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.

Amazon Ad