Wednesday, July 27, 2011

General Papagos felt like the British had not met their commitments

Wilson's Force W was supposed to cover the Greek 12th and 20th Divisions as they withdrew. General Papagos felt abandoned, because General Mackay's force, which would have covered the Greek divisions, had started to withdraw late on 10 April 1941. General Mackay was very concerned about meeting his obligation, but the Greeks ran into trouble and ended up being partially dispersed. Only part of the force managed to arrive at their destination by the night of 12/13 April. The 12th Division was protected all during 13 April. The Greek troops actually performed a good withdrawal to new positions and fought well in their new positions. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The 2/8th Battalion on 12-13 April 1941

The 2/8th Battalion had been thrown in the gap, straight from the Desert, with raw reinforcements. They were just seven days out of Athens, and had little food or even the ability to rest. They had held out for two days, stopping the Germans, before the Germanss broke into their position with tanks. They stubbornly held the ridge a little longer, before they were forced to withdraw, leaving weapons and other equipment too heavy to carry in their weakened state. After all, they had gone for several days without sleep. They were lucky to withdraw as many men as they did. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 2/8th was in deep trouble: 12 April 1941

The 2/8th Battalion had depended on the Rangers to form a screen in front, but the Rangers misunderstood what was happening and withdrew to the "rearguard position at Rodona". By late afternoon on 12 April 1941, the situation became desperate, as German tanks and infantry penetrated the Australian position. The men withdrew as best they could, lightening their loads by abandoning weapons and other equipment. As the night fell, the men were marching in mud, which only made matters worse. The battalion should have started a retreat sooner, but the headquarters did not realize how bad the situation had gotten. As the men assembled at Rodona, there were only 250 men from the 2/8th. They included about half the officers but only a fraction of the men. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The German attack on 12 April 1941

The Germans attacked General Mackay's Australians on 12 April 1941. They attacked on a broad front and were in close formation. They overran a platoon, but Capt. Robertson's platoon was able to stop the Germans. The Rangers below, however, had thought that they were overrun, so they started to withdraw. The Germans had trucks and tanks and used the tanks to advance with the infantry following. These were the tactics that the Australians had used, themselves, in Libya. The Australians were increasingly under machine gun fire, and the Royal Horse artillery was left in an exposed position with no infantry in front. By 5pm, the Germans had penetrated the Australian front and had advanced deep behind the lines. In order to escape, the Australians often left their weapons behind. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

General Mackay's situation

General Mackay found that the Greek Central Macedonian Army had withdrawn from their positions at Perdika. He had not been informed beforehand. Now, he found that the last of the army was to move from the right to the left, and that there were 4,500 men, not the 3,000 that he had been led to believe. General Mackay ordered the Greeks to withdraw at 3pm on 12 April 1941. He gave them thirty trucks (lorries) to help with the move. General Mackay then gave orders to the 19th Australian Brigade to be ready to move by early on morning of 13 April. He wanted them in their vehicles by 4am. After the 19th Brigade withdrew, the remaining units would revert to the armoured brigade command, under Brigadier Charrington. Plans were disrupted by the German attack that hit about 8am on 12 April. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greek plans on 11 April 1941

Given the German threat to the left flank of the Allied army in Greece, General Papagos proposed pulling troops from Albania to reinforce the threatened area. He asked, though, for the 1st Armoured Brigade to provide support to the III Greek Corps that would be withdrawn. In the early morning on 12 April 1941, General Wilson issued oerders for a withdrawal of his forces to the line along the Aliakmon river and the Olympus passes. The New Zealand Division was already back at the Olympus passes. Late on the 11th, General Blamey had already ordered one battalion of the 16th Australian Brigade to withdraw from Veria. By early on 12 April, General Mackay could tell that his forces would be at risk at Vevi. The weather was also having a great negative effect on his troops. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Germans attack on 11 April 1941

By 5pm on 11 April 1941, the Germans launched an attack on the Australians astride the road in the Greek mountains. The attackers were about two battalions of infantry. British artillery stopped the attack before they reached the most forward Australian infantry. The Germans continued to probe and finally dug in a short distance from the Australians. All the while, the snow continued to fall. In the late evening, the snow was about six inches deep, although in places on the 3000 foot ridge, the snow was as deep as a foot. After 10pm, the Germans attacked the 2/8th, but lost prisoners. Some were found to be from the Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler SS motorized division. The Australians of the 2/8th were not well-equipped and lacked such essentials such as blankets. By then, the 2/8th was thinly spread over two miles of front. To the north, the Greek Cavalry division was able to hold their German attackers. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

11 April 1941: the Germans move forward

During the morning of 11 April 1941, some German tanks probed towards the dug in British and Dominion troops. In front of the Rangers, two German tanks ran onto mines and were disabled. During the day, the British field artillery fired on the German vehicles. The German artillery only arrived by late morning and started firing, including with heavy mortars. No direct attack had been launched yet, as there was word of a German flanking movement with tanks that would hit the Greek 20th Division. All the British could do was to send a squadron of the 3rd RTR and a troop of anti-tank guns. Six of the British tanks broke their tracks. Fortunately, the German flanking movement did not continue, so the British could withdraw. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The 10th and 11th of April 1941

By the end of 10 April, 1941, the New Zealand Division had occupied the Olympus passes. They had left behind a screen at Aliakmon, but that was all. At Vevi, things had gone wrong, as Greek units were cut off, despite the British intent to coordinate with them to prevent such an occurrence. With the retreating Greek soldiers and civilians passing through the British lines, there was increasing concern that there might be Germans among them. On the morning of 11 April, there was snow in the mountains, even though the valley had better weather. The soldiers on the mountain were wet and cold, and the snow restricted visibility to perhaps 150 yards. To make matters worse, they found that Germans were trying to infiltrate by speaking English and then taking prisoners. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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