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.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

A nearly final battle in Greece on 26 April 1941

 It was from 11am on 26 April that the 100 vehicle German column was seen traveling from Thebes. When Australian artillery had the entire column in range, well-aimed artillery fire caused the column to scatter. The German infantry quickly dispersed before the climbed onto their vehicles and drove back to Thebes. Something like eight vehicles were knocked out and left on the road. 

Somewhat later, they were attacked by German aicraft, an attack that the veterans expected to see. That was followed by German artillery firing after about 1pm. The afternoon was spent with German and Australian artillery trading shots. They ocasionally noticed German tanks darting forward.

Later in the afternoon, artillery hit a tank. About the same time, German infantry moving forward drew machine gun fire, which caused the infantry to disperse. The range was some 3,000 yards. Through the afternoon, they could see German vehicles driviv to the east on the road to Skhimatarion. It was at abot 2pm that the got word of German paratroopers at Corinth. The men got orders to travel to Porto Rafti to board ships at 7pm. By 9pm, the men boarded vehicles and started to drive down the road at some 30mph. Enineers left cratrs behind them as they traveled. It was Puttick led his men along the road through Eleusis and Athens while moving towards Porto Rafti. Thisis based in the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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