Monday, December 30, 2013
German intelligence failure or British deception success?
Thursday, December 26, 2013
A bad day for paratroops: 20 May 1941 at Heraklion
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The power of the Bofors 40mm Light AA gun
Monday, December 23, 2013
The Attackers at Heraklion on 20 May 1941
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
21 May 1941 at Heraklion
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
The aftermath of the attack on Heraklion on 20 May 1941
Monday, December 16, 2013
The initial attack at Heraklion on 20 May 1941
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Why the battle for Heraklion in 1941 is interesting
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The 14th Brigade
Monday, December 09, 2013
The units at Heraklion at the time of the German attack on 20 May 1941
Headquarters, 14th Infantry Brigade
2/Blackwatch with 867 officers and men
2/York and Lancasters with 742 officers and men
2/Leicester with 637 officers and men
2/4th Australian Bzttalion with about 550 officers and men
7th Medium Regiment with about 450 officers and men armed as infantry
a detachment from the 3rd Hussars with six light tanks (apparently Lt.Mk.VIb tanks)
a squadron from the 7th RTR with two infantry tanks (probably Inf.Mk.II)
234 Medium Battery with 13 field guns
two troops of the 7th Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Battery with eight 40mm Bofors AA guns
one troop of 156 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery with four 40mm Bofors AA guns
two sections of C Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery with four 3 inch AA guns with some 2pdr AA guns
a section from 42 Field Company, Royal Engineers
a detachment from 189 Field Ambulance
one Greek garrison battalion
3rd Greek Recruit Battalion
7th Greek Recruit Battalion
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Heraklion, leading up to the attack on 20 May 1941
Monday, December 02, 2013
Heraklion on Crete in May 1941
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
An interesting site: www.my-crete-site.co.uk
Monday, November 25, 2013
More thoughts on Retimo in 1941
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Summary of the German situation at Retimo
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The Germans at Retimo on 21 May 1941
Monday, November 18, 2013
At Retimo on 29 May 1941
Thursday, November 14, 2013
More of the German story at Retimo on 20 and 21 May 1941
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The German attack at Retimo had gone awry
Monday, November 11, 2013
29 May 1941 at Retimo
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Sandover's battalion on 29 May 1941 at Retimo
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
The troops at Retimo did not receive the message about withdrawal from Crete
Monday, November 04, 2013
Jackson's company escape from Perivolia 28-29 May 1941
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The attack on Perivolia early on 28 May 1941
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Knocked out tanks at Retimo airfield
Monday, October 28, 2013
Campbell's tanks: 24 May to 27 May 1941 at Retimo airfield
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
More action near the Retimo airfield on 23 May 1941
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
23 May 1941 at Retimo
Monday, October 21, 2013
On the left end of the position at Retimo air field on 22 May 1941
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
At the Olive Oil Factory east of Retimo airfield on 22 May 1941
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
The plan for the Retimo area on 22 May 1941
Monday, October 14, 2013
The situation near the airfield at Retimo from the evening of 21 May to morning of 22 May 1941
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Germans on the prowl after Hill A at Retimo airfield was recaptured
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Early on 21 May 1941 at the Retimo airfield
Monday, October 07, 2013
The night of 20/21 May 1941 and the morning of 21 May at Retimo airfield
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The 2/11th on Hill B at Retimo
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
The next events at Retimo on 20 May 1941
Monday, September 30, 2013
Hill A near the Retimo air field on 20 May 1941
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Retimo attacked on 20 May 1941
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
More about Retimo in May 1941 on Crete
Monday, September 23, 2013
The situation at Retimo from 30 April 1941 onwards
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The situation at Retimo, on Crete, starting from 19 May 1941
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
More from 27 May 1931 on Crete
Monday, September 16, 2013
More about the alleged massacre at 42nd Street on 27 May 1941
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Alleged war crimes on 27 May 1941
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Germans on Crete on 25 and 27 May 1941
Monday, September 09, 2013
The decision to withdraw from Crete on 27 May 1941
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
The rout begins: 27 to 28 May 1941 on Crete
General Weston was thinking in terms of withdrawal from the island of Crete when he went south, later on 27 May 1941. He intended to scout out the route that would be taken to the south of the island for withdrawal. Once he got south, he was trapped, because of road congestion. The mostly unarmed, disorganized groups of men were in a panic and were clogging the roads to the south. General Weston was unable to travel back north to Suda.
Before he had left for the trip south, General Weston had ordered Laycock, the D Battalion commander of Layforce, to occupy the Babali Inn as a rearguard position. He had assigned him two of the remaining infantry tanks, along with three carriers.
The men walking or riding vehicles to the south included base troops from Suda Bay, Cypriots, Palestinians, and improvised infantry units. What vehicles they had, they eventually abandoned. What had started as a spontaneous retreat from the Suda Bay area had turned into a rout due to the panic of the men. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Further developments at Suda on 27 May 1941
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The men charged the enemy on 27 May 1941 near Suda Bay
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The morning of 27 May 1941 at "42nd Street" near Suda
Monday, August 26, 2013
More about the night of 26-27 May 1941 in front of Canea
The commander of the Suda Brigade was Colonel Hely, an artillery-man. He had commanded the 106 RHA from 1939 to 1941. During 1941 to 1942, he commanded the 60 Field regiment. After the 5th New Zealand Brigade and 19th Australian Brigade withdrew, Colonel Hely thought that the Suda Brigade needed to withdraw, as well. That left the Composite Brigade without any support. They had followed orders that were a bad idea and advanced west of Canea about a mile. The withdrawal left the 5th and 19th Brigades just west of Suda. The commandos of A Battalion of Layforce were near the village of Suda. By the morning, the Australians were surprised that they did not see the Composite Brigade troops coming up as their rear-guard. When the Composite Brigade had been misplaced, Brigadier Inglis took back his command of the 4th New Zealand Brigade and Howard Kippenberger moved back to being the 20th Battalion commander.
When General Weston realized that the Composite Brigade was in trouble, he ordered the 1/Welch to withdraw, but they probably never got the order or it was too late in arriving. They were too far forward with the 1/Rangers and the Northumberland Hussars. As the Germans started to encircle the Composite Battalion, Two companies eventually reached Suda. They later found out that a sergeant and a few men from the 1/Welch had held up the German advance until early on 28 May. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Communications and command gone wrong: the night of 26-27 May 1941 near Suda and Canea
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The defense in front of Canea collapsed: late on 26 May 1941
Monday, August 19, 2013
"The New Zealand Division can't hold another night": 26 May 1941
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Further events on 26 May 1941 in front of Canea
Later in the afternoon of 26 May 1941, the pressure on the Australian 2/8th and 2/7th Battalions on the left of the line in front of Canea was so great that they were withdrawn. They were moved back to their original positions with the Marines at Mournies. Earlier in the day, their brigade commander, Brigadier Vasey, had thought that they would be able to hold, but by 5pm, he recognized that the situation had become critical.
Also in the afternoon, Brigadier Puttick, the acting New Zealand Division commander, was in the process of moving his headquarters to a point south of Canea. While that move was happening, he received a letter from General Freyberg that asked him to co-locate his headquarters with General Weston. Freyberg also plotted to take Weston's best units and for a composite brigade from them. He wanted to use the Composite Brigade to replace the remnants of the 5th New Zealand Brigade in the line. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
26 May 1941 in front of Canea
Monday, August 12, 2013
General Freyberg reported to General Wavell on 26 May 1941
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
General Freyberg basically gave up on 26 May 1941
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Other action in front of Canea on 25 and 26 May 1941 on Crete
Monday, August 05, 2013
The situation in front of Canea turns nasty on 25 May 1941
Friday, August 02, 2013
The situation turns for the worse on 25 May 1941 for the New Zealanders on Crete
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Germans on 24 May 1941 near Canea
On 24 May 1941, the Germans were massing to attack the New Zealand Division. They had two airborne and one mountain regiment on the move. Another mountain regiment was moving south towards the prime target, Suda Bay. The first step was to attack the heights at Galatas, to the west-southwest of Canea. The Assault Regiment would hit the heights near Galatas. The mountain troops of the 100th Mountain Regiment would attack Galatas itself. The 3rd Parachute Regiment would attack along the road to Canea. More reinforcements were landed on the 24th at Maleme, as well. These included one-and-a-half mountain battalions, a reconnaissance unit, and an anti-aircraft unit.
The New Zealanders were well-aware that an attack was imminent. The tired and depleted 5th New Zealand Brigade, or what was left of it, was to be ready to help the 4th Brigade. In preparation, the 4th Brigade was worked over by attacking aircraft on 24 May. Counting up the 5th Brigade, they had remnants of four battalions only totaling about 1,500 men. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Monday, July 29, 2013
24 May 1941 near Canea on Crete
The western end of the forces defending Crete stretched out about three miles to the southwest of Canea on 24 May 1941. The troops near the sea were from the 5th New Zealand Brigade. This also included the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry. The 4th New Zealand Brigade was behind them in reserve. To their southeast were the Australians and Greeks. Behind them were forces commanded by General Weston, the Royal Marine. Called the Reserve Position, it was held by the "Royal Perivolians" and the Suda Brigade. The Royal Perivolians were the unit that included Royal Marines and the Australian 2/2 Field Regiment, fighting as infantry.
There was a strong German force moving through the hills, intent on cutting off the defenders around Suda Bay. They spent 24 May just making probing attacks against the 4th New Zealand Brigade. A stronger attack was launched at 4pm against the 18th New Zealand Battalion. They were pushed back, but counter-attacked to restore the line. The Germans staged air attacks all afternoon that seemed to be designed to wreck Canea. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Friday, July 26, 2013
24 May 1941 from the Germans
Air attacks on 24 May 1941 had hit the mixed troops at Kastelli. Some German paratroops had been captured on the first day and had been held prisoner at Kastelli. The air attacks enabled them to escape. They obtained arms and attacked the New Zealand officers who were with the 1st Greek Regiment. They killed or captured several of them. The Greek regiment was really a battalion-sized unit of one thousand men, but they only had some 600 rifles and only had several rounds per rifle. After the air attack, a German mountain engineer battalion attacked and made good progress. The Greeks were able to resist until 26 May, which prevented the Germans from bringing in more reinforcements.
At about this time, a German naval officer was ordered to take two light tanks to Crete to support the attack. He was able to find a wooden lighter and was able to get the two tanks lowered onto the lighter. A small tug boat towed the lighter, but reports of British naval activity caused the German naval commander, Admiral Schuster, to order the tug and lighter to move into the harbor at Kithera. This is based on the account in Walter Ansel's and Peter Schenk's books.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The German view of the battle for Crete on 23 May 1941
Monday, July 22, 2013
Reinforcements for Crete
There were two infantry tanks that were landed at Timbakion the night before the German attack. By the 23rd of May 1941, they reached Heraklion. They also reported that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were traveling there, presumably on foot. They had landed with the tanks. With the arrival of the two infantry tanks, there were now three runners at Heraklion. They were put on a landing craft and sent to Suda with two 75mm guns.
The Glenroy was to have brought reinforcements to Timbakion, but was ordered to turn back due to the heavy air attack that sank destroyers. The fast mine layer Abdiel was sent with a commando force, eventually known as "Layforce". Layforce consisted of 195 commandos.
The Germans now turned their attention to capturing Suda Bay. The first step was to send a group of mountain troops from the 85th Mountain Regiment towards Alikianou and then east towards Suda Bay. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Retimo, the isolated area on 23-24 May 1941
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The defensive plan for Crete on 23 May 1941
Monday, July 15, 2013
The New Zealand withdrawal on 23 May 1941
Friday, July 12, 2013
The 5th New Zealand Brigade situation early on 23 May 1941
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Freyberg's assessment from 23 May 1941
Monday, July 08, 2013
Wavell and his staff make unrealistic suggestions late on 22 May 1941
Friday, July 05, 2013
The issue about mutilation and reprisals by German troops
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
The situation at Kastelli
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
General Ringel's plan for 23 May 1941 on Crete
Thursday, June 27, 2013
22 May 1941 from the German perspective
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Naval forces involved with the battle for Crete in May 1941
Monday, June 24, 2013
Naval operations in support of Crete on 23 May 1941
Friday, June 21, 2013
More developments on Crete on 22 May 1941
The situation on Crete was very serious by 22 May 1941. There were enemy troops now blocking important roads. A group commanded by Colonel Campbell attacked at Retimo, but was not able to completely clear the road to the east and west. The Germans were reported to be blocking the road to the coast to the south where reinforcements would be landed. Late on 22 May, the 16th Brigade headquarters and one battalion sailed for Crete on the Glenroy. The plan was to land them at Timbakion to remove the Germans who were on the road.
There was a lot of naval action around Crete on 22 May. A force of three cruisers with destroyers attacked ships between Heraklion and a nearby island. They sank one caique, the ubiquitous type of Greek small vessel. Ships were running out of anti-aircraft ammunition and major units were lost. They included the cruisers Fiji and Gloucester. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Nigel Richardson's father: Crete 1941
There is an interesting article in the Telegraph by Nigel Richardson that talks about his father and his fellows in the battle for Crete in 1941. The German invasion had started on Friday, 20 May 1941, as we know. One of those killed on 22 May 1941, which we have been reviewing, was a British spy, John Pendlebury. He had been an archaeologist and had the personal peculiarity of having a glass eye. Nigel Richardson was a member of the Northumberland Hussars. He had been evacuated from Greece when the campaign there was being wound down and the troops withdrawn. He ended up at Suda Bay, where many other soldiers were dropped by the navy.
Nigel Richardson notes that the area of Hill 107 has been a German cemetery. Hill 107 was the place abandoned by Lt-Colonel Andrew's battalion when they were in the process of collapse after being attacked while unsupported by the 5th New Zealand Brigade. The New Zealanders are commemorated by a street at Galatas named the Neozilandon Polemiston. At one spot in an alley, there is a gate made from a piece of a British tank.
Nigel Richardson's father made his way to Sfakia, as the battle gave way to withdrawal. He was one of the about 5,000 men who were left behind to be taken prisoner by the Germans. He spent about four years as a prisoner of war in Germany. This is based on Nigel Richardson's article and what we know from Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Other events relating to Crete on 22 May 1941
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The situation Crete deteriorates during late 22 May and early 23 May 1941
Monday, June 10, 2013
Late on 22 May 1941 in the Prison Valley on Crete
Starting at about 3pm on 22 May 1941, the New Zealand 19th Battalion had attacked towards an old Turkish fort in the Prison Valley on Crete. They were repulsed with the loss of 12 men. In return, the Germans launched counter-attack towards Galatas at about 7pm. Kippenberger's troops immediately attacked the group. Some Greeks that were nearby, commanded by Captain Forrester, charged towards the Germans, yelling and screaming. That broke the German advance and they withdrew.
In the vicinity of the Maleme airfield, an attack had been planned, but when the New Zealand Division commander realized that there was a German group holding the coast road between the 4th and 5th New Zealand Brigades, he changed his mind. That evening, the decision was made to withdraw from the area near the Maleme airfield and to cede the ground to the Germans. The Australian Official History says that this was in recognition that the battle for Crete was lost. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Were the Germans withdrawing? 22 May 1941 on Crete
At Brigadier Hargest's 5th New Zealand Brigade headquarters, there was a suggestion that the Germans might be withdrawing troops by transport aircraft. The suggestion was prompted by thoughts about German troops running to aircraft as they landed at Maleme. Someone had thought that the troops might be running to the Ju-52 transports to board them to be able to leave. The truth seems to be that the aircraft were landing under fire. Brave men were running to the Ju-52 transport aircraft to unload them as quickly as possible, in case that they would be hit by shellfire.
To test out the idea that the Germans were leaving, the New Zealand division commander, Puttick, ordered Brigadier Kippenberger to probe the enemy in the vicinity of the prison. The patrols encountered heavy resistance, indicating that the Germans were in strength, not reducing their forces. The 19th Battalion had also made an attack towards an old Turkish fort, but was rebuffed by a strong German defense. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.