Monday, August 19, 2013

"The New Zealand Division can't hold another night": 26 May 1941

By the afternoon of 26 May 1941, the command structure for Crete was "showing cracks". The New Zealand Division commander, Brigadier Puttick read that General Freyberg intended that a new Composite Brigade would be commanded by Brigadier Inglis. The brigade was intended to relieve the 5th New Zealand Brigade in the line. Brigadier Puttick's opinion was that the New Zealand Division troops were at the end of their ability to fight. General Freyberg's headquarters were within walking distance, so Brigadier Puttick walked over to talk with him. General Freyberg told Puttick that they had to hold, because two destroyers were heading for Suda Bay with commandos and supplies. He also told Brigadier Puttick that since they were now in the area of Canea and Suda, that the New Zealand Division would fall under General Weston's command. While Brigadier Puttick was walking, which took three hours, the Germans continued to advance around the left of the line. Later that evening, General Weston informed General Freyberg that he thought that the New Zealand Division could not hold their positions for another night. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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