Monday, June 04, 2012
The night of 26 to 27 April 1941
The night of 26 to 27 April 1941 was very important. On that night, approximately 19,000 troops boarded ships for withdrawal. As we saw, two of the transports were sunk by air attack. They were the Slamat and the Costa Rica. In addition, two destroyers were sunk. Still, a large fraction of the British and Commonwealth troops left in Greece were withdrawn. Too many troops were left in Greece, though. Near Athens, on the beaches, were the 4th New Zealand Brigade Group and part of the 1st Armoured Brigade. There were about 2,500 men at Argos, on the beaches. The 6th New Zealand Brigade Group was at Tripolis. There were some more units at Monemvasia, and there were still 8,000 at Kalamata. The next morning, by about 11am, the 4th Brigade was bombed, and ammunition was hit and exploded, destroying guns and killing gunners and infantrymen. The local Greek inhabitants still took the time to offer water and well wishes to the New Zealanders, as they moved through to their positions.By 3pm in the afternoon, a column of German light tanks and supporting vehicles moved into Markopoulon. As they left the town, they were hit by gunfire. By late on the 27th, the brigade destroyed vehicles and guns and then moved to the beaches at Porto Rafti. There, they were embarked by the cruiser Ajax and the destroyers Kimberley and Kingston. About 3,840 men were picked up by the ships. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.