Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The airborne attack at the Corinth canal

The Corinth canal area had come under increasingly intense air attacks from at least 25 April 1941. The airborne attack by paratroops and gliders had started early on 26 April. The paratroops quickly overcame the defending Australians, although the engineers were able to blow the bridge over the canal. Some nearby New Zealand troops were also captured, after being overcome. There had been troops left at Megara, but about 500 men were attacked by German paratroops, as they neared Corinth. The commanders were slow to learn of the attack at the Corinth canal. After they realized what had happened, they organized defenses to gain time for troops to withdraw. There were still troops to the northwest of Athens. The rest were to the south. General Wilson planned to withdraw and leave General Freyberg in command of the remaining troops. We already know that the troops at Kalamata came to a bad end as prisoners. They mostly were not fighting troops. The British had pulled out and left the Australians and New Zealanders to fend for themselves. If the troops still left were lost, the two countries would have to endure great losses in men and women. On 26 April, the 4th New Zealand Brigade was at Ethrai, trying to stay under cover. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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