Sunday, January 29, 2006
From 24 May 1941, the Chiefs of Staff were living in unreality
When asked on 24 May 1941, Admiral Cunningham informed the Chief of Staff that the fleet could not operate in the Aegean or near Crete in daytime without crippling losses. The Chiefs of Staff responded that the fleet had to be ready to accept those losses. On 26 May, Admiral Cunningham told the Chiefs of Staff that he could predict losses if the fleet were required to operate in daytime. By 24 May, the battle on the ground was clearly lost. The airforce was able to do some damage, through heroic efforts, but the available strength was too small and the distance from Egypt was too great. Interestingly, the SAAF was using Marylands on offensive sorties, not just maritime reconnaissance. By the morning of 26 May 1941, General Freyberg informed General Wavell that if they wanted to save any of the troops on Crete, the withdrawal should start immediately. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.