The Hellenic Gendarmerie (Greek: Ελληνική Χωροφυλακή, Elliniki Chorofylaki) was the national gendarmerie and military police (until 1951) force of Greece.

Hellenic Gendarmerie
Ελληνική Χωροφυλακή
Emblem of Hellenic Gendarmerie, 1969–1984
Emblem of Hellenic Gendarmerie, 1969–1984
War flag of the Hellenic Gendarmerie, 1951–1984
War flag of the Hellenic Gendarmerie, 1951–1984
Agency overview
Superseding agencyHellenic Police
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionGreece
General nature
Operational structure
Parent agencyMinistry of Public Order
  • St Irene's feast day (Annually, 5 May)
  • Commemoration of the fallen in the Battle of Athens (Annually, 6 December)



19th century

Gendarmes in Chalcis in 1835.

The Greek Gendarmerie was established after the enthronement of King Otto in 1833 as the Royal Gendarmerie (Greek: Βασιλική Χωροφυλακή) and modeled after the French National Gendarmerie. It was at that time formally part of the army and under the authority of the Army Ministry. Several foreign advisers (particularly from Bavaria, who emphasized elements of centralization and authoritarianism), were also brought in to provide training and tactical advice to the newly formed force. The main task of the Gendarmerie under the army as a whole during this period was firstly to combat the extensive banditry which was endemic in the countryside throughout the 19th century and included kidnappings for ransom, the suppression of local revolts, and the establishment of a strong executive government. Dimitrios Deligeorgis was appointed commander in 1854.

The army's links to the Gendarmerie and the nature of the structure of the force and its hierarchy (that of being similar to the army) was maintained throughout the 19th century for a number of reasons, primarily the socio-political unrest that characterized the period including disproportionate poverty, governmental oppression, sporadic rebellions and political instability. As a result of this, as well as the input of the armed forces, the Gendarmerie remained a largely conservative body throughout the period, there was also a certain amount of politicization during training as the Gendarmerie were trained in military camps.

20th century

Greek Gendarmerie at the turn of the 20th century
Georgios Papandreou and Nikolaos Plastiras with Gendarmerie officers, 1950

In 1906 the Gendarmerie underwent its first major restructuring at an administrative level. It acquired its own educational and training facilities independent of those of the army (though still remaining a nominal part of the armed forces). Despite this the Gendarmerie still maintained a largely military based structure, based on its involvement in the Macedonian Struggle, and the Balkan and First World Wars. As a result, it tended to neglect civilian matters, something addressed with the establishment of a civilian city police force for Attica in 1920, which would eventually be expanded to urban centers in the entire country.

Modernization of the country's police forces was stunted by the successive periods of political instability, which culminated in the regime of Ioannis Metaxas and the Second World War. After the war, however, British experts were brought in to help reform the police along the lines of the British Police. As a result, after 1946 the police forces ceased to be a formal part of the Defence Ministry, although they retained several military features and were organized along military lines.

Reflecting a new emphasis on civilian policing, in 1984 both the Gendarmerie and the Cities Police were merged into a single unified Hellenic Police.[1] Although elements of the former military structure and hierarchy were maintained, explicit characteristics of a "militarily organized" force (such as courts-martial) were lost.

Ranks insignia



Moirarchos Ypomoirarchos Anthypomoirarchos Enomotarchis A' Enomotarchis Β' Ypenomotarchis


Lieutenant General (Chief) Αντιστράτηγος Major General (Υποστράτηγος) Brigadier Ταξίαρχος

(1946 onwards)

Colonel (Police director) Συνταγματάρχης Lieutenant Colonel Αν/χης Major (Ταγματάρχης) Commander Μοίραρχος Lieutenant Υπομοίραρχος Second Lieutenant Ανθυπομοίραρχος Warrant Officer Ανθυπασπιστής Gendarme Master Sergeant Ενωμοτάρχης Α΄ Gendarme Staff Sergeant Ενωμοτάρχης Gendarme Sergeant Υπενωμοτάρχης Gendarme Χωροφύλακας Gendarme Operative Δόκιμος Χωροφύλακας


General (ret.)

Στρατηγός (ε.α.)

Lieutenant General (Chief) Αντιστράτηγος Major General (Υποστράτηγος) Brigadier Ταξίαρχος Colonel (Police director) Συνταγματάρχης Lieutenant Colonel Αν/χης Major (Ταγματάρχης) Commander Μοίραρχος Lieutenant Υπομοίραρχος Second Lieutenant Ανθυπομοίραρχος Warrant Officer Ανθυπασπιστής Ενωμοτάρχης Α΄ Ενωμοτάρχης Υπενωμοτάρχης Gendarme Χωροφύλακας Gendarme in Training Δόκιμος Χωροφύλακας



Small arms

Name[2] Country of origin Type Notes Image
Smith and Wesson № 38   United States Revolver Length: 26 cm

Weight: 801 gr

№ 36 grenade   United Kingdom Hand grenade  
MK3A1 grenade   United States Hand grenade
CN M7 tear gas grenade
CN DM irritant grenade
AN-M14 incendiary grenade
CH (M8) smoke grenade
M15 white phosphorus smoke grenade
M18 colored smoke flare
AN-M3 red smoke flare [1]
Lee–Enfield   United Kingdom (№ 1,3,4)

  Canada (№4)

Bolt action rifle  
M1 Garand   United States Semi-automatic rifle  
Thompson   United States Submachine gun  
Bren gun   United Kingdom Light machine gun  
60mm M19 mortar   United States Mortar


  1. ^ (IAW Law 1481/1-10-1984, Government Gazette 152 A)
  2. ^ Gendarmerie HQ, Training Directorate (January 1975). Εγχειρίδιον διδασκαλίας οπλομηχανημάτων (in Greek). Athens: Gendarmerie Printing House.
  • After the War was Over, Mark Mazower (Reconstructing the family, nation and state in Greece)