Wednesday, January 26, 2022

.The embarkation from Greece

 General Wilson's headquarters took control of the embarkation after ANZAC Corps ceased to exist. On the afternoon of 24 April, Wilson's staff ordered Generals Freyberg and Mackay, along with their staffs, to embark that night. This seems strande, gicen that considerable forces were still in Greece, with only command organization left being Wilson's staff, which we would consder to be less experienced than Freyberg and Mackay's staffs.

Mackay's staff headed for the "Argos area" after receiving Wilson's order. Mackay and his aid flew to Crete in a flying boat. The rest of his staff boarded a cruiser. Freyberg disagreed with the order, at least partly due to the issues we mentioned z'but also because of fighting with German tanks at the Thermopylae Pass".

It seemsa that Wilson quit trying to order Freyberg's movements. It is clear that Freyberg better understood what was needed than Wilson.At this time, there were still thee New Zealand brigades, thrr Australian brigades, one British brigade, and many base units. There were also labor battalions, 

During April 24, yhe plan for embarkation was modified, They wanted to move more men to the south, and to make greater use of destroyers.

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

General Blamey moves to Egypt

 General Blamey ended up at Alexandria, Egypt by the middle of 24 April, 1941. Upon arriving, General Blamey met with Admiral Cunningham. The way that the commanders in the Mediterranean and Middle East did business in April 1941, Admiral Cunningham had not realized that the army was about to evacuate from Greece, and expected to be transported by the navy. It seems that General Blamey was a lot more capable of commanding significant forces with a good understanding of the issues, and with sufficient knowledge to make decisions that could be trusted.

Admiral Cunningham responded by ordering every ship to sea, heading towards Greece. It was true, though that by 24 April, Admiral Cunningham had been told that by 22 April that the operation was now 24 April, and enough ships had been ordered to sea, heading for Greece, to carry the first group that would be carried. 

General Blamey had earned a great deal of respect by late April 1941. Once Blamey was in Egypt, "he was appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the Middle East. The Australians had mentioned that General Blamey should command the force to be withsrwn from Greece, since the Australians predomonated. That suggestion was not acceptedby thr British. Another suggestion was made that Blamey should command "the Western Desert Command, later called the 8th Army. What Wavell wanted was to have Blamey as his deputy. That appointment was accepted.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The withdrawal from Greece starts

 There was action  "on the night of 23-24 April 1941. The 17th Australian Brigade had been on the left end of the Thermopylae line. The combiation of the 16th and 17th Brigades were to travel to Megara. Their instructions were to wait at Megara to be embarked on ships. The comment was made that the movement had gone "remarkably smoothly".

Rather detailed orders were given at the battalion level about how the movements shoul proceed. By "daybreak", ordered the column to stop at Elensis, where it was thought there was an area that had cover to reduce the chances of being seen. For the entire day on 24 April, "Allen Group" stayed in "olive groves" on both sides of the "Athens road". "It was thought that traveling with lights dimmed was smart. Dimmed lights had been General Mackay's idea. 

Traffic on the road was very heavy, but the use of traffic control allowed the vehicles to arrive at the desired time. The orders giving instructions about the embarkation were the last orders issued by the ANZAC Corps. The ANZAC Corps headquarters shut down at 8pm on April 23 where it had been at Levadia. The headquarters immediately reopened at Mandra. The headquarters was disestablished at midnight of 23-24 April.  Athens beaches, The plan would need to be updated. 

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

More events in Greece from 22 April 1941

 The Germans attacked all the airfields used by rhe British in the Athens area. The British air commander, Air Vice-Marshal D'Albiac sent all the surviving Hurricanes to Argos. The Germans were determined to keep pressure on the British, so they hit Argos on 23 April. They succeeded in destroying 13 aircraft. The survivors were ordered to fly to Crete. 

The Greek King announced that he would move his government to Crete. The British base in Athens settled their accounts, and gave the supply depot to the Greeks. They gave the "canteen stores" to the American Red Cross. 

They had "mostly Palestinians, Arabs, and Cypriots" in the Pioneer Corps. They were moved out by train. They also had "middle-aged British offcers." Some New Zealand Nurses and semi-mobile wounded had been "sent to Argos". "More wounded were sent to Megara".

Some officers sent by General Blamey to General Wilson's headquarters arrved at "3am on 23 April". The idea was that these men were available for duties relating to embarkation of troops to be withdrawn from Greece.

Finding anyone from Wilson's headquarters proved to be difficult. They finally located Major Packard. He "seemed to be involved with communicatng with the Navy". They learned from Major Packard that the plan for Australians was that they would provide men to be used in beach parties",

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

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Wilson's concerns during 22 and 23 April 1941

 General Wilson's staff was looking at risks that might impact the withdrawal from Greece. They seem to have been concerned about a German movement, usihg the Delphi Pass. They worried that the Germans might block thr path for the retreat from Greece. The Greek headquarters issued orders to a protective force. They were sent to Navpaktos. An officer training unit was sent to Patras with "some field guns". The remnants of the 4th Hussars was also ordered to Patras. Air reconnaissance noticed vehicle movement from Yannina. Late-breaking news reported "hundreds of vehicles moving south". 

General Blamey decided that the needed to "demolish the road at Delhi" and put troops in place to "defend the demolitions." He also had Brigadier Steele "to damage the road". Lt-Col. King's column travelled all night with their vehicle lights turned on, apparentlt to draw attention to themselves. At dawn, they were located "three miles west of Levadis". They were protecting the denmolition work.

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

22 and 23 April at Thermopylae

 The weather on 23 April was fair, Since the weather was good, that mean t that there was both British and German air activity, particularly, reconnaissance aircraft. In the evening, some Germans were seen moving towards the Sperkhios Bridge. Men from the 22nd and 23rd battalions stopped the movement, The infantry involved moved to Molos. The carriers ended up with a rearguard group,

One ongoing effort involved thinning out was being implemented. During 23 April, yhe 19th Brigade traveled to Brallos. A rearguard was "formed" at a pass that overlooked Lamia. Colonel Campbell checked out a "mountain road" that thy might use very soon. 

They were thinking about withdrawal, the 5th Brigade moved to an area near the beach at Marathon, where they might be embarked. By 23 April, the 19th Brigade was in position at Brallos. They expected that they might use the mountain road for withdrawal.

They planned to "damage the road" to try and impair German movement. There was concern that the Germans might "cut across the line of retreat". That possibility created "nervousness" in General Wilson's staff.

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. We expect to include content from a New Zealand reference, as well.

Monday, January 10, 2022

The campaign to sink the Bismarck

 The movie "Sink the Bismarck" is based on a novel "The last nine days of the Bismarck" by C.S.Forester. I thought that the movie made a good story. The battle for the island of Crete started about the same time as the Bismarck operation. The story is about the events in a command center beneath the city of London, blow street level. A very senior British navy captain commanded the command center. His assistant was played by Dana Wynter. She is in the navy and wears the woman's uniform with jacket and skirt.

The captain's son was a Swordfish pilot.

Rear Admiral Wake-Walker's two cruisers, Norfolk and Suffolk found the two German ships and followed them. Admiral Holland's ships, the Hood and Prince of Wales, found the Bismarck and Prins Eugen. Admral Tovey, in the King George V, headed for the area.

Hood and Prince of Wales opened fire, but assumed that thr lead ship was the Bismarck, but it wasactally the heavy cruiser Prns Eugen. That was eventually corrected. It was the Prince of Wales that got the first hits in the Bismarck. At about 6am, the Bismarck got the fatal hit on the Hood that caused the explosion that sank the Hood. The Prince of Wales changed course to miss the Hood's wreckage. The Prince of Wales took hits that disabled the armament for a time.

The captain's son was shot down by the Bismarck's anti-aircraft guns while he attempted a torpedo attack. The captain and his assistant saw a report about the son's plane being shot down.

A crew member of a Catalina flying boat saw the son in the water and rescued him.

before that, the Battleships Rodney and King George V made contact with the Bismarck. The Rodney armed wth nine high-velocity guns firing light shot. By 1941, that was considered to be a bad design. Still, the Rodney managed to reduce the Bismarck to a sinking wreck.

A British cruiser torpedoed and sank the wreck that was the Bismarck.

Before they left the command center, the Captain and his assistant saw the report that the Captain's son had been rescued. When the captain and his assistant climbed to street level, they had no idea of the time of day. They found it was morning and found a place to have breakfast. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

The situation on 23 April and beyond

 It seems that weather on 23 April was good. During the day, there was a report saying that the Germans had landed on the island Euboea. British reconnaissance aircraft did not see any sign of Germans on the island. 

The initial report was enough to cause Wilson's staff to worry about the crossing at Khalkis.They ordered General Freyberg to do somethng to reinforce the 1/Rangers at Khalkis. Brigadier Charrngton was ordered to hold the crossing at Khalkis until 9pm on 25 April. They expected by that tme, the 6th New Zealand Brigade would have moved south of the crossing. They were told that the 6th Brigade would have a rearguard in position. The planned to be there long enough to allow the Rangers to have passed that point. 

The Rangers pulled back their company by the crossing. They then blew charges on the bridge. 

On 23 Aprl, British medium guns were attacked from the air by dive bombers. They also fired back at German guns near Lamia. During the evening of 23 April, New Zealand infantry stopped a German attempt to reach the Sperkhios Bridge. 

Thia ia ased on the account in Gavin Long's volume, "Greece, Crete, and Syria".

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

The 6th New Zealand Brigade situation on 22 and 23 Aprl 1941

 Carriers from were to patrol the "flats" on the north side of the road at night. Durng the night of 22 April, the 5th Brigade was ordered to move to Ayia Konstantinos. The 4th Brigade was also to relocate. In their case, they were to travel to Erithrai, "the covering position". 

The 6th Australan Divsion also had tasks. The 2/2 Field Regiment "rear guns" were to continue firing at the Sperkhios bridge. During the day on 22 April, Germans had occupied "high ground" on the west side of the road. "The Germans were in position that had them looking down on New Zealand inantry. 

Vasey did not le how his posts were separated. He had his men pull back about two miles. That left them North of Brallos. There was a problem with vehicles. As a result, the 2/11th Battalon had to climb back up to where they had been, not long before. On 21 and 22 April, the men moved into postons in thr Thermopylae line. The men had to stand up to an air attack. A sapper, known to be a good shot, held a Bren gun, and shot down a German reconnaissance plane. 

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

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