Monday, February 20, 2012

The Decision to Withdraw from Greece

General Mackay has said later that he expected to stand in position for another two weeks and then be beaten by greater force. That is what he was apparently thinking late on 20 April 1941. Brigadier Vasey, commanding the 19th Brigade, thought the same thing at the time. Out of the blue, General Wavell arrived at the headquarters and ordered the force to withdraw from Greece, contrary to what everyone expected. What had happened was the surrender by General Tsolakoglou. That changed the picture completely, at least from General Wavell's perspective. Wavell was ready to take sympathetic Greeks with them, if they wanted to leave before the German occupation. General Wilson's plan for withdrawal was only issued on 23 April. He had already given verbal instructions, however, to Generals Blamey and Freyberg. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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