Monday, November 25, 2013

More thoughts on Retimo in 1941

The Australian War Memorial was loathe to criticize Lt-Col. Ian Campbell, the Australian commander at Retimo airfield on Crete in May 1941. Lt-Col. Campbell was a regular army officer, unlike Major Sandover, who was a civilian before the war. Lt-Col. Campbell was a new battalion commander, taking over command of the 2/1st Battalion shortly before the German attack on Crete on 20 May 1941. Major Sandover commanded the other Australian battalion, the 2/11th. Lt-Col. Campbell felt a heavy responsibility for both his own battalion and for being the overall commander at Retimo. The Australian Official History praised Lt-Col. Campbell for keeping his battalion intact and surrendering them to the Germans. From his perspective, he was preventing needless bloodshed and would not put the Greek civilians on Crete in a bad position trying to help his men. I have much more sympathy for Major Sandover, who led a group from his battalion that left Retimo with the idea of keeping away from the Germans and ultimately escaping from the island. This is based on the information on the Australian War Memorial website and in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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