Monday, April 14, 2014

A West-Australian escapes from Crete in June 1941

Private Carroll, from West Australia, found a Greek fishing boat and hoped to find companions to accompany him. He set out in the night on 11 June 1941. Every time he came close to the shore, there was gunfire, so he had to try to sail on his own. The boat was sixteen feet long, and was not intended for rowing. He rigged a piece of driftwood for the mast. He found a piece of canvas that he used as a sail. He had 350 miles to cover to the North African coast. He sailed slowly for six days until he was caught in a storm from the north-west. There were 20 to 30 foot waves, and all he could do is to sail downwind. About ten miles to go with land in sight, the bought filled with water and capsized. He managed to swim to shore and had a hard time in the breakers making landfall, as there were rocks. He managed to get shore on sand and had to lie on the sand to recover. He was found by Maltese soldiers who sent word to the command and he was picked up and taken to Mersa Matruh in the morning. The information that Private Carroll provided led the navy to attempt to take off more men by submarine. Lieutenant-Commander Poole went ashore and made contact with some men who were taken off on HMS Thresher. The officer stayed on Crete and found more men, including Major Sandover. On 18, 19, and 20 August, more than 100 men were embarked on HMS Torbay, another submarine. Among those embarked were 13 officers and 39 men from the 2/11th Battalion that had fought at Retimo. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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