Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The rearguard during the withdrawal from Crete

The British army and navy, especially in WWII, had these situations that went terribly wrong, but where men's bravery shown, nonetheless. On May 30th, 1941, 6,000 men were embarked at Sphakia by ships under the command of Vice-Admiral King. The amphibious transport Glengyle was an important compeonent, as she had the necessary landing craft to take men off the beach. On May 31st, four destroyers took off another 1,500 soldiers. General Freyburg was ordered to leave, and he and the senior naval officer at Suda Bay were taken by flying boat to Egypt. The rearguard was commanded by Brigadier Vasey. They were the 19th Australian Brigade, some light tanks from the 3rd Hussars, the 2/3rd Australian Field Regiment, the Royal Marine Battalion, and "Layforce". The Germans tried to turn the flanks, but most were able to be withdrawn. 4,000 were taken off, but 5,000 were left to surrender. A last ditch attempt was made to rescue more, but all they had to show for their efforts was the loss of the AA cruiser Calcutta.

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