Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Withdrawal from Heraklion

To get a message to General Freyberg, Brigadier Chappel, commander of the troops at Heraklion, had to send the message by way of Egypt. This was in the night of 26 and 27 May 1941. He stated that the Germans were in control of heights that commanded their position at Heraklion. The road to the south was controlled by the Germans, and more paratroops were being landed outside of his position. They were starting to run short of food and ammunition at Heraklion. He asked if they should try to break out to the west or south. He received a reply on 27 May that Crete was to be abandoned. He informed his commanders early on 28 May of the situation. The troops would be embarked at night. Early on 28 May, ships sailed from Alexandria, including the cruisers Orion, Ajax, and Dido with destroyers. Ajax was damaged and had to return to Alexandria. The rest arrived off Heraklion at 11:30pm. The destroyers entered the harbor in groups of four and embarked troops. Everyone was embarked but troops holding a road block at Khoudesion and those left at the aid station at Knossos. No attempt was made to inform or embark the Greek troops. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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