Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tomorrow will be the 71st anniversary of the withdrawal of Australian troops from Kalamata in Greece. This picture shows Australian troops waiting for the embarkation at Kalamata. Some of the troops were from the 2/1st Field Regiment, which had fought well in the waning days of the Greek campaign. The withdrawal had started to go wrong about this time, as the next day, German troops had arrived in Athens. In a few days, by 30 April, some seven to eight thousand troops were captured in Kalamata by the Germans. By then, 43,311 troops had been evacuated, but the lack of coordinated command by the British had allowed the Germans to gain the upper hand and to overrun the defenders trying to hold them back to allow more to withdraw. The picture is from the Australian War Memorial. This is in part, based on the Official History and online sources.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The two ships that embarked troops from Porto Rafti in Greece were the cruiser Calcutta and the fast transport Glengyle. The Calcutta was near the end of her service life, while the Glengyle was a relatively new ship.
The British cruiser Calcutta was a World War I veteran that had been converted into an anti-aircraft cruiser in 1939. The Calcutta was one of the C-class cruisers that had been built with a "trawler bow" to improve sea keeping during North Sea operations. Prior to embarking troops from the beach at Porto Rafti, the Calcutta had been assigned convoying duties to provide some protection against air attack at a time when there was inadequate fighter strength in the Mediterranean Sea. The Calcutta became a victim of the increasing German air presence in the Mediterranean Sea and was sunk on 1 June 1941 by Ju-88 dive bombers at the end of the battle for the island of Crete. The picture is at least of one of the converted cruisers of the same class (Cairo, Carlisle, Calcutta).
The Glengyle was one of a group of four fast cargo ships (18 knots) that quickly became favorites of Winston Churchill. The Glengyle was fitted to be able to carry early British landing craft and had been involved in a raid on Bardia a few days before the embarkation of Australian and New Zealand troops from Porto Rafti in Greece.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The April-May 1641 timeframe saw determined infantry backed by artillery able to defeat German tank tanks. One of these was at Tobruk on 11 April 1941. Another was the defence of Thermopylae. The third was again at Tobruk on 1 May. The Germans considered that 12 of the tanks knocked out at Thermopylae were total losses. Many more were disabled but were repaired. The Germans were already masters at recovering and repairing knocked out tanks. The British had yet to learn the skill. German records show the attack against the New Zealanders was made by 18 tanks, including four Pzkw IV's armed with short 75mm guns. The tanks were crewed by 70 men, of whom 7 were killed and 22 wounded. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History."
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Thursday, April 05, 2012
When the troops arrived in Athens, the had the marks of a twelve hour battle and a 160 mile trip through the night. On 25 April 1941, a long column of trucks and carriers, filled with troops from Brigadier Barrowclough's 6th New Zealand Brigade. The people greeted them and threw them flowers. Men and girls climbed up on the running boards to shake their hands. The quote, which is representative of what the men heard, is "Come back--you must come back again--Good luck--Good luck".
Back in the hills, on the left, the 19th Australian Brigade had been under German attack. The guns had been attacked from the air on April 23rd. The guns were moved at night further to the rear, but left the previous emplacements looking as if they were still occupied. Sure enough, on 24 April, 65 Stukas hit the positions that they had vacated. The men could see German tanks on the move, wheeling to hit the New Zealanders. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official history.