Branch Hellenic Army
Type Mechanized Infantry
Part of IV Army Corps
The 16th Mechanized Infantry Division "Didymoteicho" (Greek: XVI Μηχανοκίνητη Μεραρχία Πεζικού «ΔΙΔΥΜΟΤΕΙΧΟ»; XVI Michanokíniti Merarchía Pezikoú "Didymóteicho") is a mechanized infantry division of the Hellenic Army.
World War I
The 16th Infantry Division was formed for the first time in late 1915 or early 1916, following the Greek mobilization on 10 September 1915, in response to the mobilization of Bulgaria. It comprised the 46th, 47th, and 48th Infantry Regiments, and was part of the V Army Corps. In June 1916, it was transferred to Northern Epirus, with headquarters at Argyrokastron and the regiments based at Korytsa, Argyrokastron, and Premeti respectively. The division was withdrawn south following the Italian occupation of the area in autumn 1916. In April 1917, along with the rest of the Hellenic Army still loyal to the royal government in Athens, it was withdrawn to the Peloponnese at the insistence of the Entente powers. Its final base was at Pyrgos, Elis, where it was disbanded shortly after.
World War II
At the commencement of the Greco-Italian War in October 1940, it was reactivated in Lamia as a brigade but was quickly expanded to a division-strength by the end of the year and placed under the command of the Western Macedonia Army Section (III Army Corps). The 16th Division took part in operations against Italian forces throughout the campaign, capturing Hill 601 near Tseritsa on 10 February 1941, holding the line against repeated Italian attacks in the Tomoritsa Sector, and capturing Teke Hill on 31 March 1941 by bayonet charge. The division was disbanded in Agrinio, for a second time, in May 1941, after the German invasion of Greece.
In 1965, the 99th Military Command (Greek: 99 Στρατιωτική Διοίκηση, 99 ΣΔΙ; 99 Stratiotikí Deíkisi, 99 SDI) was formed in the town of Didymoteicho. It was expanded and renamed in 1975 to the 16th Infantry Division (Greek: XVI Μεραρχία Πεζικού, XVI ΜΠ; XVI Merarkhía Pezikoú, XVI MP). The division was reorganized in 2009 as a mechanized infantry division and given the title of "Didymoteicho" to honor its long association with the garrison town.
Emblem and motto
The emblem of the 16th Mechanized Infantry Division is the double-headed eagle of the Byzantine Empire, standing guard on the walls of Constantinople.
The division's motto is "We Shall All Die Willingly" (Greek: πᾶντες αὐτοπροαιρέτως ἀποθανοῦμεν; pántes autoproairétos apothanoúmen). The phrase is attributed to Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last reigning Byzantine Emperor. According to the historian Doukas, before the beginning of the siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II made an offer to Constantine XI. In exchange for the surrender of Constantinople, the emperor's life would be spared and he would continue to rule in Mistra. Constantine answered, "To surrender the city to you is neither my right, nor any of its inhabitants, because it is our decision that, in its defence, we shall all die willingly and we shall not lament our death" (Greek: Το δέ τήν πόλιν σοί δοῦναι οὔτ' ἐμόν ἐστί οὔτ' ἄλλου τῶν κατοικούντων ἐν ταύτῃ· κοινή γάρ γνώμη πᾶντες αὐτοπροαιρέτως ἀποθανοῦμεν καί οὐ φεισόμεθα τῆς ζωῆς ἡμῶν).