Monday, September 09, 2013

The decision to withdraw from Crete on 27 May 1941

Because of the situation on the roads to the south of Crete, General Weston had lost his ability to control the rearguard action until Thursday, 29 May 1941. That anything good could happen was due to the efforts of the Australian and New Zealand brigade commanders and Colonel Laycock. By this time, the Greek forces had practically ceased to exist. The rout that had occurred spontaneously included men discarding their rifles and even their tunics due to the heat. The sort of input that General Freyberg received from General Wavell's headquarters in Egypt was totally useless. They had no idea of the situation on the ground and had responded to General Freyberg's message from 26 May by calling for withdrawing to the east and defending that part of the island. Freyberg's message on 26 May was that the situation was hopeless. Early on 27 May, General Freyberg informed the headquarters in Egypt that there was no food at Retimo, in the east, as well as no ammunition. They had lost all their artillery at Suda due to the lack of gun tractors. By the afternoon of 27 May, General Freyberg was told to abandon Crete by Wavell. General Wavell had asked London for guidance, as well he might, due to Churchill's involvement, but got no reply. General Wavell eventually received a message from London agreeing to withdrawing from Crete. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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