corps with 10 divisions (seven of them on the mainland, and the other three on Greek islands together with six fortress brigades), 33,000 sailors (most of them manning coastal artillery batteries), and 12,000 airmen and Flak gunners. Of these four corps, General Hellmuth Felmy’s LXVIII Corps was in southern Greece, General Hubert Lanz’s XXII Gebirgskorps in Epiros, General Ernst von Leyser’s XXI Gebirgskorps in Albania, and General Werner von Erdmannsdorff’s XIC Corps in Thessaly. Most of the XXI Gebirgskorps moved out via Scutari and Cattaro to the north against opposition from Albanian partisan forces, while the other three corps had to move through the bottleneck at Skopje in southern Yugoslavia, all the formations being heavily engaged by Greek guerrillas in northern Greece, and the XXII Gebirgskorps suffering heavily as it fell back from Ioánnina.
Planned under British supervision, ‘Noah’s Ark’ (ii) was schemed and undertaken as the guerrilla complement to the British ‘Manna’ (i) conventional military operation in southern Greece.