Monday, February 18, 2013

Late on 20 May 1941 on Crete

When they heard on late 20 May 1931 that the Germans were clearing a landing ground near the prison, Colonel Kippenberger suggested to the division commander that they attack the prison area and recapture it. In the event, the attack happened at about 7:15pm. The attack was mounted by the 19th Battalion with three light tanks from the 3rd Hussars. By 8:30pm, they were within 1400 yards from the prison, on the north. Because of the darkness, the tank commander thought that they should stop for the night. The troops formed a surrounding perimeter around the tanks. By morning, the attackers withdrew. Only after the attack was Colonel Kippenberger given command of the 19th Battalion. They thought that the attack failed by being too late in the day and without adequate command from the senior commander in the area. By the night of 20 May, the Germans were left in possession of the airfield at Maleme, although it was under fire from the nearby artillery. The Germans also held the slopes near the prison and the reservoir and would be difficult to dislodge. This force threatened to break the New Zealand Division in two parts. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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