Thursday, February 09, 2012

A messy withdrawal: 20 April 1941

Allen's force straggled back towards the bulk of the division. The rearguard had finally pulled back after 5pm on 20 April 1941. Colonel Lamb had reached the division headquarters and realized that he had not seen Brigadier Allen since the morning. Men from the 2/2 and 2/3 battalions were straggling back towards the rear in small groups. By later in the day, there were seven officers and 297 men from the 2/2 Battalion near General Blamey's headquarters. Many of the men from the 2/3 Battalion were on trucks that were still on the road. By later on 20 April there were as many as 500 men from the 2/3 Battalion assembled. Some New Zealanders and more men from the 2/2 and 2/3 battalions arrived after having to abandon their vehicles and march towards the division headquarters. We find that Brigadier Allen had driven down a dead-end road, found some sixty men, assigned an officer to command them, and then instructed them to keep marching south. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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