Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alleged war crimes on 27 May 1941

Major Forster, commander of the I Battalion engaged with the Australian 19th Brigade west of Suda reported to his regimental commander that he thought that war crimes had been committed. He had found 121 dead Germans and he felt sure that some had been wounded and then had been knifed or shot when they were helpless by the Australians. Forster's battalion had been advancing towards the east in heavy olive trees when they ran onto a minefield which stopped the advance. He thought that they were in danger of being surrounded, so he had pulled his men back. His battalion was then withdrawn into an existing defensive position on high ground. He reported that some dead Germans had been stabbed or had broken skulls. When they checked the battle field, they found about 20 Australian and New Zealand dead, none with stab or butt wounds. Lt-Colonel Walker, reported that there had been automatic weapons forward for the Germans. These had been captured and they inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans nearby. He said that no one who wanted to surrender was shot, after the fighting slowed. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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