Thursday, June 27, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
The situation on Crete was very serious by 22 May 1941. There were enemy troops now blocking important roads. A group commanded by Colonel Campbell attacked at Retimo, but was not able to completely clear the road to the east and west. The Germans were reported to be blocking the road to the coast to the south where reinforcements would be landed. Late on 22 May, the 16th Brigade headquarters and one battalion sailed for Crete on the Glenroy. The plan was to land them at Timbakion to remove the Germans who were on the road.
There was a lot of naval action around Crete on 22 May. A force of three cruisers with destroyers attacked ships between Heraklion and a nearby island. They sank one caique, the ubiquitous type of Greek small vessel. Ships were running out of anti-aircraft ammunition and major units were lost. They included the cruisers Fiji and Gloucester. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
There is an interesting article in the Telegraph by Nigel Richardson that talks about his father and his fellows in the battle for Crete in 1941. The German invasion had started on Friday, 20 May 1941, as we know. One of those killed on 22 May 1941, which we have been reviewing, was a British spy, John Pendlebury. He had been an archaeologist and had the personal peculiarity of having a glass eye. Nigel Richardson was a member of the Northumberland Hussars. He had been evacuated from Greece when the campaign there was being wound down and the troops withdrawn. He ended up at Suda Bay, where many other soldiers were dropped by the navy.
Nigel Richardson notes that the area of Hill 107 has been a German cemetery. Hill 107 was the place abandoned by Lt-Colonel Andrew's battalion when they were in the process of collapse after being attacked while unsupported by the 5th New Zealand Brigade. The New Zealanders are commemorated by a street at Galatas named the Neozilandon Polemiston. At one spot in an alley, there is a gate made from a piece of a British tank.
Nigel Richardson's father made his way to Sfakia, as the battle gave way to withdrawal. He was one of the about 5,000 men who were left behind to be taken prisoner by the Germans. He spent about four years as a prisoner of war in Germany. This is based on Nigel Richardson's article and what we know from Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
Starting at about 3pm on 22 May 1941, the New Zealand 19th Battalion had attacked towards an old Turkish fort in the Prison Valley on Crete. They were repulsed with the loss of 12 men. In return, the Germans launched counter-attack towards Galatas at about 7pm. Kippenberger's troops immediately attacked the group. Some Greeks that were nearby, commanded by Captain Forrester, charged towards the Germans, yelling and screaming. That broke the German advance and they withdrew.
In the vicinity of the Maleme airfield, an attack had been planned, but when the New Zealand Division commander realized that there was a German group holding the coast road between the 4th and 5th New Zealand Brigades, he changed his mind. That evening, the decision was made to withdraw from the area near the Maleme airfield and to cede the ground to the Germans. The Australian Official History says that this was in recognition that the battle for Crete was lost. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
At Brigadier Hargest's 5th New Zealand Brigade headquarters, there was a suggestion that the Germans might be withdrawing troops by transport aircraft. The suggestion was prompted by thoughts about German troops running to aircraft as they landed at Maleme. Someone had thought that the troops might be running to the Ju-52 transports to board them to be able to leave. The truth seems to be that the aircraft were landing under fire. Brave men were running to the Ju-52 transport aircraft to unload them as quickly as possible, in case that they would be hit by shellfire.
To test out the idea that the Germans were leaving, the New Zealand division commander, Puttick, ordered Brigadier Kippenberger to probe the enemy in the vicinity of the prison. The patrols encountered heavy resistance, indicating that the Germans were in strength, not reducing their forces. The 19th Battalion had also made an attack towards an old Turkish fort, but was rebuffed by a strong German defense. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.