Wednesday, July 28, 2021

From 16 April 1941 and beyond

 General Blamey wanted a man with good judgment and a lot of experience watching over the New Zealand 21st Battalion. He sent his artillery commander, Brigadier Clowes to check out the situation and take any action he thought was necessary.

Brigadier Clowes drove through the night to the New Zealand Division headquarters and then on to Larisa. Traffic on the roads was bad, so Brigadier Clowes only left Larisa at 8am to drive on to Platamon. By 11am, he reached the east end of the Pinios Gorge. He found theh 21st Battalion there heard the news that "one company and part of another were missing".

Clowes ordered the battalion commander to hold the gorge until 19 April and do so essentially "at all cost" (even if they had to fight to the last man). The battalion commander was also told that support was on the way. 

He was also told to sink the ferry boat once all his men had crossed. He was to hold the west end of the gorge "to the last". Brigadier Clowes also ordered Lt-Col. Macky to move back to a spot seven miles to the south if the Germans broke through.

By late afternoon, the 21st Battalion had crossed. They had four guns that were too heavy for the "barge". The trucks drove across the railway bridge. The guns were man-handled across. They only sank the ferry at this point. They only did that after they ferried across a "large flock of goats and sheep, with two shepherdesses. 

Clowes had done the job that they had hoped he would do. At that point, General Blamey and his staff worked to find reinforcements to send "as a stop-gap". This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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