Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Australian and New Zealand forces on 13 April 1941

 General Mackay had seen the 1st Armoured  Brigade in the Sotir rearguard position. From there, he was "driving south" to see the 16th and 19th Australian Brigades and the 4th New Zealand Brigade. At about 10am, the British were pulling out of Sotir. When General Mackay met with the 19th Brigade commander, he reported that his "brigade was worn out". He heard that General Blamey had already ordered a New Zealand battalion to cross the Aliakmon "to reinforce them". General Mackay had stayed at the "Aliakmon bridge until 3:20pm". The enemy had been attacking the Ptolemais rearguard position.General Mackay ordered Australian engineers to blow the bridge, which they did successfully. Soon, six British 3-ton trucks arrived. They were able to cross a pontoon bridge that was still intact. 

At the Servia pass, the 4th New Zealand Brigade had been "digging in for three days". There were two Australian and one New Zealand field regiments "in position". One New Zealand battalion had "moved to Rymnion on the south side of the river". The battalion commander found that he was to "join the Australians on the north of the river". 

There were two battalions from the 19th Brigade that had arrived on 13 April. They had arrived in trucks at Kerasia. The men were forced to climb the hills "while the trucks returned to Kozani". Men from the 2/8th Battalion had gradually arrived as stragglers. This brought the battalion strength up to 308 men. There were another fifty men who ended up taking a "wrong turn" and being left at Kozani and were on the "south side of the river". This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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