Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The defense in front of Canea collapsed: late on 26 May 1941
Both the Australians and New Zealanders in front of Canea were being pressed so hard that they felt the need to withdraw, later in the day on 26 May 1941. The command structure had been made more complicated when General Weston had been given command over the New Zealand Division. Worse yet, General Weston felt like major decisions about withdrawals were beyond what he was allowed to make. When the Australian Brigadier Vasey told General Weston that he would not be able to hold on overnight, General Weston felt like he needed to consult General Freyberg before agreeing to a withdrawal. Communications were so bad that the discussion meant a trip where General Weston was out of touch with the troops in the line for hours. The result of that issue was that by late in the day on 26 May, unilateral decisions were made which put the New Zealand and Australian troops into a withdrawal from the front before Canea. Brigadier Puttick, the New Zealand Division commander, kept trying to contact Weston, but General Weston had been forced to leave Canea due to the heavy bombing. Brigadier Puttick tried to contact General Freyberg by radio, but was told to take his orders from General Weston. From the distance of time, we can see that the situation before Canea was at the point of collapse, at least partly due to the command and communication arrangements that were in place. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.