Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Command on 20 May 1941 on Crete suffered from poor communications
The British army, in early 1941, suffered from unreliable radio communications. To compensate, they tended to rely on landlines. On 20 May 1941, wire line communications were disrupted by the German attack. That left General Freyberg and his commanders without adequate ability to communicate. We suspect that early during the German attack on Crete, the British were dependent on messengers, as that was all that they had left. Despite the communication situation, General Freyberg had learned enough to understand that the Maleme area was "the danger point". He ordered two battalions of the 4th Brigade to be put under the division commander's control. He also wanted to give him the entire reserve for use at Maleme. Brigadier Puttick, the division commander, was receiving "cheerful and confident" reports from the 5th Brigade, thought that he needed to keep the reserves to use against the expected attack by troops brought in by ship. By afternoon, he decided to attack the prison area, despite the fact that it was late in the day. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.