Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Communications and command gone wrong: the night of 26-27 May 1941 near Suda and Canea
Because of the command and communications situation, Brigadier Puttick, the New Zealand Division commander, and Brigadier Vasey, the Australian, were forced to act to keep their troops from being overrun by the advancing Germans. By 2:15am, General Weston thought that the New Zealand Division was acting independently, regardless of what he told them. When the New Zealand 5th Brigade and the Australian 19th Brigade withdrew, that triggered the withdrawal of the Suda Brigade, which had been in reserve at Mournies. The Composite Brigade had no idea about the withdrawals, especially of the Suda Brigade, and went on with their advance to a position west of Canea. The 5th and 19th Brigades were then in position to the west of Suda. One battalion of commandos were near Suda. General Weston realized at 1am that the Composite Brigade was in a dangerous position and sent orders to withdraw. Those orders were probably not received and the most forward companies were caught. One was caught and the other took heavy losses. The latest move left the surviving units at "42nd Street", preparing for the next day's action. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.