Sunday, January 31, 2016

Events in early 1941 as the Greek operation started

Events moved faster in early 1941 as the Greek campaign commenced. After General Wynter's illness, the 18th Brigade commander, Brigadier Morshead, was appointed as 9th Australian Division commander. Lt-Colonel Wooten became 18th Brigade commander in Morshead's place. Wooten became a brigadier and Morshead became a Major-General.

Much of the action for Greece started in February 1941. General Wavell informed General Blamey of the plans for Greece right before Anthony Eden and General Sir John Dill arrived in Cairo to start negotiations with the Greek Government. The Greek Government had agreed to a British expedition on 24 February. General Blamey had gotten his way on sending the 6th Australian Division to Greece and kept the 9th Australian Division in Libya. Almost immediately, elements of the 2nd Armoured Division started the process of replacing the 7th Armoured Division in Cyrenaica, the portion of Libya that the British had taken. Lt-General Neame replaced General Wilson as the Cyrenaica Command commanding officer. Neame had been the 4th Indian Division commander from February 1940. In August 1940, he had been appointed as GOC of Palestine and Transjordan. He had wanted to command in the campaign against Italy in late 1940 until early 1941, but had to watch the successful campaign.

General Blamey announced a reorganization of Australian forces on 26 February 1941. The result was that the 9th Australian Division had three brigades, the 20th, 24th, and 26th Brigades. They got their three field regiments and an anti-tank regiment. The 9th Australian Division then had to move quickly to arrive in the Western Desert, as the 6th Australian Division was to go to Greece and needed to be relieved. The 24th Brigade was short, as they only had two complete battalions. The third battalion was still at Darwin in Australia, and would not arrive until April, according to the plan. This is baed on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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