Monday, August 26, 2013

More about the night of 26-27 May 1941 in front of Canea

The commander of the Suda Brigade was Colonel Hely, an artillery-man. He had commanded the 106 RHA from 1939 to 1941. During 1941 to 1942, he commanded the 60 Field regiment. After the 5th New Zealand Brigade and 19th Australian Brigade withdrew, Colonel Hely thought that the Suda Brigade needed to withdraw, as well. That left the Composite Brigade without any support. They had followed orders that were a bad idea and advanced west of Canea about a mile. The withdrawal left the 5th and 19th Brigades just west of Suda. The commandos of A Battalion of Layforce were near the village of Suda. By the morning, the Australians were surprised that they did not see the Composite Brigade troops coming up as their rear-guard. When the Composite Brigade had been misplaced, Brigadier Inglis took back his command of the 4th New Zealand Brigade and Howard Kippenberger moved back to being the 20th Battalion commander.

When General Weston realized that the Composite Brigade was in trouble, he ordered the 1/Welch to withdraw, but they probably never got the order or it was too late in arriving. They were too far forward with the 1/Rangers and the Northumberland Hussars. As the Germans started to encircle the Composite Battalion, Two companies eventually reached Suda. They later found out that a sergeant and a few men from the 1/Welch had held up the German advance until early on 28 May. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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