Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Action from 24 April 1941

 5:40pm saw a gun fight where German were hit at a 30 yard range "at the edge of the scrub". After this, the companies that were furthest out were pulled back. Brigadier Sandover ordered his "reserve company" to a hill to the south, where machine gunners and the reserve company could cover the ground from which they had withdrawn. 

The 2/1st Battalion had made the planned move to the main road. They were positioned so that they could look at the "mountain road" that they had travelled. 

By 6pm, there were some German infantry on the west side of Gravia. While there was still some light, there was a gun fight between the Germans and a company of the 2/1st Battalion. 

There was now a change of plans. At about 6pm, General Vasey was concerned about the 2/11th Battalion's situation. He ordered 2/1st and 2/4th Battalions, with a groupof extra soldiers, to load onto trucks at 8pm, instead of a half-hour later. He also told Brigadier Sandover that he needed to hold his ground until 9pm, instead of a half-hour later. 

Once the 2/1st Battalion had mostly pulled out, German infantry was shooting at the right end of the 2/11th  Battalion and at a part of the 2/8th Battalion. They were on the higher ground to the right. 

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Fighting on 24 April 1941

 As we recall, the Australian 2/4th was sitting, blocking the road at about five miles beyond Brallos. Vasey then ordered the 2/1st Battalion to ove along the main road until they reached the 2/4th Battalion position, which they reached by about 6pm. 

The guns of the 2/2nd Regiment had come under air attack on 23 April. The regiment commander ordered that during the night, the guns should move back some 1,000 to 1,500 yards. He had them leave the camoflage nets over the old gun positions. That was in the area held by the 2/11th Battalion. The infantry stayed away from the old gun positions. 

That morning, the Germans made a dive-boming attack on the old gun positions. A captain and four men were there, acting as artillery observers. 

On the 24th, early in the day, they could see trucks driving over the bridge across the Sperkhios, which had been repaired. There were also tanks on the main road driving south. At one point, the tanks turned to the east, so as to attack the New Zealand positions.

Australian machine gunners opened fire on German infantry who were oving forward. They were on the "near side of thr rails". They would occasionally fire, during the day. Suddenly, at about 4:50pm, the Germans opened fire with motars on the Australian infantry. This preceded a bigger attack. 

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

Thursday, February 17, 2022

In Athens and back "in the hills"

 With men in Athens in battle-scarred vehicles, General Freyberg was feeling bad that the commaner's efforts had worked so badly. The vehicles driving through Athens showed damage from the last day and then "the drive through the night". Still the Greek people gave the soldiers a rousng greeting, inckuding flowers. 

Back in the hills, the Australian 19th Brigade was hit by a German attack. The 2/11th Battalion was sitting on the main road. The battalion waqs now commanded y Major Sandover. One company was located on the east side of the road and two companies on the westside. A fourth company was "in support". The battalion had only moved into its place at about 5am. They had had a long march from their previous spot in the hills "on the right". 

To their right were an officer and 48 men from the2/8th Battalion. About half of the 2/1st Battalion was protecting "the right rear" of the 2/11th Battalion. There were "tracks" that passed through Kalothronion up to the 2/11th Battalion position.

One company from the 2/1st Battalion had been sent to cover men engaged in demolition at Gravia (where there was a defile). The road which passed through the defile came from Amfissa. There had been a report of German soldiers comng from Epirus. The 2/4th Battalion was sitting across the road at a postion about five miles south from Brallos.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Withdrawal from Molos

 One good thing was that on 24 April, German air attaack had not been a factor. Once it was dark, trucks were driven "boldly" on thr road, driving past the destroyed German tanks. The crews of the guns that were now in front of the infantry were picked up and carried out.

General Freyberg learned on the afternoon of 24 April that the ammunition trucks that he had been counting on to bring out part of the infantry were lost, or at  least were in some unknown location. Freyberg then directed Brigader Miles to use the available artillery vehicles to carry out as many of the infantry as could be carried. The rest of the infantry would have to march.

During the night, the German nfantry forward while the artillery fight continued. At 9:15pm, they learned that the ammunition trucks had been located and were on the road, moving towards Molos. After the trucks arrived, the men thinned out as they boarded the trucks. Theyeventually set about destroying the artillery.  The destroyed the medium guns and then the field guns. The last to be destroyed were the field guns of the 2nd RHA. That was completed at about 11:50pm.

All vehicles had left Molos by midnight. That meant that there was a long column of vehicles driving south. They moved through the rearguard at Cape Knimis and then on to Atlandi. The vehcles all had their lghts on as they moved on the main road. When the arrived at "the main rearguard" at Erithrai, the passed through. 

By the middle of 25 April, they had covered 100 miles. That meant that they were driving through the streets of Athens. Brigadier Miles was already in Athens, because he was arrange with the "Force headquarters" to fix the corners for easy passage and "to guide the column through". This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Fighting tanks

 At least one troop of the 5th Field Regiment sat right in front of the infantry of the 25th Battalion. Knocked out tanks were partially blocking the road. Besides knocked out tanks, smoke was becoming a factor. Some surviving tanks tried to maneuver past the blockage, but they were largely unsuccessful. 

The blocked tanks started to fire on the25th Battalion, which "suffered heavily". "By 5:15, 14 tanks had driven to the right end of the 25th Battalion." Another two tanks followed, but the first was knocked out by the field guns when it had approached "a little bridge" that formed the rightmost edge of the 25th Battalion. There were knocked out tanks for six miles on the road. The field guns apparently destroyed about fiftee tanks during the fight.  One gun and crew had knocked out nine tanks abd set them on fire. Another gun had hit two more tanks. 

Brigadier Miles, the artillery commander, ordered three artillery regiments to fire "on the road by Thermopylae". This measure stopped the Germans from bringing in any mor tanks to the battle scene,.

Later in the day, an attack to the rear of the 25th Battalion was dangerous. To counter this threat, two carrier platoons drove "into the hills". Two companies from other battalions were used to make the 25th Battalion longer.

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

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

The fight began on 24 Aprl 1941 at the Molos Bottleneck

 The fighting at "theBottleneck" started "at about 2pm" on 24 April. Two German tnks that started

across the swamp were knocked out by long-range field gun fire. Since that didn't work, they sent a force down the road.  They sent motor cycle troops first. Next came four tanks. 

The next move was sendind infantry "into the hills south of the road". The 25th Battalion then opened fire 

on the German infantry. Soon, Germans then hit the left end of the 25th Battalion with "heavy fire". 

That was enough to cause the 25th Battalion to have to pull back. 

A larger German attack started by 3pm. A column started down the road with some tanks in front.

After that were infantry in trucks with more tanks following. In response, heavy, aimed artillery frre was called in. After an hour, German tanks were near the 25th Battalion. 

An attack at 4pm was pushed back, but a larger tank attack followed. After that, tanks had reached the25th Battalion positions. The 5th Field Regiment had knocked out some of the tanks.

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

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Trying to work through the results of Wilson's errors

 General Wilson owed his position as British commander in Greece to his relationship with Churchill, not his experience or ability. GGeneral Blamey was no longer in Greece, so General Freyberg had to fill the role of wise and experienced commander. Freyberg's performance during the rest of 1941 exposed his shortcomings. 

General Blamey wasnot a professional soldier, but he performed better than many of the professional soldiers in Greece. If we would criticize Blamey, it would be for his playing Australian army politics to ensure that he was as senior as possible and ssuing orders to his chief rival, John Laverack.

The revised plan was for embarkation on dats 24 and25th (5th Brigade),

25th and 26th (19th Brigade and part of the 1st Armoured Brigade),

26th and 27th (6th Brigade as well as part of the 1st Armoured Brigade).

The plan shows that Athens beaches were to be utilized despite previous statements 

that they would not be used, 

The 4th Brikade would be embarked at Magara,

The Corps and RAF as well as some other units would be embarked from Navplion.

Some base units, Robert Crisp's unit, the 3rd RTR with the 4th Hussars would embark from 

Navplion on 26th and 27th. 

Brigadier Allen and his group would not embark at Magara, but from a distant beach, about  hundred miles away. Allen, at this point, had almost no staff.

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

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

More happening from 24 April 1941

 It was on 24 April 1941 that the Greek army surrendered. A late order to the army had been to tell them to stay off the roads, to help the British to withdraw. The Greek King and some of the government flew to Crete in a flying boat. You wold expect the aircraft to be a Short Sunderland. This was the latest and best British flying boat.

A New Zealand Brigade was sitting at the "Molos bottleneck" Two battalions were forward, the 24th to the right, the 25th to the left, witht he 26th as the reserve. The main road, which ran to the sea, To the west of the 25th Battalion, The main road ran towards the Alamanas bridge. The road came to within three miles of the bridge. 

There was a gap between the 25th Battalion and the Australians was large enough that artillery fire could coer the gap. The Australians were at the Brallos Pass. To the north, there were dried marshes that seemed to be passable to German tanks. They might come that way so as to attack the Molos defensive position. 

To make preparation for such an attack, they positioned field guns to be able to fire towards a tank attack across the marsh area. supporting the foward battalions were "one medium regiment, and four field regiments". One of these was "Royal Horse Artillery and three New Zealand field regiments". In addition, there were "two anti-tank regiments and a light anti-airraft battery".

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

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