Wednesday, December 29, 2021

continued action on 21 and 22 April 1941

 We should not be surprised that the Australians had one 25pdr gun out of action by the afternoon of 21 April. The gun had an oil leak. The young gun commander was aware that the Germans had brought up infantry. On the left, they were unloading infantry. The Australian gunners were depressing the the guns and by firing "weak charges" so that they could fire at the infantry. The Australians fired some fifty rounds down the hill.

The German medium guns responded to the Australian fire. They also came under heavy machine gun fire that caused the Australians to take cover. When they came out after a while they realize that the remaining gun was inoperable due to a trail hit. The Australians had been engaged in an eight hour gun battle. None of the men where hit at that point. 

The German medium guns now opened fire and caused casualties among the Australians. By dusk the Australians taking what they needed to take. 

Once the decision had been made to withdraw from Greece, the New Zealand 6th Brigade was ordered to defend Thermopylae Pass. The battalions involved were the 24th,  25th and 26th Battalions. They had seven artillery regiments in support. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, an Syria" by Gavin Long.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The action from 21 April 1941

 It was after 6pm that the noticed German vehicles driving south from Lamia. The Australian gunners were ready for tge Germans. The guns were all set, accurately pointed, so with three shots fired, they could hit the first struck and stop it. The following trucks turned around, set to drive back to Lamia. The "gunners and observers" sitting up high could see what they imagined were "hundreds of vehicles" driving "south into Lamia". 

"It was early on 22 April" that what seemed to be four German medium guns started firing at long range while vehicles were driving towards Sperkhios. When the Australians thought that there were German vehicles in range of the 25pdrs, they fired. The German medium guns fired back. 

The German shells were eventually hitting just 15 feet from the 25pdr guns, It was after this that the truck carrying smoke shells was hit. Smoke covered the scene for abut a half hour. HE shells in a trailer were hit. 

They could see German infantry disembarking from trucks. The Ausstralian gunners plaed some tricks that allowed them to fire at the infantry. 

This is based in the accoun in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The fight during 21 and 22 April, south of Lamia

 The Australians watching to the north could see many vehicle lights moving into Lamia. It was early on 22 April that the Australians started taking what seemed to be German medium gun fire. The medium guns seemed to e located in the woods located to the southeast of Lamia. They were beyond the range of the Australian 25 pounders. They could see vehicles moving south on the road to Sperkhios. every time the Australians fired on the vehicles at the fron of the line the German medium guns fired. Over time, the large shells were falling closer to the Australian guns. At one point a sGerman shehh hit an australian truck loaded with "smoke shells". For the following 30 minutes the Australians were shrouded by smoke. After that a trailer loaded with high explosive rounds was hit. A dump "of charges" was hit, causing an explosion. That set the "scrub" on fire. 

The Germans next moved some field guns closer. The started a gun battle with the Australian 25 pounders. By 1pm, one Australian had a defect that kept it from firing. 

The Australian artillery commander realized that the Germans had unloaded infantry on the left. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Events in Greece from 21 to 22 April 1941

 For some reason, in lateApril 1941, the Germans did not attack the British in Greece. Brigadier Herring, the 6th Australian Division artillery commander was watching the 2/2nd Field Regiment as it was in the Brallos Pass where they were climbing higher. Brigadier Herring ordered that two guns be put in position "on the forward slope of the escarpment. They would be able to fire over and command the wreckage of the bridge that had been demolished. The guns were put 15feet apart on what amounted to a ledge. This was an area held by the 2/4th Battalion. They had a captured Italian Breda "machine gun" used in an anti-aircraft role. 

"It was at about 6pm on 21 April that they noticed German vehicles heading south from Lamia. The guns that had been put in position opened fire and hit the first German vehicle. The following vehicles turned around and headed back towards Lamia. 

The Australian gunners and observers watched many vehicles moving south into Lamia. There seem to have been hundreds of vehicles driving into Lamia. 

Early on 22 April, what seemed to have been German medium guns started firing at the 25pdrs on the escarpment. They seem to have only fired when the 25pdr guns were firing at the moving vehicles. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Greece had problems

 By 1940 to 1941, Greece was politically unstable while there aspects of Greek society that were degrading their ability to resist the German attack. The Greek Royal family were German. The Greek civilian government had fallen and had been replaced by a dictatorship. General Metaxis may have been more competent than the civilian government. 

Greece had this problem that there was a segment of society that seems to have been infected with bad ideas as well as what seems like corruption. This caused problems with armies either disintegrating or surrendering. These problems were happening in April 1941 and later. 

General Metaxis was in poor health, so when he died, they were left to cobble together a new government. You had the British theater commander, General Wavell, as well as Churchill's appointee, General Wilson. It seems that Wavell was a much better commander than Wilson. 

You also had British political instability, at least iin Australia, where Churchill's misadventures in 1940 and 1941 brought down governments in Australia, where they ended up with a Labour government, although as good a one as you could hope for.

You had been through the fall of  France and Dunkirk in 1941. They eventually removed General Dill as CIGS. Alan Brooke eventually became CIGS. He eventually saw his role as keeping Churchill from causing trouble. 

The British attempt to aid Greece

 Before the British went in to Greece, British senior officers said that the move into Greece was a bad idea. The problem with the Greek operation was that it was strictly a political demonstration. The only senior official who wanted the Greek operation was Churchill's rather young foreign secretary, Anthony Eden. Anthony Eden is also known for being Prime Minister during the Suez crisis. President Eisenhower acted to stop the British, French, and Israeli effort. 

Eisenhower seems to have been anti-colonialist as well as anti-Israelist. We also suspected Eisenhower of being anti-Jewish. While we  are not admirers of the Kennedy's, they had a view of the world and events that were more aligned with modern views than Eisenhower. We say things like that knowing that we are not experts on the topic. 

The opinions given before the event were proved by the results that were seen. The military result was of little value, Men and units were lost as well as tanks, guns, and transport. The lost material was left in Greece. We believe that the Germans ended up with much of what was left in Greece 

The British tanks that were lost were mostly due to poor design. The metal tracks proved to be very fragile. What Robert Crisp wrote in Brazen Chariots describes that problems that were present in the British tank equipment. You might be led to believe that British tanks were largely useful for providing shelter to Greek refugees in the mountains. 

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Thinking about the withdrawal from Greece

 General Wavell let General Wilson set the date for the start of the withdrawal from Greece. By lateon 20 Aoril, the men "in the field" had not heard about the planned withdrawal. Generals Freyberg and Mackay still expected that they would stand and fight, with "no more withdrawals" Mackay expected to be overwhelmed by the Germans. 

There had been a "roadside meeting" near Thebes. This was during the night of 21 April. Blamey drove to Levadia, getting there "before dawn on 22 April". General Mackay and his senior officers arrived aat Blamey's headquarters by about 8am. 

Wilson had not issued a detailed order about the withdrawal until early on 23 April. Wilson had some forces in the Athens area that he could use, if needed, to actually fight. 

As this was happening, there was a brisk artilley fight happening along the total front. The weather was clear and they could see German vehicles moving. The British realized that the "Germans were not ready to attack". British observers sitting up high could see the German vehicles driving south into Lamia. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

21 April and later in Greece

 Back on 20 April, the men in the field had not heard anything about a pendin withdrawal from Greece. General Wavell drove up to Blamey's headquarters at about 2am on 21 April. They learned that the Greeks had surrendered and that the British were going to be loaded onto ships to leave. Wavell eventually gave General Wilson a written order to withdraw using the prepared plan. He would cooperate with the navy. 

They might end up "embark some Greek troops". 

British troops would carry as much equipment that they could. British troops should not surrender but should try to travel into the Greek islands, where they might eventually be rescued. The plan might end up failing so that British troops might need to implement the option to travel into the Greek islands. One of the backup plans was to rescue British troops from the islands.  

They would embark men from the island beaches or ports. They would plan on evacuating not just troops, but also guns and transport from the islands. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Inaccurate maps

 The situation on 21 April left the units sitting on very rough territory. They also found roads on maps that were incomplete. They also found roads that were missing from the maps they had. There was also reason to think that the enemy forces were low in strength. 

The left seemed to be vulnerable to attack. 

The Australians were  also found to be in a greatly reduced state. 

New Zealand division was found to be vulnerable to shells fired from across the strait.

The New Zealand artillery were poorly positioned. 

Thebes had a plain that seemed to be perfect for landing German paratroops.

They would land in the rear of the British forces which would leave them in an inconvenient position.

The New Zealand force was left with little in the way of men and carriers to respond to attacks.

The left seemed vulnerable to attack from Epirus and the Dephi Pass.

They received news that the Adolph Hitler division was now at Yannina. They had also heard that the Greek army of Epirus had surrendered. "The area of the Gulf of Corinth seemed to be open". This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Friday, December 03, 2021

More moves on 21 April and before

 On 21 April, Brigadier Savige got new guidance. He was to have the 2/11th Battalion replace the 2/5th. This would be in rough country on the right of the 19th Brigade. Savige would need to guard roads and tracks from the mountains "to the west". They would also be in position "to cover" the Lamia Brallos road.

Brigadier Savige was to take responsibility for defending the "left flank". By the time of dusk, Savige received an order from "Rowell". Would get "part of Vasey's left flank". He would also get responsibility for "covering the gorge". The railroad line ran through the gorge". 

He also now needed to be concerned with the "high ground to the west". He was also to "refuse  his left flank". He had now inherited some six miles of front to defend. 

After a conference with Wilson, Blamey, and Baillie-Grohman near Thebes, Mackay, Sutherland, and Colonel Prior, Blamey created and outline of a plan to distribute to officers who needed to know. The objective now was to get into position to withdraw from  Greece. The forces were reorganized with Anzac Corps, 80 Base Sub-area, 82 Base Sub-area and other units reporting directly to Wilson. The situation was not very tense and difficult. They were trying to keep some units available if they actually needed to fight. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Amazon Ad