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.

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