Thursday, December 29, 2022

Crete is considered lost

 In response to the attack on the Petrol Company, decided to counter attack with everything he had. Kippenberger planned to join the attack with a small group from the left. At that moment, a small group of Greek soldiers and civilians from near Galatas ran at the Germans all the while yelling "like Red Indians". They were about one hundread men. Their commander was Captain Michael Forrrester "of the Queens". Thw scared Germans broke and ran. 

That afternoon, Freberg ordered the mn to make another attack against the air field at Maleme. Before that happened, the Germans moved against the 10th Brigade. Puttick was informed that a German force was on the coast road between the 4th and 5th Brigades. Freyberg's representative Stewart attended a meeting with Puttick. They decided to send the 5th Brigade back to the line by the Wadi Platanias. They were to abandon all of the ground that they had held for about 2-1/2 miles to the west. The decision was made at about 10pm on 22 May. That would let the Germans use the air field at Maleme without opposition. 

Hargest's brigade major reached the 23rd Battalion arrived before dawn on 23 May. The battalion with drew early on 23 May. The 28th Battalion acted as their rearguard. The last men left by 6:30am. 

There were now no Germans in the Canae-Suda area except for small groups in the Akrotiri Peninsula. The 1/Welch took some of them prisoner. a force including the 2nd Greek Regiment and the Australian 2/8th Battalion moved up to a line "on a wadi about a thousand yards west of Mournies."

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A false impression on 22 May

 At Hargest's 5th Brigade headquarters, they misunderstood what was happening. They saw men running towards the landing aircraft. They also noticed 11 fires. To get a better idea of what was happening,

Puttick ordered Kippenberger to send out patrols. The patrols met strong German resistance, which was an indication that the German were not abandoning Crete. 

Kippenberger sent the 19th Battalion south on the Suda Bay-Prison road. They were going towards a Turkish fort on on of three hills. They attacked at 3pm. 

The German defense was strong. The two attacking companies pulled back in the early evening. The Germans attacked at about 7pm. They were attacking on a 700 yard front. The Germans were moving towards Galatas. They were attacking the petrol company.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Continuing on 22 May 1941

 As noted, the Maoris were looking in two directions. The left was facing west. They were looking back at the 21st Battalion. Others of them were facing north towardsthe 23rd Battalion. Some Australiam maching gunners got in trouble. They were a platoon of the 2/1st Machine gun Battalion. They moved forward to the 5th Brigade in the evening. They ran into attacking Germans who took the took the lot. 

For all of the 22nd, the 28th was pushing both to the west and to the north. Dittmer checked with the commanders of the 22nd and 23rd Battalions. Hesent a message to Hargest giving his status. The attacks towards Maleme had not taken any important territory. Even if the Maoris and the 20th Battalion had started sooner. 

The Germans had brought in two brigades and part ofanother into the Maleme and Suda Bay area. The Germans had taken losses, but so had the defenders. Both sides had trained infantry. The result might have depended on supplies. Freyberg was worried about the supply situation. The Germans were able to fly in supplies to the air field.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

More fighting on 22 May in Crete.

 The Maoris were now the key to the fight. Thee was now daylight. The 20th Battalion was now on the right.They had fought to reach land that had been cleared close to the air field. Their rightmost company was driven back by heavy fire. They ended up in bamboo.  The sky was light. The meb took heavy fire form forces on the ground and from air craft, The commander of the 20th Battalion decided that they shouuld move behind the Maorris. If the Maoris could take the airfield, the 20th Battalion could move onto the high ground to the south of the air field. 

The 21st Battalion had taken Hill 107 which had the wireless station. The attackers moved forward at 7am. They took the wireless station by 8:30am. They also got Xamoud-hokhori. They were unable to advance further. The main attack on the road was stopped. Due to the enemy strength, thecompanies were forced back. The fotces on the right were forced back. While the 20th Battalion pulled back Gernman transport aircraft were landing on the air field, As they landed men jumped out and started fighting. The 20th Battalion eventually moved across the road and ended up behind the Maoris.

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


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

2/7th Battalion "on the move"

 Major Marshall met Lt. Lunn at Suda. He hoped that the rear companies would be brought forward. Marshall kept driving with the two lead companies. The first part of the column seems to have left Georgioupolis at about  or 6pm. The back end of the column was E Company, the headquarters company. They were serving as a rifle company. They left Georgioupolis zt about 8pm. This was when the leading elements of the column reached the 20th Battalion. The 20th Battalion relief was completed by about 11:30pm. 

Brigadier Hargest arrived at Platanias village a little before midnight on 21 May. He was waiting for the attackers to arrive. The Maoris had arrived at 11:30pm. The first units from the 20th battalion only arrived at 2:45am. The attackers only started moving at 3:30am. Two companies from the 20th Battalion were on the right. The Maoris were on the left. The had arrived early and had to wait for almost four hours. 

The 20th Battalion were soon fighting on their whole front. The German defence toughened as they got near the airfield. While it was dark the Maoris made good progress. Tanks were on yhe road following the infantry. 

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The 2/7th Battalion and the new plan

 When the 2/7th commander, Lt-Col Walker learned of the "New Plan", he was unhappy. He visited the division commander Brigadier Inglis. Inglis told Walker that if his battalion was "well-trained", they should be able to execute the new plan in an hour. The 2/7th second in command had gotten orders from Vasey to move as close to pm as possible. 

Transport arrived in pieces from many different sources. The drivers were all afraid of bombing. They all felt that their trucks were targets. As men were loaded on the trucks, The drivers were hiding away from the trucks. There had been planes around in the afternoon. As they finished loading, planes had noticed the trucks. Planes went after a supply dump as well as the trucks. Every one except D company were ready. The D Company drivers were just arriving. They got moving despite the planes. They had learned in Greece that they should just start driving in spite of an air attack. They sped down the road and drove past the food dump. As they turned at a corner, they noticed planes ready to attack Walker raced down the road and hoped the other trucks were following him. 

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Counter-attack on 21 May 1941

 An attack was planed for the night by an Australian battalion that was to come from Georgioupolis. They were to travel 18 miles to fight. The Australians had not seen action during the first two days of the German attack on Crete, The Australians were the 80 men of the 2/7th Battalion. They had fought at Bardia. They were at Mersa Brega in February and March. They had been attacked from the air essentially every day. They had greater experience of German air attack tan any other unit in Crete. 

Brigadier Vasey informed the battalion commander, Lt-Col. Walker that they were to "clear the road to Retimp. After that, they would helt the New Zealanders near Maleme. There was a meeting at Freyberg's headquarters where Brigadier Vasey was told of a new plan where the 2/7th Battalion was that night to relieve the 20th New ZEaland Battalion so that they could attack in the direction of Maleme. That left Vasey without any combat troops. He did have two battalions at Retimo, where they were cut off.

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Fighting for Maleme on 22 May 1941

 The Germans moved into action from dawn on 22 May. They captured Hill 107, pushed over the airfield, and fomed a line on the eastern edge. They attacked and took Maleme and Pirgos. New Zealand forces had pulled out from those places the "night before". The German commander had expected to be attacked "in the prisom valley". When two parachute companies had "jumped in", they took heavy losses, but one group took ground in the farm near the beach. A sea invasion had been in the plans, but it did not happen because British warships being present. They tried again at midday but were scattered. 

On 22 May, the Germans planned that the assault regiment would hold its ground. They planned to fly in more  mountain troops.. They would mounta sweeping attack "trough the hills"The th Mountain Dision commander was to command the battle for Crete. The orders were to clear Crete of the enemy from West to East. The mountain division diarist described the situation as being "balanced on a knife edge". A mountain battalion had landed taking only light casualties. A strong British attack would force the Germans into a fierce fight. 

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

More action from 21 to 22 May 1941

 The Germans in the Prison Valley stayed in position for all of 21 May. They had expected a British counter attack, but there was not one. The paratroops who jumped into the area near Platanias, they took heavy losses. 80 men, though, took a farm that was near the beach. This was near Pirgos. 

The group of small ships was transporting a mountain battalion, an antiaircraft regiment, and groups with heavy weapons. They turned back because of the British warships. They made another attempt at midday. They encountered British warships again, and scattered with heavy losses. A relatively small number of ships were lost. Italian motor boatsand destroyers were able to rescue many men. 

On 22 May the Germans in the assault regiment were to hold their ground. The mountain troops would assist in holding the air field. The Germans planned to bring in more mountain troops during the day. They were to make an attack "through the hills". The general commanding the mountain troops was put in command of all German troops on Crete. He was to "clear the island from west to east". 

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

Monday, November 21, 2022

Cemeterry Hill and 21-22 May 1941

 The events of 21 May were relativeey favorable. At Retimo, the Australian 2/1st Battalion had captured the high ground southeast of the air field. The Germans were sitting on the road West to Canea and east to Heraklion. 

The Germans at one point had taken the harbor at Heraklion. It was eventually recaptured by the "British". The British were able to hold the airfields at Retimo and Heraklion. 

British ships were in position south of Crete on 21 May. They hoped to be able to conduct sweeps north of Crete. The Germans bombed one group of ships and sank the destroyer Juno.  i n another group of ships the cruiser Ajax was bombed and damaged. Small German ships were seen sailing towards Crete. They were attacked sinking or damaging some of the ships. An Italion destroyer Lupo was damaged.

General Student decided to drop his last two parachute companies east of Pirgos. The assault regiment would attack to the east. Air power would bomb the artillery that was firing on the field. Mountain troops would be brought in after 4pm. Some 20 transport aircraft were lost in the process. 

By morning German troops had crossed the airfield and had a line in position at the eastern edge. They attacked and took Maleme and Pirgos. 

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

More action from 21 May 1941

 Early on 21 May unarmed men were moving to the east, moving through the New Zealand battalions. Some o the men wereRoyal Air Force some were anti-aircraft gunners without guns. Others were from Royal Marine artillery. During 21 May the 5th New Zealand Brigade was under attack from the air. German ground forces were also pressing the brigade. The mortars and machine guns kept firing on German aircraft until they ran out of ammunition. In a meeting at the 23rd Battalion headquarters, they decided that the 23rd Battalion should attack with the goal being to recapture lost ground. 

German transport aircraft were now able to land, unload and take off from Maleme. They were able to do that while under artillery and machine gun fire. After a while, transport aircraft were landing and taking off from the west end of the field at Maleme. By 4pm there was a steady traffic of transport aircraft arriving at Maleme. They had not taken secure control of the airfield. To the east, New Zealanf forces were in a stronger position. At about 3:40pm, many German paratroops had landed near the Maori battalion. The Maori's were able to clear most of the paratroops, except near the New Zealand engineers.

Thisis based on theaccount in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The situation on Crete from 21 May 1941

 By the morning of 21 May, General Freyberg was infirmed about the situation that the 22nd Battalion found itself. He was told that their machine guns and artillery kept the Germans from using the air field. The truth was that more German para troops were landing and that German transport aircraft were landing in the river bed and on beaches on the west of the area. The areawas also under dive bombing attack. 

New Zealand Division intelligence recognized that two German regiments had landed at Maleme and to thesouth of Galatas. The Germans were moving east. The division commander thought that the needed to recapture the air field Maleme. The process of retaking theair field was moving very slowly. A meeting was held at the 23rd Battalion headquarters. They decided that the 23rd  Battalion should hold its ground. The remnants of the22nd Battalion should pull back withthe21st and 23rd Battalions and reorganize. By dawn, the 22nd Battalion was aligned with the21st and 23rd Battalions and the were situated to provide fire to cover the air field. 

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The fight near the prison

 The II/3rd Battalion had come down between the reservoir and the prison. They were also between the prison and Galatas. They were fighting with the 10th New Zealand Brigade. The German pioneers were on high ground to the north of Alikianon. They took the power station and were involved with fighting Greek soldiers from the 8th Regiment. 

Colonel Heidrich landed by the prison at 9am. He had almost three battalions under his command. They occupied an area near Alikianon Prison, and Perivolia. Troops high up near Galatas kept the Germans under fire. Colonel Heidrich sent a company to attack the heights. He added another company, so that they captured the heights. In some confusion, the heights were abandoned. They finally formed a front defending against Galatas. "During the night, Heidrich had the pioneers arrived at the prison. Heidrich had what remained of his regiment formed a front "from the heights west of Perivolia to the Alikianon area on the left." Colonel Heirich believed that his remaining force was strong enough to survive being counter-attacked the next day.

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Generals on 20 May 1941

 The IV Battalion was to land west of the bridge at Tavronitis. One company was to go across to Selino Kastelli. They had to fight to move southward. The rest of the battalion was to move to the east to help the glider-borne soldiers. General Meindl had landed about 8:30am. The glider troops were engaged in heavy fighting. By then, the General had most of two battalions under his command. He could see strong defenses about the airfield. The general hsd four companies attack across the bridge. Two more companies made a flanking attack to the south. General Meindl was badly wounded. Major Stenzler took command at the front. At the evening, the Regiment had captured the west side of the airfield and the center of the 22nd New Zealand Battalion on Hill 107. Some German companies sat on the south-east side of Hill 107. 

General Sussman was part of the group that was to land near Canea-Suda Bay. The general's glider crashed on the island Aegina near Athens. Everyone including the general was killed. That left Colonel Heidrich in command of the division. The 1/3rd battalion landed by the prison. They re-grouped and took the heights. They reached Perivolia.

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

Thursday, November 03, 2022

The initial attack, how they did

 The Weat Group gliders landed according to plan. They were able to capture a camp of tents. They were able capture anti-aircraft guns "at the mouth of the Tavronitis" and captured the bridge over the river. The plan had been for the III Battalion to land along the road from Maleme to Plantanias. After landing the plan had been to capture the airfield facing west. 

Because the aircraft crews were concerned that the men might have dropped the men into the sea. The men were actually dropped south of the road. Many men were shot in the air, as they dropped. Some were caught in trees or were shot on the ground. All the officers were killed or wounded. The battalion had 600 men, but only 200 survived. 

The IV Battalion was supposed to land west of the bridge over the Tavronitis. The 16th Company was planned to move across the island. The goal was to arrive at Selino Kastelli. The company found itself fighting Greek guerillas. The rest were to attack to the east, hoping to help "glider troops". 

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

More German plans as of 20 May 1941 at Crete

 As we mentioned the 7th Air Division and the assault regiment would be drpped. They hoped that there would airfields captured so that troops from the th Mountain Division could be landed from transport planes. More of the mountain division would be brought by sea. that all would give70 men landed from gliders, and 10,000 by parachute. 000 men would be flown in by transport aircraft. The plan was to bring in some 7,000 men on ships. 

There were to be somewhere between 70or 80 gliders. They expected to have 600 t0 70 Ju-2 transport aircraft. The transports would bring in five thousand to six thousand men with equipment in one trip. Air support would include 430 dive bombers, 180 fighter aircraft, with about 40 reconnaissance aircraft. The British knew of these numbers but did not believe that the numbers were accurate. In fact, the estimates proved to be good.

The attackers would be divided into west, center and east groups. The western group was to capture Maleme air field and hold it so that it could be used to land transport aircraft. They were also supposed to scout to te west.This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

More German plans for Crete

 Since four simultaneous attacks by air were not possible, General Student thought that they could attack Maleme and Canea in the morning while they would attack Retimo and Heraklion in the afternoon. The plan also included an attack by sea. The Germans took 63 small vessels and seven merchant ships. Admiral Schuster would be in command. They would bring more some heavy weapons, than an infantry battalion, pack animals with supplies. On the first day, they would land on beaches to the west of Maleme. On the second day, more would land east of Heraklion. There was concern about the British navy so they decided to land both groups the second day. 

General Student with the XI Air Corps had paratroops and assault troops in gliders. The aircraft were transports. There were four battalions of assault troops. With the paratroops there were three regiments, each having three battalions. They also had an artillery company and an anti-tank company. At the division level, they had an artillery battery, and battalions of anti-tank guns, machine guns, and pioneers. 

The corps had the 5th Mountain division and a tank battalion. The mountain division eventually won the battle for Crete. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete and Syria by Gavin Long".

Monday, October 24, 2022

Plans for attacking Crete

 While the Germans were focused on an airborne attack on Crete, Admiral Cunningham had gotten ready to stop an attack from the sea. Three places seemed most likely. They were Canea Retimo, ad Heraklion. He thought that Kisamos Bay as well as Sitia might be used. Admiral Cunningham created three groups of cruisers and destroyers. He ordered two battleships and five destroyers to be west from Crete to protect the light ships. AS a backup, he had the aircraft carrier Formidable and two battleships at Alexandria. 

Over the night of20 to 21 May, they saw some six Italian motor torpedo boats in thr Kaso Straight. Two cruisers and four destroyers fired on the Italians and damaged four boats. 

They eventually learned about the plan to capture Crete with an airborne force. The original proposal was made by General Lohr on 1 April. The convinced Hitler that they could make an airborne attack work. GeneralLohr would be in command. They would have The XI Air Corps with glders and para troops. They also had a purely aviation formation,  the VIII Air Corps. General Student wanted to make four attacks but General Richthofen would not be able to provide air cover for four attacks. 

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

From 20 May 1941 on Crete

 In the action to the South of Canea, after Germans had captured ant-aircraft guns, the 1/Rangers along with carriers from the 1/Welch took action. Two platoons of Royal Marines arrived along with Greeks from the 2nd Regiment. With that force they were able to recapture the guns that had been lost. By the night only small groups of Germans remained. 

Durig the late afternoon, the 2/8th Battalion of Australians arrived after travaeling from Georgioupolis. They were to hold a position some 2,000 yards wide to the west of Mournies. The right was held by the Perivolians. The left had the 2/2nd Field Regiment who were also Australians. The 2nd Greek Regiment were in position adding to the line being held. This narrative will only discuss what General Freyberg knew about "at the time". 

Retimo and Heraklion were attacked during the late afternoon on 20 May. At Retimo, most paratroops were dealt with, except for a stron group on a ridge commanding the air field on the southeast. At Heraklion, all para troops were dealt with, except for groups of snipers. Still there was heavy fightig in the town. Communications were so that Freyberg was not well-informed.

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

Monday, October 17, 2022

Freyberg gets involved

 The communication problems meant that initially, General Freyberg was unaware of events. By 11am, Freyberg thought that Maleme was the most critical point. Because of that perception, the4th Brigade, except for one battalion was allocated to the division. Reports in thelateafternoon that the Germans were clearing a landing field  made the 4th Brigade seem more important. Kippenberger suggested that they should attack the prison. The attack started at 7:15pm. Kippenberger withdrew his support of the attack. By yhe morning the attackers were ordered to withdraw. 

During the night of 20 May, While the Germans held par of the Maleme airfield, British guns still covered the airfield. The Germans held some threatening positions. Because of an attack the Greek King were forced to withdraw to the hills. Some para troops had descended into the garden at the King's house. 

1 gliders were launched towards the Akrotiri Peninsula. Four of these went into the sea and others were shot down. Most of the survivors were killed or captured. More giders landed to the south of Canea. Some anti-aircrft guns were captured, but were later recaptured.

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

Monday, October 10, 2022

Germans making progress

 The New Zealand cavalry moved into the area east of Galatas and were part of a line that included the Petrol Company along with the 19th Battalion. You had the 8th Greek Regiment in the foothills. They were cut off, but were fighting well. The Germans now seemed to be holding the prison and appeared to be making a landing ground. 

There was fresh activity near the4th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Inglis. They were east from the 10th Brigade. The New Zealand Division headquarters was in this area. German paratroops had landed near the Karatsos village. They were also landing in the vineyards "north of the coast road. They had captured the 7th General Hospital. Brigadier Inglis ordered a company from the 18th Battalion to retake the hospital, which they were able to do. The nearby 6th Field Ambulance was captured by paratroops who shot the commander. 

Communication was poor with phone lines broken and wireless communications not workin very well. That meant that General Freberg was unaware of much that had happened. 

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

Sunday, October 09, 2022

The Germans take the Maleme airfield

 After the initial bombing, German paratroops and gliders landed in the 10th Brigade. Near Galatas and the prison, attacked by some 1,500 men. Colonel Kippenberger was going to use a "small house" as his headquarters, but he had to shoot and kill a German sniper who was in the house. 

The Greek 6th Regiment ran out of ammunition after a short time. About 400 Greek soldiers pulled back to Galatas, where Captain Forrester, an officer with the Queens,  intervened and had the Greeks holding a line with the 19th Battalion and the Composite Battalion. 

The Germans were pushing along the Prison-Galatas road. The New Zealand cavalry and the 8th Greek Regiment were out of touch". The attackers pushed into the left end of the Composite Battalion and Kippenberger's 10th Brigade headquarters. They were able to take the Germans at Galatas as prisoners by "midday". 

At 4pm, the Germans launched an attack along the prison-Galatas road, which was pushed back. Right after this, the cavalry arrived at Galatas. They had been out of touch, north oh thr resevoir.

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

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

The second day of the attack

 The 5th New Zealand Brigade had four battalions. The 22nd Battalion had been in the "most important ground". The 22nd Battalion had taken serious losses and had mostly withdrawn. There were ony small groups of men left near the air field. At this point, the entire brigade had not launched a counter-attack, Because of the numbers of German aircraft overhead and because of unreliable communications, meant that it was not possible to organize a counter-attack. 

 To the east, the 10th Brigade, commanded by Colonel howard Kippenberger was defending a wide front. That front reached into the foothills that were to the west of Canae. The Composite Battalion defended an area extending from the coast to the foothills. They were protecting a line that was some 3,200 yards wide. In the south were the 6th and 8th Greek Regiments. With them were the New Zealand Division Cavalry, although the were reduced to fighting as infantry. The Greek regiments and the cavalry reached quite far into the foothills in the south-west. the Composite Battalion were al gunners and drivers that were not trained as infantry, although the needed to do as best they could. the 2,400 Greeks soldiers were raw recruits not well-armed and lacked training. 

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Checking on the 22nd Battalion

 When the 23rd Battalion tried to "get in touch with" the 22nd Battalion, they were unsuccessful. Two companies were sent to help the 22nd Battalion, One comany was sent from the 23rd Battalion and another was sent from the 28th (Maori) Battalion. The Maori company had a fight with some Germans and killed about thirty. The 23rd Battalion provided cover for the22nd Battalion  The Maori company found where the 22nd Battalion headquarters has been located, although it had been abandoned. When the Maori company pulled back, they encountered the remains of one 22nd Battalion companies with Lt-Col. Andrew. The time was about 2am. 

The 21st Battalion had been given some options. They could replace the 23rd Battalion if that battalion tried to help the 22nd Battalion. They could also just hold theie ground, which is what their commander decided to do. Allen sent men to clear Xamoudhokhori and Vlakheronitissa. They clearedthe first but the second was too strong. 

New Zealand engineers were grouped into an improvised infantry unit, the N.Z.E. detachment. There was also an improvised artillery unit, the 27th Battery. They had "two English" 3.7in howitzers, three Italian 75mm guns. and four French 75mm guns. Para troops who landed near the engineers and the guns "were mopped up".

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

More action as the fight at Maleme progressed

 Lt-Col Andrew, the 22nd Battalion commander, had been awarded a Victoria's Cross in 1917. had two infantry tanks available and decided to use them. on one tank, the crew found that he gun did not work. The second tank drove to the "river flat" where the crew abandoned the tank. 

At 9pm, the Germans had some control of the western edge of the airfield as well as an another area. They also had taken hill 107 that overlooked the airfield. At this point, Lt-Col Andrew decided to withdraw the 22nd Battalion to the rear company. They would be located to the east of two ridges. By doing this, the 22nd Battalion was evacuating from a strip of land that was about a thousand yards wide "east of the Tavronitis". By dawn the next day, the remnants of the 22nd Battalion along with gunners and air force personnel were in groups moving to the east. 

East of the 22nd Battalion was the 23rd Battalion. They looked down on the main road. The 21st Battalion looked down on the 23rd Battalion. Gliders and para troops had landed in the 23rd Battalion, but they "were soon killed or dispersed". They estimated that they had killed some 400 Germans in the air or on the ground. They continued to control their area and their machine guns and mortars were firing at the beaches and the east side of the airfield.

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

Monday, September 26, 2022

More of the 22nd Battalion fight

 Part of a rifle company from the 22nd Battalion was in place, defending the airfield at Maleme. The platoon on the far left. They had to hold a line that was 1,400 yards long. fourteen German gliders landed on that line followed by German Para troops.  The anti-aircraft gun crews were overcome. The platoon fought on until the middle of the afternoon. By dusk, the platoon commander was wounded as were the last of his men. The survivors were captured. 

The other units in the 22nd Battalion were holding on "at the eastern side of the airfield and the slopes on the south side of the main road". The main road was on the south side of the airfield. There were small enemy groups between, to companies and between the 22nd Battalion and the 21st Battalion. 

Paratroops had landed at Pirgos. They were "in the streets and on the flat roofs". The paratroops were not doing well. The men i the first to arrive were shot before they landed. THe second group suffered the same fate. There were only small groups of Para troops in the open drains and in the vineyards, trying to combine with others so thy could get organized. 

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The 22nd Battalion fight

 Some o the paratroops were to the southwest of Pirgos. The seem to have overrun a platoon of the headquarters company. The real concern was men who had landed out of the battalion, but that was all. 

A few had landed in the 22nd Battalion. They stopped runners involved in communications. 

The west riverbank was the center of the landing. About six gliders as well as twenty paratroops landed in Campbell's company. Most in the gliders were killed. The Germans who were on the west river bank crossed the bridge over the river. They went into the RAF "offices and camp." British non-combatants had to pull back towards the 22nd Battalion headquarters. 

Men from Campbell's right platoon were forced to fall back. That caused a gap to open between Campbell's company and Johnson's company. Campbell's men managed to hold. When Campbell realized that the battalion headquarters had withdrawn, he decided that he should also withdraw.The withdrawal started at 3am. The platoons moved separately. One platoon that was moving alongside the river ended up being captured. 

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

19 and 20 May 1941 on Crete

 British fighter strength on Crete was disappearing by 19 May 1941. That was when the enemy started the attack on Crete. A larger than normal number of German fighters and bombers hit the Suda Bay and Malema area. The airfield at Maleme was bombed, as was Canea and the anti-aircraft guns. They succeeded in destroying many anti-aircraft guns. Freyberg was observing the action and could hear transport aircraft and could see them flying in from the sea.

After the bombing had stopped, some 75 gliders were seen to have landed. Of these, perhaps 45 were to the west of the airfield. There were actually small groups of gliders. They were south and east of the airfield and were scattered between Suda and Maleme.

One effect of the bombing was that al signal wires fro the New Zealand Division headquarters were broken. The lines to Freyberg's headquarters were only repaired by 11am. The 22nd New Zealand Battalion was located at the air field. If the Germans could take the airfield, they would be able to land transport aircraft with soldiers.  Some 400 to 600 paratroops landed near the 22nd Battalion. There were also some gliders in the area defended by the battalion.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Ready for the attack on Crete

 Heavy bombing of Crete defenses commenced on 13 May 1941. Every night, British fighters flew to the airfield at Retimo to escape bombing of Maleme and Heraklion. British intelligence warned of an attack on Crete on 17, 18, or 19th May. There could be 25,000 to 35,000 by air and some ten thousand by sea. It was expected that the Germans would try to take Maleme, Canea, the valley to the south, and Retimo. It was thought that the initial strike would include one hundred bombers an fighters followed by 600 aircraft "dropping waves of paratroops. 

All the soldiers on the island were ready for the invasion, but the ant-aircraft guns were in almsot constant action. The aircraft were concentrating on the ships in Suda Bay. Starting on 19 May, guns fired an umbrella of exploding shells over the pier where cargo was being unloaded. That plan was effective in protecting ships and the jetty. 

The fact was that there were not enough guns to protect against heavy air attack. Retimo had no anti-aircraft guns. Heraklion had 4-3in guns and ten Bofors 40mm guns "initially". fortunately, up to 20 May, only 6 gunners were killed and 11 were wounded. All guns damaged up to 20 May were repairable.

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

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Retimo sector in May 1941

 The Australian Brigadier Vasey commanded the force defending Retimo. The priority was to protect the harbor nd the airfield. He also needed to prevent the Germans from landing in Georgioupolis Bay. This was some seven miles to the west. There were two Australian battalions at Retimo. Two more Australian battalions were at  Georgioupolis Bay. Heralion was defended by a larger force. The force consisted of four British battalions, one Australian battalion, along with three Greek battalions. 

Maleme had the New Zealand Division with Brigadier 

Puttick. That included the 5th Brigade with 3,156 soldiers. There was also the 10th Brigade. The 10th Brigade had 1,989 New Zealand soldiers, 2,498 Greek soldiers along with a group of 36 New Zealand soldiers. The New Zealand 20th Battalion was nominally in the 10th Brigade, but wasactually controlled by the New Zealand Division. They had 10-75mm guns and 6-3.7in howitzers along with two infantry tanks and ten light tanks. 

The 4th New Zealand Brigade was the "Force Reserve". They had 1,563 soldiers.

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

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Deployment plans for a larger force

 As we might expect, plans were made to defend the island. Near Maleme, they wanted to defend the airfield and the beach, which was quite long. The 5th New Zealand Brigade was positioned to protect Maleme and the beaches, which ere close. The 10th Brigade was set to hold a position that faced to the west and that sat on the"coastal plain". The 4th Brigade wasto the east of Galatas. They needed to be ready to move in whatever direction they were needed. 

To the west was a Greek regiment, the 1st. They had 1,030 recruits, with only 600 rifles, with a weak group of officers. They also had a New Zealand battalion aong with some New Zealand officers and NCO's. There were also 45 police and a good home guard unit with a mixture of weapons including shotguns.

General Weston had the Suda Bay-Canea defense force. They were to protect the harbor and base. To the east of "Duda Point" were some improvised Australian battalions and other improvised units.

They were to guard against paratroops and try to keep them from moving into the town. A group was also positioned on the Akrotiri Peninsula.

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

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Events in April to May 1941 involving Crete

 A ship policy was created as a result of air raids. They would only use fast ships that could arrive at night, unload, and be underway, out of danger by morning. That meant using cruisers and destroyers capable of 30 knot speed. They would arrive, ready to unload, by 11:30pm. They would leave by about 3am. 15 ships were used from 29 April to 20 May. The brought in 15,000 tons of "stores". 8 of the ships were sunk or damaged. This amount was not sufficient to meet the needs, but it was what was possible.

It seemed that holding Crete was not possible in the face if this scale of air attack. As of 19 May, Suda Bay had 13 damaged ships. Aport in the south of Crete would have helped, but the absence of unloading equipment and lack of roads precluded the use of southern ports.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Division was increased. A 10th Brigade was added. Howard Kippenberger was appointed as 10th Brigade commander. Brigadier Inglis became the 4th Brigade commander.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Weapons sent to Crete

 Because of the artillery shortage, some artillery units were armed as infantry. General Freyberg wrote about the situation. There seem to have bee, one hundred guns sent to Crete. Fewer than that arrived at Crete. Others arrived without essential items, such as sights, ammunition, some ammunition without fuses. The gunners were a variety of men  There were regular British army, Australians or men from New Zealand. There were many clever men. In one case, a man made a sight from wood and chewing gum. Other men made charts that let them "shoot without sights or instruments."  There were no complaints and everyone got involved. Of the Italian guns, some were 75mm and others were 100mm. Of the rifles and machine guns, there were American, Italian, and British. 

While all this was being done, the soldiers were constantly attacked from the air. That included ships in Suda Bay, which had started prior to the Greek withdrawal. The unloading of ships was so dangerous, that they started using volunteers. They only stopped when the ship being unloaded was being attacked. In one case, a partially sunk ship had Bren carriers on deck that were unloaded.

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

Artillery available in May 1941

 The divisions in Greece had "lost their guns". There had been three British field and medium regiments that had also left their guns. The guns had pretty much all had been disaled when they ere left. The Britsh had always been short of guns. That meant that although there were many infantry battalions in Egypt and Palestine they could be incorporated into divisions due to the artillery shortage.

The Australians had the benefit of a considerable number of "trained" artillery regiments. The 9th Australian Division had three field regiments. One regiment was in Tobruk. The other two were in Egypt "in reserve". The 7th Australian Division also had three field regiments. There were two regiments designated as Australian corps artillery, but they had no guns.

AS of 20 May, the Australian field regiments located in Egypt had guns.. There were 36 new 25pdr guns, 59 18pdrs of varying conditions. There were also 24 4.5in howitzers. By May 31, the Australian field regiments had 60 25pdrs. They might have sent them to Crete, but they did not. Some 49 French and Italian field guns were sent t Egypt. 

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Issues with Crete in May 1941

 One odd feature of the situation in Crete was that the Greeks had some 14,000 Italian prisoners captured in Albania. The Greeks were concerned that if the Italians were given to the British, they might violate international law. In the event, the Italians were still on Crete when the Germans attacked.

There were some small amounts of soldiers, equipment, and supplies arrived in Crete. As part of the naval base force, about 2,200 marines arrived. They had coast-defense artillery and anti-aircraft guns. Some 3.7in mountain guns and the artillery unit arrived. There were also 16 light tanks and 6 infantry tanks. Two infantry battalions arrived. They were intended to form a reserve at Retimo and Heraklion.

By 2 May, Wavell had mentioned that there was no field artillery in Crete, as all there had been had been left in Greece. General Blamey sent a message to the Australian government abut this situation. Churchill told the New Zealand prime minister that they would work to send equipment for theNew Zealand division. 

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

Monday, August 22, 2022

The RAF and The Greek king and government

 As well as the army there were men from the RAF who were not needed in Crete. The RAF presence in Crete included: 30 Squadron at Maleme with 12 Blenheim bombers, 33/80 Squadron at Maleme with 6 Hurricane fighters, 112 Squadron at Heraklion with 12 Gladiator biplane fighters, and 805 Fleet Air Arm Squadron at Maleme with six aircraft, including a mix of Gladiator biplane fighters and Fairy Fulmars.

The King of Greece and the Goverment were located at Canea, which was subjected to daily bombing. General Freyberg was concerned with their safety. Mr. Churchill liked having the King and Government in Crete because of the effect on the people of Greece and on neutral countries. The British government wanted the Greek King to stay as long as possible, although they were concerned with his safety.

General Freyberg negotiated with the King and government on 9 May. He agreed to leave the island with his government on 14 May. He prepared a message for the people of Greece that explained the reasoning. Despite that, the British sent a message telling Freyberg that the Greek King and Government should stay in Crete, even if the Germans attacked Crete. Freyberg disagreed, but told the King and the head of Government that they did not need to leave right then. 

Freyberg wanted to protect the King and Government, and had a platoon from the18th Battalion be guardians for the King and Government. Freyberg requested that the commanders in Cairo provide a ship or flying boat in readiness to evacuate the King and Government.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Plans for Crete in early May 1941

 There was some interest in having a Greek army in Crete. The Greek political situation meant that not much was possible. It is tempting to call the problem with officers "corruption" but that over-simplifies the situation. WE would just say that Greek society created challenges that kept there from being a Greek Crete force similar to what General Freyberg would have liked. 

The masses of unorganized Australia British and New Zealand troops would be dealt with by transporting men in ships that had brought supplies to Crete. They hoped to cut the sizes down to 4500 New Zealand 3500 Australian and British to 2000 men. Doing that would reduce the need for supplies by removing unproductive men from the island.

The truth was that so many ships had been lost in the withdrawal from Greece combined with German air attacks on Suda Bay that there was no way that all "unproductive men" could be removed from Crete. Some men were transported to Egypt. BY 17 May the men on Crete included "15,000 British 7750 New Zealand 6,500 Australian and 10,200 Greek troops.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Issues to deal with on Crete

 Brigadier Vasey was the highest ranking Australian officer on the island. There were too many unarmed men on Crete. Both General Freyberg and Brigadier Vasey wanted to transport the unarmed men to Egypt. Thee were too many unorganized unarmed and unequipped men. There seems to have been no interest by higher level authorities in dealing with this issue. The collapse in Greece seems to have created confusion and had left commanders at all levels feeling overwhelmed. 

The whole battle for Crete was very damaging. While we tend to think of Crete having been decided by airborne forces it was actually German mountain troops who won the battle. they were well-equipped and trained. The only British troops that approached the capability of German mountain troops were the best of the Australians. They proved themselves in the fighting in Syria in the mountains and fighting for the fortified positions.

The British contingent in Crete was primarily the 14th Brigade. You also had "four weak and improvised battalions from Rangers Northumberland Hussars 7th Medium Regiment and the 106th Royal Horse Artillery. There were also the base units coastal artillery and the anti-aircraft units.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What units were in Crete?

 One immediate problem was the lack of staffs. The New Zealand Division had Brigadier Puttick as commander. There was not good information about the units in Crete. The 14th Brigade with additional units of the "original garrison". There was the partial New Zealand Division. There were some Australian units withdrawn from Greece. There were also units from the 1st Armoured Brigade. There were some ten thousand mostly untrained new recruits from Crete. 

The New Zealand Division in Crete had two brigades and seven infantry battalions. There were also some division soldiers. The 6th New Zealand Brigade had been transported from Suda Bay to Egypt. 

There were some Australian units in Crete. The main unit was the18th Brigade fitted asa brigade group. There were 3-1/2 battalions in the brigade and a field regiment. More men arrived on destroyers. One Australian field regiment had been set with the4th New Zealand Brigade.

General Mackay and his staff seem to have been sent to Egypt. That meant that Brigadier Vaseywas the senior Australian officer in Crete. Brigadier Vasey had his brigade group and enough unorganized men for another brigade. This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Monday, August 08, 2022

Freyberg told General Wavell that the forces available could not hold Crete

 The British political situation was such that they did not want to hear what was true, that they did not have a strong enough force to hold Crete. Freyberg communicated this message to the government of New Zealand. We suspect that the real problem was Churchill. Wavel was a "team player" who could not tell Churchill that he could not do anything. This is the thinking that made the Greek operation a disaster, which lost Crete, and almost lost North Africa. 

General Wavell praised the New Zealand Division performance in Greece and told Freyberg that he expected an attack in a few days, and that he wanted Freberg to command the defense. Freyberg later wrote that he did not know about the Crete geography the "characteristics of the island" or the nature of the defending force. The commanders did not know a realistic assessment of the attacking force. 

To fix the problems, it took having Alan Brooke as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Bernard Law Montgomery as the 8th Army Commander. "Everyone hated Montgomery", but he could win battles. Alan Brooke was the one who recommended Montgomery to Churchill. This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

An airborne attack on Crete seems more likely

 Towards the end of April 1941 the Greek government was located at Canea in Crete. The Greek Prime Minister met with senior British officials. Greece had some 2,500 police, 7500 soldiers, and one thousands reserves. The men  were grouped into 11 battalions which were not well-equipped. The Greek government asked that a British general be in charge of defending Crete. The Greek government asked that the British arm the Greek defenders. 

In London, on 28 April, the Joint Intelligence Committee thought that the Germans had enough aircraft to put three or four thousand airborne soldiers on Crete for an initial attack. The Germans "were thought to be capable of conducting two or three sortees a day from Greece and three or for from Rhodes.

Churchill sent Wavell a message that they should expect quite soon an airborne attack on Crete. There were about 30,000 men from Greece on Crete. Wavell thought that there could be a surprise attack on Syria or Cyprus. 

Churchill liked Bernard Freyberg and wanted to put him in charge of defending Crete. Freyberg only arrived on Crete on 29April along with his staff and the 6th New Zealand Brigade. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The troops and aircraft at Crete

 At some time in May 1941, General Wilson came to Crete. That made him senior officer present and reporting to General Wavell. The Australian General was at Crete for a short time. He departed for Egypt on 29 April  believing that most of his division was in Egypt. 

Most of the 14th Brigade was near Suda Bay, although the 2/Black Watch was at Heraklion. There was a small group of military aircraft at Crete. There were four squadrons that had been in Greece. There were 6-8 Blenheims from Greece. There were also six Hurricanes. Another squadron had six Gladiators. One squadron from Egypt had nine Blenheims. There was also a Fleet Air Arm squadron at Maleme. 

General Wilson thought there was little chance of a German attack any time soon from both air and sea. 

Wilson thought that holding Crete was a commitment beyond what was possible with the forces currently available. There were problems with lack of equipment and the difficulties in supplying the island. The civilian population of Crete that was greater than 400,000 needed to be supplied with food. 

Supply ships would have to travel to unsuitable harbors on the north coast. 

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

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Responsibilities in April 1941

 The Australian historian puts the blame for lack of preparation on the higher commanders of which the most obvious man to blame was General Wavell. We would be tempted to blame the man at the top, Winston Churchill,

The lowest level commander General Weston, had very immediate issues to deal with. There were about 50,000 men who had been evacuated from Greece. They needed accommodated and fed. The first soldiers from Greece along with "civilian refugees" came to Crete starting on 23 April. Larger numbers arrived on Crete starting on 25 April. They often needed basic supplies, such as blankets and tents. Men were forced to sleep on the ground. They had their clothes and "great coats". The men were taken to areas in groves of olive trees. There was nothing for the men to do but rest. The men were used to drinking beer. The strong Greek wine was a problem. Combat units landed as complete organizations, had no tools to use to dig "field works". They had to use petrol tins for cooking. There was an intent on having new arrivals join other men from the same organization. 

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Crete became more important by early 1941

 From Decemder1940 until April 1941 there were many command changes for Crete. A maor decision was made on 1April to make Suda Bay a fleet base. Because of that decision "the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organization" was sent to Crete. In the event, only 2,000 of the8,000 men in the organization actually were in Crete, before the invasion. 

By late May 1941, Crete had16-3.7in, 16-3in, 36-40mm light AA, and 24 search lights. This waslessthan what the authorities thought was needed. Because of the collapse in Greece, Crete was the main strong point opposing the German advance in the Balkans. "Troops from Greece were being hastily landed". 

The thinking was that two brigades were needed in Crete and all units from Greece should  be sent to Egypt. The new Crete commander was making decisions, while General Wavell was independently making decisions about Crete. Wavell's staff thought that they needed three brigades in Crete. Theywanted to immediately send supplies for two brigades to Crete. 

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

British and Greek forceson Crete

 The island of Crete was not easily defended. There were three air fields,  located near thr towns. Suda Bay was the only port that could handle large ships. My ship anchored in Suda Bay in 1977. Ourship was a thousand-foot long aircraft carrier. 

In 1941, there was only one road for motor vehicles and it ran east-west and ran along the north shore. There were also five roads that ran north-south. 

The British had put forces on Crete in November 1940. There were two infantry battalions and many anti-aircraft guns, About the same time, the Greeks sent their division from Crete to fight in Albania. There had been a proposal to put an Australian brigade on Crete, but it didn't happen. There was a British commando unit temporarily located on Crete. Winston Churchill talked about hiring Crete citizens to expand and improve the air fields. 

In February 1941, the14th Brigade had three battalions. Greece, howeve, rhad pulled most of their soldiers from Crete..

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Events in April to May 1941

 The advance of Rommel's force in North Africa in early 1941 was a serious problem for the British. Mr. Churchill liked to be seen ordering actions. What he ordered necessarily were actions that he could understand. His first idea was to interfere with Rommel's supply line. He ordered the Mediterranean Fleet to make the hsrbor at Tripoli unusable. Atypical Churchill suggestion was to sink thebattleship Barham to block the harbor entrance. Instead, the fleet bombarded Tripoli. 

Churchill's next idea was to send a convoy with tanks through the Mediterranean Sea. The convoy sailed and arrived in Egypt. One ship with tanks was lost, but the rest arrived. This was the Tiger convoy. General Wavell anticipated Churchill and on 10 May ordered six infantry tanks and 15 light tanks sent to Crete. 

Crete is notable for a mountain range on the south coast that touches the sea. In the northare three flat areas used for agriculture.  One area is near Suda Bay and the  capital Canea in the west. Another area is some30 miles east of Canea at Retimo. In the east is Heraklion, a port and the largest town. 

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Iraq in May 1941

 The German effort in Iraq seemed to be greater than it actually was. The German air force was concentrated against Crete.  The Germans were only sending weaponsfrom Syria and using minimal air power. When the Germans tried to send an agent to Iraq who was to be in chargeof sending suppliesto Iraq, his plane was shot down by Iraqi antiaircraft fire and the agent was killed. A German major was sent to Damascus to look at airfields both in Syria and Iraq so that two German squadrons could be sent. 

After May 13, German aircraft operated from Erbil and Mosul. Eventually, some Italian aircraft took part. Operations included an attack on Habbabiyah. By 28 May, there were only one fighter and one bomber still operational.  The Iraqi's allied with Germany and Italy were angry at the meager support the had received. The French weapons sent from Syria were worthless to the Iraqi's. The Iraqi's especially needed gold to buy support, but the Germans did not send any gold. General Halder wrote on 30 May that due to lack of preparation and the German inability to provide "effective support", the Iraqi "show" would "peter out". The only good that cae of it for the Germans was that the British "were spread critically thin".

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

Monday, July 11, 2022

Disturbances in the Middle East fromApril 1941

 One piece of good news for the British was that the war in east Africa ended with the Italian surrender. That meant that units freed up could be moved north. The next issue was that Iraq would be destabilized. In response, the Germans would ship arms to Iraq. 

The Pie Minister hoped to arrest the regent. The regent escaped to Basra and then to Transjordan. In response, an Indian brigade was sent to Basra. General Auchinleck was the commander in India. He now was in charge of the forces sent to Iraq. The government in Iraq tried to forbid any mor units besent to Iraq as long as the brigade was in Basra. The British ignored that order and added more soldiers at Basra. 

The Iraqi government decided to make trouble at Habnaniya, an RAF training base. The Iraqi's laid siege to Habbaniya. The British were able do enough to put the Iraqi force on the defensive. As the situation heated up, General Wavell was put in charge of operations in Iraq. A force was brought to the H.4 pumping station. 

Eventually, the Iraqi's were pushed back to Baghdad. A friendly government was installed and the unfriendly elements were forced to go yo Persia. The whole 10th Indian Division was now at Basra. 

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

Monday, July 04, 2022

Events that would drive future action

 While the fighting was happening in Greece, Rommel's army was pushing to the east. This action kept any further units from being shipped to Greece. The 2nd Armoured Division lacked effective leadership. The division commander was captured at Mechili. The Indian motor brigade mostly broke out of Mechili and headed towards Tobruk. The armored brigade from the 2nd Armoured Division managed to reach Tobruk. The 9th Australian Division also reached the former Italian fortress at Tobruk.

The Australians were able to secure the perimeter at Tobruk and proceeded to onduct a tenacious defense. 

In the chaotic conditions following the German capture of Mechili, you had British Generals driving in the dark, unsure of where they were. Generals Philip Neame and Richard O'Connor made a wrong turn and drove into a German ambush, where they were captured. Previously, at Mechili, General Noel Beresford-Peirse had surrendered to the Germans during collapse of the defense. 

East of Tobruk, both Salum (or Sollum) and Halfaya Pass were occupied by Rommels forces. The Germans set up an eastward facing defensive position that included 88mm guns used in an anti-tank role, with 50mm PAK38 and 37mm anti-tank guns

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The larger picture in April 1941

 The Germans were seriously considering an airborne attack on the island of Crete. They had considered a purely seaborne attack on the island, but didn't think that the Italian navy was reliable enough for that to be an option. They had seen success with airborne troops in Holland and Corinth, so they were planning on an airborne attack. They had a relatively large airborne force, including Para troops and glider-borne soldiers. 

The British were aware that they could face an airborne attack on Crete. Staffs in both London and Cairo were planning for a defence of Crete from an airborne attack. The overall situation was so desperate that defending against an airborne attack on Crete did not get the attention that was needed.

There was a lot of action in Aril 1941. General Cunningham, the admiral's brother conducted a brilliant campaign in East Africa defeating the Italians and their colonial allies.  The 2nd Armored Division was defeated and the 9th Australian division was pushed back, eventually being isolated in Tobruk. The Germans captured three British generals, including Richard O'Connor, who had defeated the Italians and who had captured Cyrenaica. AS early as 11 April, the 9th Australian Division, one 7th Australian Division brigade, and the 3rd Armoured Brigade were defending the former Italian fortress at Tobruk. 

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The next fight was to be for control of the island Crete

 The island of Crete was a valuable prize. The Germans wanted to deny Crete as airbases within striking distance of Rumania. Crete was also well-located to allow interfering with sea traffic to Malta and to North Africa. 

Crete also seemed like an obvious location to use German airborne troops. On lesson learned was that the German airborne force was not a very effective fighting force. Instead German mountain troops were much more effective

Another issue was the rapid advance of a German mechanized force to the east. This force was under the command of General Rommel, who was an expert on infiltration as a means to break through and advance. Rommel learned the technique in the Alps against the Italians. Rommel was also an innovator in applying infiltration to mechanized warfare. Rommel was able to do some amazing things in North Africa against some rather mediocre British leadership. 

Infiltration tactics were the greatest innovation to come out of the Great War. The concept was tested against the Russians with considerable success. It also was tried in Western Europe by the Germans, but the Americans also adopted the ideas, at least on a small scale. Sergeant York's exploits were the best example.

Rommel's success caused the the 7th Australian Division and the Polish Carpathian Brigade to be kept in North Africa rather than being sent to Greece. 

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The British withdrawal from Greece in 1941

 British organizational failures were excused by blaming the Greeks. The Australian historian credits the Greek army with fighting well against the Italians and Germans. An example of General Wilson's failures was the delayed planning of the withdrawal and loading onto ships. A contributing factor was that Wilson had ordered two commanders and their staffs that could have helped "plan and control" the "withdrawal and embarkation of British soldiers". Base troops that should have been withdrawn were instead left in Greece. 

When there has been a failure of command there will be recriminations. That is what happened in Cairo after "the evacuation". The air force and army each blamed the other for the failure in Greece. There was also a tendency to blame German air attacks for failures. In fact, the German air force in Greece largely failed to be a major factor in the outcome. 

After the withdrawal from Greece, there was a discussion about British equipment quality. The opinion of the Australian historian was that British and German equipment quality was comparable. "British" infantry performed well, at times functioning as improvised mountain troops, performing creditably against specialist German mountain troops.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

British and Greek communications in 1941

 In early 1941, the British and Greek commanders did not trust each other. It also seems that the British and Greek commanders had problems communicating in that communications were often misunderstood. 

In early 1941 the British wanted to be able to cooperate with Yugoslavia and the Greeks agreed with this goal. 

General Papagos the Greek leader in early 1941 decided to hold Salonika at least until they had learned what the Yugoslav intentions were Salonika was the port that could be used to supply Yugoslavia. After the British commanders saw how the Greek army was deployed, they decided to hold a line along Olympus and the Vermion, as it seemed to be very defensible. 

Once the coup happened in Yugoslavia the British considered trying to defend Salonika. They gave up that idea after being unable to cooperate with the Yugoslavian army. 

Before the Greek campaign even started, the British commanders had no confidence in the Greek army. That was partly influenced by General Wilson's lack of understanding of the situation. He thought that the Greeks on the left had "disintegrated" when the real problem was to the right of the ANZAC Corps. 

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Communications and Politics involving Greece

The principal commanders involved n the Greek campaign decision-making were the GIGS, General Dill, General Wavell and Admiral Cunningham. They all had doubts about undertaking the campaign but understood that te politicians thought that the right thing to do was to support Greece. The Prime Minister,  Mr. Churchill, so dominated his cabinet and military staff that no one was prepared to oppose what Mr. Churchill wanted to do. It was also true that Churchill was more knowledgeable than his peers in any government involved in the war. One thing that created Churchills dominance was his prestige. 

The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, was surprised at how Churchill had established his "dominance over his cabinet". There was no one in early 1941 who was able to tell Churchill when he was wrong. When Alan Brooke arrived on the scene, he made it his responsibility to attempt to keep Churchill from doing things which would cause trouble. 

The "Dominion Governments" might decided to block the Greek campaign, but the way that Churchill operated in early 1941, he withheld information from the Dominion governments that would have made it possible for the governments to be part of the "strategic decision-making process". General Blamey was told that Mr. Menzies had agreed to the Greek campaign while Mr. Menzies was told that General Blamey had agreed. This seems like a general lack of respect for the Dominions.

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

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Monday, June 13, 2022

More thoughts on the conduct of the Greek campaign

 The British forces in Greece had little confidence in the capability of the Greek army. The reality was somewhat different. General Wilson and his staff tended to Blame the Greek army when the failure was due ro General Wilson and his staff. General Wilson ordered a withdrawal from the Aliakmon Line while saying that the Greek army had "disintegrated" when the truth was that the real problem was to thr right of the ANZAC Corps. The corps seems to have been too weak to hold their position in the face of the forcs that the Germans had ready. 

By the time that the ANZAC Corps occupied the Thermopylae line, the Greek army in Epirus had "surrendered to the Germans. That German force made no move against the Thermopylae position. Again, the truth was that the weakened ANZAC Corps was not strong enough to hold against General List's army. 

As for the withdrawal, General Wilson and his staff had waited too long to bein planning. It was also true that General Wilson had sent to commanders and their staffs to leave Greece when they should have been used to plan the withdrawal. General Wilson and his staff lacked the judgement and experience needed to command the Greek campaign. Wilson's main qualification to command in Greece was that Churchill knew him. 

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

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

German planning in early to mid-1941

 By 6 April 1941, the Germans had a plan for occupying Yugoslavia, That allowed the Germans to fix the invasion of Russia as 22 June 1941. They now had 17 armored divisions and 106 non-armored divisions for the Russian operation. The countries subservient to Germany also had deployed their units for the Russian operation. 

The Greek General Papagos believed that the British should focus on taking Libya rather than defending Greece. The British General O'Connor had thought he could have captured Tripoli if he had not been stopped and the units sent to Greece. 

By the time that the Greek government had accepted British aid in defending Greece, the British army in North Africa was withdrawing from Rommel's advance to the East. 

The Australian General wrote that ignoring military considerations because of political factors was asking for trouble, as the outcome in Greece showed. The outcome in Greece was pre-determined due to wishful thinking  and ignoring real military considerations. As we have seen, the motivation for the Greek operation was strictly political. 

General Dill, the CIGS, General Wavell, and Admiral Cunningham all realized that the chances of success on Greece were small. They went ahead with the operation because they knew that they were expected to make the effort.

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

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Greece and the German attack on Russia

 We have already expressed the opinion that the formation of a Balkan Front was simply a fantasy held by Winston Churchill. The two potential participants were Yugoslavia and Turkey. There was at least one faction in Yugoslavia that was ready to join Germany. Turkey simply was skeptical that the British could field an effective force to fight the Germans. As for Greece, they were already fully engaged with a stronger Italian army in a war in Albania. The Greek government was also of the opinion that the British lacked the means to be able to fight against a German attack with any chance of success. British professional military opinion opposed going into Greece, but Churchill ignored their advice because he was determined to do what he wanted regardless of expert opinion. The eventual results showed that this was a valid concern. The British were thought to be able to provide four infantry divisions and one armored brigade. Their armor consisted of rather delicate cruiser tanks with fragile metal tracks and machine-gun-armed light tanks. The British also were equipped with a substantial number of infantry armored vehicles that they called "carriers".

One wildcard was the German plans to invade Russia after they took Greece and Yugoslavia. While the Germans moved into position to attack Greece and Yugoslavia, no date had been set for the attack on Russia. 

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Comments on the British effort in Greece

 The idea that a Balkan Front could be established was simply a fantasy that had no real prospect of success. It was the sort of unrealistic thinking by Churchill that when Alan Brooke became the CIGS, he worked to squash, because that was a prime example of how Churchill would cause trouble. The British "moral obligation" to help Greece to fight the Germans was a real factor. During the British retreat in Greece, we saw that the Greek populace really appreciated the  British aid. 

The  British government had  a real concern about the American reaction if they ignored the plight of Greece in the face of a German attack. General Metaxas had opposed the British entry into Greece because he thought iy would weaken the British, which it did. General Metaxas died suddenly, and the new government welcomed British help. The Geek government wanted the British to wait to enter Greece until the Germans had moved into Bulgaria. The problem with that condition was that the British had little time to transport a force that was large enough to effectively oppose the Germans. 

The new Greek government understood the political importance for the British to help defend Greece against a German attack. The Allied side needed to see British soldiers fighting alongside Greek soldiers. Greek republicans accused Greek monarchists of being pro-German. When the British took a position at Thermopylae, "where Leonidas and his 300 Spartans fell", the British fought without any Greek help.

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

Monday, May 30, 2022

Escaped Prisoners

 A number of British soldiers escaped from the Germans. An Australian, Warrant Officer Boulter, was one of those escaped prisoners. Warrant Officer Boulter had been captured at Kalamata on 29 April. He was sent by train to a POW camp near Corinth. This was a camp that was said to house some ten thousand British prisoners, of which about 350 were officers. Oddly enough, the Germans had take four to five thousand Italians as prisoners and put them in the camp. Apparently due to poor sanitation, there was a dysentery problem. 

Since the prisoners were at Corinth, they were able to watch aircraft take off for Crete and return with battle damage. On 5 June, the prisoners were starting to be moved to Germany. So many railroad bridges had been destroyed, the prisoners were marched to Lamia. This provided Warrant Officer Boulter with a chance to escape. He hid in scrub next to the road until it was dark. A Greek gave him clothes. He "worked in the fields in exchange for "food and shelter".  After a few days, they sent him to "a remote mountain village" with other fugitives, "two more Australians, a British pilot, and a Pole". They started walking, went across the rails and "the main road". The crossed the mountains and arrived at the coast on 22 June. 

A greek fisherman took them by boat to Euboea. They were with Greeks and could hear the BBC, where they learned that Germany had invaded Russia. Most of the fugitives decided to stay where they were, with Greeks. Boulter had started to learn "qite a little Greek". He had arrived at a monastery. He was treated well and the bishop found a fisherman to take Boulter to Skyros. He met a Greek who had been paid to ferry fugitives to Smyrna. 

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

From 10 May 1941 after Greece

 Some soldiers had traveled to the island of Lamia. A small group of 16 men, including Sergeant Peirce. They had learned of Lt-Col. Cullen's escape as part of a large Group. The group with Sergeant Peirce had traveled to Skyros, taken there by a Greek sea-captain. Greek civilians, such as fishermen and peasants, treated the soldiers very well. The Greek people really appreciated the British help in fighting the Germans.

A Greek soldier had "told them that a boatload of Germans had landed". Fortunately, they were actually Colonel Chilton and his companions. He was now part of a 16 man group. The "combined group" arrived at Turkey near Smyrna. At Smyrna, they met two old Turkish colonels who "had been wounded by Australians in the first war and were quite proud of it". The Turks spoke admiringly of tje Australians of the First War. 

Eighteen men, including Sergeant Tanner, were already at Smyrna, under Colonel Hughes supervision. The men were told to wear civilian clothes and to tell anyone who asked that they were "English civilian engineers". A train took the men to Alexandretta. A Norwegian tanker then carried the men to Port Said where they "arrived on 24 May. This story gives a much more positive view of Turks tan you would get from the current news.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The aftermath in Greece from late April 1941

 The end of loading soldiers onto ships in Greece was followed by Germans taking prisoners. The prisoners were mostly taken at Kalamata and Navplion. Evenaftyer that, there were still many British soldiers remaining in Greece. At least hundreads of British soldiers managed to escape. A large Australian group from the 2/2nd Battalion had been "trapped" in the Pinios Gorge. It qas on the night of 18-19 April that they had been pushed "into the hills above Tempe". They ended up scattering into small groups. Lt=Col. Cullen gave men 200,000 drachmae. Most villagers gave food without taking any payment. 

Most of this group headed south. By 25 April, m

ost were transported by Greeks to Skiathos. They were eventually taken to Chios in luggers. A Greek "shipowner" loaned the two senior officers another 150,000 drachmae. Some men sailed in a ship that carried 400 Greek soldiers. In a couple of days, they met a ship that had some 280 men/ They all arrived at Heraklion on Crete on 5 May.

A group of 133 men had come to Chios. The men eventually reached Chesme in Turkey. An Australian, Col. Hughes was an old Turkey hand and handled negotiations for the escaping prisoners through a neutral country. 

Col. Chilton and several men headed southwest. They found some British vehicles that were "bogged down". The found some bully beef tins that they took. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Summary of the Greek campaign in 1941

 The German forces in Greece in 1941 were from the Twelfth Army. There were official figures for losses announced at the end of the operation:

"1,160 killed,

3,755 wounded,

and 345 missing."

The British forces in Greece included the following:

"British army 21,880

Palestinians and Cypriots 4,670

RAF 2,217

Australian 17,125

New Zealand 16,720"


"British 146 killed, 87 wounded, 6,489 prisoners"

"RAF 110 killed, 45 wounded, 28 prisoners"

"Australian 320 killed, 494 wounded, 2,030 prisoners"

"New Zealand 291 killed, 599 wounded, 1,614 prisoners"

"Palestinian and Cypriot 36 killed, 25 wounded, 3,806 prisoners"

When the "ANZAC Corps pulled back from Thermopylae and Brallos, the Germans were slow to advance towards Athens. The first Germans to reach Athens had come from Corinth. This was "on the morning of April 27". The "Adolph Hitler" Division had been at Yannina. They only advanced by 26 April. They were in a position where they could "outflank" the Anzac Corps. By 27 April, the "Adolph Hitler" Division had reached Patras and sat there while the British withdrawal was accomplished.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

At Kalamata on April 28-29 1941

 The soldiers at Kalamata were divided into four groups, hoping to be loaded onto ships on the night of 28 to 29 April 1941. There was a plan to guide the loading of men. The first group were the wounded and stretcher bearers. The second group was called Pemberton Force. They were about 1,400 men, mostly base troops. The third group was Harlock Force, including both Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Then there was Lister Force, a mixed group of men. They had 2,400 British depot soldiers. There were some "100 Indian mule drivers". The rest were laborers. About 2,000 were Palestinian and Cypriot. The last 2,000 were also laborers in this case, Yugoslav and Lascar. 

The 4th Hussars were patrolling towards the north. They had seen no Germans so far. But there was a surprise, because two ours later, Germans had run over the Hussars and went "through the town" and drove tot he quay. The captured the beach master. The "British" started fighting. Officers gathered soldiers and led them "to the quay". A New Zealand battalion "fixed bayonets and charged towards the quay. The fighters had very few weapons left. The quay had been recaptured by 9:30pm. The captured two German field guns and took about 100 Germans prisoner. During the fighting, two cruisers and six destroyers were headed for Kalamata. The Germans had disrupted withdrawal plans for Kalamata. Destroyers had succeeded in loading some 399 soldiers.

Admiral Pridham-Whippel sent destroyers to see if they could pick up soldiers from the coast south of Kalamata. They succeeded in picking up somewhat more than 900 soldiers. 

After this, one Australian hospital unit remained in Greece. They gradually were controlled by the Germans. They eventually took in wounded from Crete, after that battle had started.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Last minute developments in Greece from 28 April 1941

 By 28 April 1941, the Germans were said to be advancing into the Peloponnese. German paratroopers were thought to be jumping in an area near Navplion. The senior officer at Navplion suggested that everyone should "head for the hills", 

At the beach at Tolos, the rear-guard was an "Australian Composite Battalion". They were soldiers from the area around Athens. They had reached Argos early on 26 April. They were ordered to travel to Kalamata and to be ready to fight as a rear-guard. When they had passed through the Tripolis Pass, German bombers and fighters attacked the group. They took action to make the road unusable and half of the battalion move into a defensive position "near Tripolis". Brigadier ordered them to protect the loading soldiers from Navplion and Tolos. These were referred to as the "Argos beaches". About 130 men from the battalion moved into a position to protect the beach at Tolos. The decision had been made to not use Navplion to load soldiers onto ships. By early on 28 April, the soldiers at Navplion were told that if they wanted, they could try to "break away". Miller and Jackson chose fight to keep the Germans from moving into the beach that night. The two groups set up on either side of the road into Navplion. By the afternoon, they fought a German group riding in trucks and captured British carriers. The battle lasted some three hours, the Australians were forced to surrender. Most soldiers had surrendered to the Germans, but many small groups escaped from Tolos. Some used boats they found while others found Caiques that were functional.

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

Monday, May 09, 2022

British soldiers at the "Argos beaches" 29-29 April 1941

 By 28 April 1941, there was only fairly strong "group" left in Greece. This was a New Zealand brigade that was still at Monemvasia. They had no artillery with them, but they were still a good fighting force. The plan at this point was to send a cruiser and four destroyers on the night of 28 April. 

They also thought that there were some 7,000 soldiers at Kalamata, although there were actually more than 7,000 at Kalamata. Two cruisers and six destroyers were to be sent to Kalamata. They would also send three sloops to Kithera load about 800 soldiers. The operation at Kithera was successful. Landing craft took the soldiers from the beach to the sloops. They carried the soldiers to Suda Bay, a place that is familiar to me (Spring 1977). 

One sloop, the Hyacinth, towed the landing craft. Loading soldiers went well at Monemvasia. The first ships, the Isis and Griffin arrived at 10:30pm on 8 April. At about 1am on 29 April, aa cruiser, the Ajax, and the destroyers Hotspur and Havock appeared, The soldiers were carried to the ships on barges and fishing vessels. All the men, including General Freyberg and Rear-Admiral Baille-Grohman were loaded and were underway. 

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

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

more embarkations on 27-28 April 1941

 During the night of 27-28 April there about 2,000 men, with groups of stragglers still arriving. Thesewere the "Argos beaches", namely Navplion and Tolos. There were German aircraft firing machine guns and dropping bombs. An attemt was made to provide a "rearguard". Men were collected from the "Australian REinforcement Battaliom" along with some 200 men of the 3rd RTR (Robert Crisp's unit). They expected to see destroyers, although there were none seen. By 3am, the men were sent back into hiding. 

There was a fund with Greek money. They hoped to hire small Greek boats, but none were available for hire, with the Germans expected to appear soon.

Of some 8,000 men still at Kalamata, there were largely unorganized "base troops" without weapons. There  some 800 New Zealand soldiers and 380 Australian soldiers. During the day, some 300 men from the 4th Hussars arrived. While men were preparing to move to the beach, they were bombed by about 25 German aircraft. After that, the got organized and waited for ships. No ships arrived, so the men went back into hiding. The men of the 4th Hussars were to defend Kalamata. The New Zealand battalion was to provide cover for an embarkation, if it happened. 

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

Monday, May 02, 2022

More embarkation on 27-28 April 1941

 No men were loaded onto ships in the Peloponnese on the night of 27-28 April. The transports used the night before were now at Alexandria. Their escorts had been four of the cruisers and 12 of the destroyers. 

The Bew Zealand 6th Brigade was at Miloi and Tripolis. They saw German aircraft but no ground troops. General Freyberg ordered the brigade commander to sit where they were until darkness fell and then move to Monemvasia as quickly as they could. My the middle of the day, the brigade started to "thin out". One battalion travelled south, seemingly under constant air attack. The rest of the 6th Brigade travelled at night. Freyberg moved his headquarters with the brigade. By 28 April daylight, they had moved some 120 miles. After that, the brigade was incorporated into the "defensive line" located at Monemvasia. 

Lee's force was already included in the defenses at Monemvasia. There was a Greek destroyer run aground in the harbour. New Zealand engineers took some depth charges from the destroyer and planted them in the road. 

The Group W headquarters "Rear Party" was setup close by. The went looking for Caiques that could be used to evacuate soldiers. They asked the people who lived in the area to move to villages "in the hills". That would create the illusion that the "town would look deserted". 

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Events from 27 April 1941 in Greece

 On 27 April, there were still some 800 men of the armored brigade located at Rafina, which was about ten miles north of the action we have been following. They had no artillery left, since all the guns were destroyed. During the day on 27 April, the men of the armored had gotten into defensive positions close to the beach whch kept them hidden. The group included about 250 Rangers at the left end. There were also some anti-tank gunners in the middle, along with the New Zealand cavalry. Early on 27 April, they observed German aircraft bombing the vehicles that had been wrecked. These were "in the hills at Rafina". The German aircraft also bombed the village. They flew over the hidden men, but did not see them. Some men from the anti-tank regiment took charge of a Greek caique that lay in the harbor. Their lieutenant spoke "classical Greek". They expected that the caique could carry about 250 men. The other 600 men would head for Porto Rafti. There was a planned embarkatiom planned for Porto Rafti "that night". 

There were Germans blocking the route to Porto Rafti to Rafina. The men headed for Rafina instead. The caique's engine had been sabotaged, but they could see a destroyer approaching Rafina, which proved to be the Havock. The destroyer's captain hard that there men at Rafina, so he headed there. They were able to load all 800 men onto the destroyer. They sailed from Rafina to Crete. 

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

Monday, April 25, 2022

Near Markopoulon from 27 April 1941

 After the air attack on 27 April 1941, the New Zealand 18th and 20th Battalions were positioned forward while the 19th Battaluon was held in reserve. They were supported by the Australian 2/3rd Field Regiment. Some their guns were pulled forward, to act in      the anti-tank role.

The Greeks living in Markopoulon came out to watch the soldiers move up to their positions. The Greeks knew how the battles had gone, many Greeks showed support to the New Zealand soldiers. Greeks threw roses to the soldiers and left roses in the road. "women and girls" took water in cups to the soldiers. Old men flashed "thumbs-up" to the soldiers from the road-side. There was a smoke cloud from burning trees and crops.

At 3pm, a line of vehicles, mostly German light tanks, drove into Markopoulon. The Australan artillery did not fire on the village, butas the vehicles drove out, "guns and mortars" opened fire. German tanks sheltered in the village, knowing that they were safe there. Many of the German "vehicles" drove to "the little port of Loutsa". There was never an attack while the soldiers prepared to be loaded onto ships. By 6pm, the soldiers began destroying trucks. At 8:45pm, they destroyed guns. The 19th battalion made a perimeter "about a thousand yards from the beach. By 9pm, thr forward soldiers moved into the perimeter. Men were loaded onto ships from Porto Rafti. The ships were the cruiser Ajax and "the destroyers Kimberley and Kingston". 

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

Thursday, April 21, 2022

From 26-27 April 1941

 During the night of 26-27 April 1941, some 19,000 soldiers were loaded onto ships. Of the purpose-built transports, two were sunk. Of these, the Slamat was lost with almost everyone aboard. The other, the Costa Rica was sunk, with no losses of men. No cruisers were lost and two destroyers were sunk. 

There were still many British and commonwealth soldiers left in Greece. There was still the 4th New Zealand Brigade Group. This near the beaches at Athens. Part of the 1st Armoured Brigade was also near the beaches near Athens. Another 2,500 soldiers were located "at the Argos beaches". The 6th New Zealand Brigade Group "was at Tripolis". There were also some units or groups located at Monemvasia. there were also a large group, more than eight thousand,  located at Kalamata. 

It was thought to be wise to move the 4th New Zealand Brigade into a suitable "defensive position" some five hundred yards on the east side of Markopoulon. This was on the road that ran from Athens to Porto Rafti. They were overflown by 23 German aircraft around 11am. The aircraft noticed the brigade and "machine-gunned the soldiers". Ammunition from the 2/3rd Field Regiment exploded, and caused other, secondary explosions. There was widespread chaos, with ammunition exploding, burning vehicles, along with burning crops and trees.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

more details from 26 April 1941 at Kalamata

 By 10pm on 26 April, the men could see lights from approaching ships. The men started forward "in threes". They could see approaching destroyers. Two destroyers tied up with gangways "at bow and stern". The men walked aboard. When a destroyer was filled, the men waited for the next ship. There was only one incident where Cypriots and Palestinians tried to push forwardonto the destroyer Hero. Some soldiers from the 2/2nd Battalion pushed them back with "rifle butts".

Brigadier Savige praised the men were well-behaved and they showed "complete confidence in their officers and N.C.O.'s. Naval OOfficers who had been at Dunkirk were surprised that men were "carrying their weapons and Equipment, and spare boxes of S.A.A." One of Savige's battalions had gotten pushed back, so they were "led forward and embarked". 

They eventually found that some of Allen's "force" were still on the shore. They had managed to remove more than 8,000 men, "the most embarked from a single beach on one night". 

By 27 April, the navy was hard-pressed. Suda Bay, at this point was "packed with ships carrying soldiers. All the regular transports were filled with soldiers. They would probably haveto load soldiers onto cruisers and destroyers. All transports were sent to Alexandria with escorts. 

When there was an air raid, soldiers came on deck with weapons to fire at the aircraft. Some seven attacking aircraft were destroyed. The transport Costa Rica was damaged. Destroyerscame alongside to remove men. The Costa Rica was Dutch and the officers from the Costa Rica with twenty soldiers jumped onto the destroyer Hero. 

At this point, there were still men on beaches near Athens, at the Argos beaches, at Tripolis, at Monemvasia, "more than eight thosand men at Kalamata". This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria", by Gavin Long. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Loading troops at Kalamata

 At Kalamata, about one-third of Allen Group was assembled. Some "18,000 to 20,000" soldiers were present from the Australian 16th and 17th Brigades along with "corps troops"). There were more units heading to Kalamata, including the remnants of the 4th Hussars and the "New Zealand reinforcement battalion". 

Brigadier Parrington was put in charge of Kalamata. Brigadier Allen recommended to Brigadier Parrington that they should load combat troops first. Later that day, Brigadier Parrington ordered taht the men should be put into four groups. The first group would have Allens two brigades. The second group would have all men to the northeast from Kalamata. Everyone who arrived at Kalamata were n the third group. Everyone else were in the fourth group. Each group was subdivided into small groups of fifty. Each small group was assigned a number. The men were told to move "to the beach or quay" and report to a "control post". The control posts assigned small groups to ships. 

The leaders of the Australians desired that their men should leave Greece "as a disciplined force". One of the challenges was that the men were largely without officers. Allen ordered that steps be taken to keep men other than Australians and British soldiers under Allen's command off the ships. They would not let any "stragglers" on the ships.

By evening, there were men engaged in burying or damaging their kits. Allen and Parrington decided that they would destroy vehicles by draining oil and water and then running them until "they seized up". Allen was instructed to not destroy his vehicles until Parrington gave the order. They were concerned that they might need need to transport AQllen's forcr to another location. 

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Loading troops from Greece on 26-27 April 1941

 The Stuart was a British-built flotilla leader serving in thr Australian navy. The Stuart had sailed to Tolos to load soldiers from the beach. Loading started at 11:15pm. The men walked in the water out to a landing craft. There was a sand bar some thirty yards from the beach. The "naval beachmaster" had recommended the army "area commander" not to use Tolos, but it was too late to change. 

The Stuart filled up and transported the soldiers to the cruiser Orion. They sailed back to Tolos with the Australian cruiser Perth. By 4am about two thousand men had been taken from the beach. That left about 1,300 soldiers on the beach at Tolos.  They had loaded four Australian "embarkation staff", which meant that there just four officers left. 

The operation at Navplion had gone badly. The transport Ulster Prince had been bombed and burnt. That blocked the harbour at Navplion. At 4:30am, the ships had left Navplion carrying 2,600 men. That meant that there 1,700 men still on the beach. One of the ships that left Navplios was bombed and sunk with few survivors rescued.

Two destroyers had rescued survivors, but they ere sunk eventually. Some from Navplion were loaded on a laning craft and were transported "down the coast". Some 700 men went to Tolos and went into hiding. The German aircraft did not see the hidden men.

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

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Troops loaded onto ships at three locations on 26-27 April in Greece

 There were ambitios plans to load troops onto ships at three locations in Greece: beaches at Athens, beaches at Argos, and at Kalamata. Porto Rafti counts as "Athens beaches". Brigadier Miles commanded a large group composed of artillery. The remnants of the 1st Armoured Brigade were at Rafina. Porto Rafti was not well-organized. They had just one landing crat to move many men. There wasa group of men at KeaIsland that hd to be moved before anyone else. 

It was obvious to Brigadier Miles that they had a big problem. He aent two units to Rafina. Brgadier Miles ordered that all the equipment be loaded onto ships, but this was not possible, 

The loadng at both Rafinaand Porto Rafti were well-executed. They loaded the Glengyle and Salween and put about 2,720 onto the little cruiser Carlisle nd two destroyer, the Kington and Kandahar. There was a problem, though, because the men of important units were lwft on the beach. 

At 1:30am, they found that the 4th New Zealand Brigade would need to travel to the beaches at Marathon "on the next night". While men were traveling in the direction of Athens, Germans entered Athens at 9:25am. 

There had been plans to send the Glenearn to Navplion to load troops on the night of 26-27 April. Instead, the Glenearn had been bombed and disabled. "Vice-Admiral Pridham-Wippell" sailed to Navplion with his ship, the cruiser Orion and with the Australian cruiser Perth. HMAS Stuart sailed to Tolos. Again, there was a problem with the landing craft. This is based on the accoumt in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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